Air Milers Say They Are Getting Hosed


tay
#1
In the race to redeem their Air Miles before they expire, many collectors are expressing frustrations about limited rewards options.

"You're pretty much hosed," claims Toronto collector John MacKenzie.

At the close of 2011, Air Miles introduced a five-year expiry date on rewards miles. That means on Jan.1, 2017, any unused miles collected before 2012 will disappear and become worthless. The rewards program launched in Canada in 1992.

For 95 miles, customers can get a $10 gift card in the cash category. Many offerings in the dream section such as household products, leisure activities and vacation deals require thousands of miles.

The dream section does offer a $100 gift card for select grocers, but it requires 50 miles plus a cash payment of $95 — almost the value of the card.

Engen, who lives in Lethbridge, Alta., has 400 dream miles he must use by January. He says he hasn't found a way to redeem them.

"I'm having a hard time finding something worthwhile."

MacKenzie has 1,400 dream miles and says there's not much he can do with them. Because he can't access cash rewards, he tried to donate his points to charity. But he soon discovered that the option is only available in the cash category.

So MacKenzie has concluded his miles are worthless. "I'm just going to throw the card away. It's pointless."

Air Miles points to sweepstakes (external - login to view) people can enter to win a vacation or a meet-and-greet with a celebrity for as little as 50 miles. The company also noted that collectors can get a dining discount book (external - login to view) for 500 miles.

Engen and MacKenzie say those options don't interest them. "Absolutely would not consider entering a sweepstakes," says Engen.

"Might as well just flush them down the toilet."

After hearing complaints from other collectors about limited options, Engen posted online an open letter (external - login to view) to Air Miles.

He calls on the company to allow collectors to make a one-time transfer of their dream miles to the cash category before the end of the year.

"That would be a show of good faith for the company and their members," says Engen. "Because they're going to lose a lot of [members]."

Collector MacKenzie suggests another option would be for Air Miles to cancel its five-year expiry rule.

"Just change the policy like Aeroplan did," he suggests.

Aeroplan introduced a seven-year expiry rule in 2007. But after public outcry, the rewards program axed the plan (external - login to view) before miles started to expire in 2014.

Air Miles customers have also been complaining about long wait times to reach customers service by phone and technical difficulties with the company website (external - login to view).

'You're pretty much hosed': Air Miles rewards lacking for expiring points, customers complain - Business - CBC News
 
Curious Cdn
#2
What a scam, eh?
 
petros
+3
#3  Top Rated Post
Quote: Originally Posted by Curious CdnView Post

What a scam, eh?

Reminds me of carbon credits.
 
tay
#4
Customer outcry continues after a CBC News story revealed that Air Miles blocks members from accessing certain rewards.

The story included disgruntled collectors who said that when they logged into the Air Miles website using an account with few miles, they saw premium merchandise they didn't have enough miles to get. ​But when using a different account with many miles — enough to acquire those premium products — the same items vanished.

Air Miles explains it tailors the loyalty program so that more active collectors get access to more rewards such as merchandise and travel.

But that explanation has only further angered some collectors who claim it just doesn't add up.

Katherine McLaughlin recently contacted CBC News in a fury because she couldn't redeem her miles for a Bose Wave music system.

When she logged in on the Air Miles website using her account, she saw the item advertised for 6,900 miles. McLaughlin was thrilled she had finally found something she wanted, considering that some of her miles would expire in the new year.

The Oakville, Ont., resident had the required points, so she clicked on the ad. That's when she discovered she was blocked from getting the product

McLaughlin complained to an Air Miles online customer service rep who — according to a transcript of the conversation — told her that collectors get a "tailored experience," which, for her, didn't include the music system

CBC News asked Air Miles, which is owned by global company LoyaltyOne, for more details about the tailored experience.

CBC News also spoke with Air Miles collector Nicole Heisler in Calgary. She says her husband, Derek, redeemed a chunk of his close to 10,000 miles in July for a rowing machine and a camera.

The couple was hoping for a Dyson fan and two gaming devices that Heisler had seen previously when she logged in using her account. But those items didn't appear when Derek was looking to redeem his miles.

The next day, Heisler says she logged in using her membership which had a meagre 168 miles. She says she found the products they had wanted but that her husband — who could afford them — didn't have access to.

Heisler says Derek then called Air Miles and threatened to tell his story to the media unless he could exchange the rowing machine for a couple of the products he wanted. She says he got his way and the rewards he was looking for suddenly were available for him to claim.

Heisler says she's not an active Air Miles user but her husband is. So she doesn't buy the company's explanation that more active members get more rewards.

"It just sounds like B.S. to me," she says. "Their explanation doesn't add up at all.

Air Miles also told CBC News that tailoring rewards is typical industry practice.

Loyalty program expert Sojka disagrees. He says, typically, while rewards programs may offer extra perks to more active collectors, "this is the first time I'm aware of awards being blocked to members."

CBC News checked with other popular rewards programs. The ones run by Shoppers Drug Mart, Loblaws, Canadian Tire and Scene, the movie loyalty program, all said that all of their members have access to every reward

Aeroplan said that its top earners get exclusive offers but that all members have access to the loyalty program's main catalogue which includes merchandise and travel rewards.

Sojka says he's stumped why Air Miles would prevent customers from accessing all items in its catalogue.

He wonders if it has anything to do with the fact that people are clamouring to redeem miles before they disappear on Jan. 1. That's when miles older than five years start expiring.

"Are they trying to keep people from redeeming their miles so that they do actually expire at the end of this year? You never know."

Customers say Air Miles explanation for hiding rewards 'doesn't add up' - Business - CBC News
 
bobnoorduyn
#5
Glad I redeemed mine last fall, got a 60" smart TV within a week
 
eh1eh
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by bobnoorduynView Post

Glad I redeemed mine last fall, got a 60" smart TV within a week


It's the small user that's getting screwed.
This year I have got two Fitbits, a Sthil power washer and Sthil combination weedy hedge trimmer which has a few other potential attachments and I'm getting some nice headphones this week too. Then I'll have only about 2000 dream miles to use up. I had 24,000 at one point.
 
bobnoorduyn
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by eh1ehView Post

It's the small user that's getting screwed.
This year I have got two Fitbits, a Sthil power washer and Sthil combination weedy hedge trimmer which has a few other potential attachments and I'm getting some nice headphones this week too. Then I'll have only about 2000 dream miles to use up. I had 24,000 at one point.


I collected for 10 years and couldn't find anything to redeem them on that I wanted, and forget about using them for flights, they're never available when you want them. My oldest uses Areoplan for that and it has served her well. Airmiles are not offered at as many places in AB as they were in NS. I did all my shopping at Sobeys and racked up quite a balance too, and once NSLC started offering them, (like the LCBO has for like ever) that only helped. But we were told a good five or more years ago that the points would begin to expire. I waited until I was moved in in AB before I redeemed them because I didn't want to haul the thing across the country. I am kicking myself though since I could have instead got a 55" TV and had enough left over for a nice DSLR camera. Like you, I only have about 2000 miles left and that won't get me much.
 
Danbones
#8
I got a 42 in LG flatscreen out of the bin, and just bent the power supply section circuit board till the cold solder joints got proper contact...
Solder melts well below the flash point of paper towel, of which I used two under the board to bend it against its mounting screws.
There was also a universal remote in there too.

Good buy dead 19" computer monitor
hello 42" HD 1080P

There really isn't anywhere I wanted to fly to anyhow...
 
Machjo
+2
#9
I've got a friggin deck of points rewards cards. Every friggin shop in Canada has its own rewards programme now.

We should just outlaw points programmes and force shops to compete on cost, no more friggin gimmicks.

Banks should not be allowed to charge shops to allow us to use our credit cards either. That just imposes extra costs on companies which they pass on to us. Why do you think banks giveus points. 'cause they want us to use the cards and pay more for food thinking we're getting a good deal.

I like some shops in China town. No points programme gimmicks, don't accept credit cards, and dirt cheap food.

Just a shame I live far from China town though.
 
Danbones
#10
Don't fret Mac
they will have drone delivery soon
say, about those drone delivery air miles....

I have to say though
It's a good thing they don't do this for sporting events:
Something about getting them to cough up 'air balls...
 
Machjo
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by DanbonesView Post

Don't fret Mac
they will have drone delivery soon
say, about those drone delivery air miles....

good thing they don't do this for sporting events:
Something about getting them to cough up 'air balls...

Oh please, not another points programme. I could draw kings and queens and hearts and spades and make a deck of playing cards out of all of my points cards!

They won't even fit my friggin wallet anymore.
 
Danbones
#12
LOL, air balls could be kept in another compartment of your pants...
help balance the load...
 
PoliticalNick
#13
We have the RBC Avion. Do a lot of online shopping through their site which gives 2x-10x the points We pay almost all our bills on it. Usually have enough to get an all-inclusive, 5-star week in Mexico for 1 of us every year.
 
Ludlow
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by PoliticalNickView Post

We have the RBC Avion. Do a lot of online shopping through their site which gives 2x-10x the points We pay almost all our bills on it. Usually have enough to get an all-inclusive, 5-star week in Mexico for 1 of us every year.

PoliticalNick likes to get hosed if there's a free dinner and some sweet talk.
 
PoliticalNick
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by LudlowView Post

PoliticalNick likes to get hosed if there's a free dinner and some sweet talk.

I could have asked for a free dinner????
 
Danbones
#16
well...dinner for one....
 
bill barilko
#17
 
Danbones
#18
well now there is a use for those little tickets
 
Murphy
#19
Another marketing gimmick has run its course. Bring back Gold Star stamps!

 
tay
#20
Class-action lawsuit filed against Air Miles


The lawsuit's statement of claim alleges that Air Miles "engaged in unfair practices" that include introducing an expiry policy without adequate notice and making it "increasingly difficult" for members to redeem miles that start expiring on Jan. 1.

Class-action lawsuit filed against Air Miles, alleging unfair customer treatment - Business - CBC News
 
petros
#21
Quote:

For 95 miles, customers can get a $10 gift card in the cash category.

Liquor from Sobeys
 
tay
#22
Liberal MPP's bill to stop expiry of rewards points passes second reading


Back in the fall of 2007, the provincial government banned expiry dates on gift cards, and it’s now considering extending that protection to consumers who are often blindsided by the expiry of rewards points.

Bill 47, also known as the Protecting Rewards Points Act, passed second reading at Queen’s Park on Thursday.

The bill was tabled by Beaches-East York MPP Arthur Potts on Oct. 20. Potts believes it has “unanimous support” and will pass without resistance.

He says many of his constituents have complained about feeling cheated by companies that are ending, or have abruptly devalued their rewards points programs.

Notably, Air Miles collectors were told to use ’em or lose ’em before their accumulated miles expire on Dec. 31, 2016.

“We will not allow companies to have them expiring,” Potts said. “We think that someone has paid for a product, they’ve got some reward points, they should be able to use them.”

“I want to ensure…that they continue to hold the value they had when they first got them,” he added. “There’s 100 per cent support in the house.”

Liberal MPP's bill to stop expiry of rewards points passes second reading - CityNews (external - login to view)
 
Tecumsehsbones
#23
Air miles are free.

And worth every penny.
 
tay
#24
I don't collect points because I rarely shop retail but these people complaining have a point and at the same time they are dreamers. The 2 in the story were saving up for years towards trips but instead used the points to buy weenie gadgets. My question is, just how many years would they have to collect these points for to get enough to take those trips.........?


Angry Air Miles collectors demand back points they rushed to use on 'junk'


On Thursday, Air Miles cancelled its controversial expiry policy. But the move is only fuelling the fury for many collectors who used their points on stuff they didn't really want to beat the clock.

Now, some members who hastily redeemed their miles for what they consider mediocre rewards are demanding that Air Miles return their points.

"It's the right thing to do," says Alex Bielak in Waterloo, Ont.

Since the loyalty program launched in 1992, Bielak had been saving up his miles so that he and his wife, Roberta, could take a "trip of a lifetime" to Southeast Asia or Japan.

But that dream died when Bielak realized he was set to lose about 20,000 miles on Jan. 1 when a new five-year expiry rule would kick in for points.

So, over the last couple of months, he used the miles on a blender and an espresso maker that he "really could have done without."

Then, on Thursday, Bielak learned that Air Miles was nixing its expiry policy because of customer outcry, and the threat of pending Ontario legislation that would ban loyalty programs from expiring points.

That means if Bielak hadn't cashed in, he could still be saving for his dream vacation.

"It's horrible. I regret having signed up."

Joining the fray is Corey Rogers in Bridgewater, N.S. He had been hoarding his miles for more than a decade so he could take his family to Disney World.

But to beat the expiry date, Rogers and his wife, Amanda, recently cashed in 15,000 miles on a vacuum cleaner and three other items he can't even recall.

"It was basically junk," said Rogers.

Then he learned he didn't need to buy anything after all. "It really ticks me off. It's very upsetting."

So Rogers, too, sent LoyaltyOne an email on Friday.

"We feel we should get those miles back," he told the company. "This is not fair."

Air Miles declined to comment to CBC News on Friday.

Angry Air Miles collectors demand back points they rushed to use on 'junk' - Business - CBC News


 
tay
#25
Seems the shenanigans are continuing.....


Air Miles collectors will now need to cough up more miles when booking vacation or cruise packages. That's because the rewards program has lowered the value of miles in the category by about 20 per cent.

The program made the move without informing its collectors. CBC News asked the program this week if it had devalued any miles. It said only that it was "carefully reviewing" its options.

Collector Allison Peters only found out because she tried to book a vacation package to Mexico. Between the time she researched the trip and finally was able to contact Air Miles by phone to book it, she discovered her trip would now cost much more.

"I was surprised and then I was angry," says Peters.

She estimated the more than $11,000 worth of miles she had to book a trip suddenly plummeted to a value of about $9,000.

"I feel like they've stolen over $2,000 of available travel to me," says Peters, who lives in Victoria. "I'm really unimpressed."

Air Miles told CBC News Friday that it adjusted the pricing for vacation packages because this is a "subsidized" rewards category requiring a higher level of customer support.

Customers can't book vacation packages online. They must contact the program by phone. That has always been the case.

Peters believes Air Miles devalued some miles to make up for lost profits when its owner, Toronto-based LoyaltyOne, cancelled its controversial expiry policy last month.

"This is just another way for them to make some money that they were looking to make from the expiry," she says.

Peters says she's speaking out about her experience because she wants other collectors to know that Air Miles has devalued vacation package miles.

She says it took her five phone calls over four days, speaking to different Air Miles employees before a supervisor finally confirmed to her the details.

"This is a substantial shift and it was like going through a fortress to get the information I was after," says Peters.

After complaining that Air Miles put no information in writing, she says the supervisor told her that "it is their policy to be able to change their program at any time without notice to the collector."

Air Miles told CBC News that its agents who help members book trips have been very clear about the value of miles in the category. It also said that collectors can use a calculator on its website that will tell them the value of vacation package miles.

After Peters expressed her concerns to the program, Air Miles allowed her to book her Mexico trip using miles based on their original value.

But after all she's endured, she's still considering leaving the program.

"I'm not sure it's worth it," says Peters.

Air Miles quietly drops value of some points, angering collectors - Business - CBC News
 
Curious Cdn
#26
Quote: Originally Posted by MurphyView Post

Another marketing gimmick has run its course. Bring back Gold Star stamps!

They've been trying to get rid of Canadian Tire money and switch it out for loyalty cards. Canadian Tire money must be the most successful rewards program ever but either it costs more to maintain than CT is willing to shell out or a new generation of smartypants MBAs look at the scheme and think "Grandpa". Anyway, I can imagine the corporate meeting where they decided to phase out Canadian Tire money:

"Waddam I holding up?! Hunh?! Our money is a joke! It's gotta go!... Right, O'Toole!?" "Yes I.D.! You are never wrong, J.D.!" "Listen up!! I have. vision!! A vision for a new type of customer loyalty program! I call it a 'Loyalty Card!" "Wow! Loyalty Card!! What a concept!! You're a genius, J.D. ... a GENIUS!!!"

I notice that they have been very cautious about implementing this "new" type of rewards program. Perhaps, it is because most of us have wallets that are already jam-crammed with rewards cards. I guess that if the marketing genius actually gets it wrong and CT sales decline because you don't get "money" back, anymore he/she might end up running the Denture department at the trading post in Tuktoyaktuk.
 
tay
#27
Air Miles has posted a letter on its website warning that criminals have stolen cash miles from some of its members.

The rewards program says a small number of in-store transactions with stolen cash miles has occurred in which the criminals used them to buy goods.

Air Miles spokeswoman Rachael Montgomery says the manner in which the cash miles were fraudulently accessed has not compromised members’ personal information.

She said the company is not sharing more specific details at this time because its investigation of the breach is ongoing.

While the company works to resolve the situation, it has temporarily removed the cash miles option for in-store purchases.

Montgomery said the company does not have a timeline in place for how long the suspension will be in effect.

Air Miles officials investigating after reports of stolen cash rewards - National | Globalnews.ca (external - login to view)
 
taxslave
#28
Quote: Originally Posted by tayView Post

Air Miles has posted a letter on its website warning that criminals have stolen cash miles from some of its members.

The rewards program says a small number of in-store transactions with stolen cash miles has occurred in which the criminals used them to buy goods.

Air Miles spokeswoman Rachael Montgomery says the manner in which the cash miles were fraudulently accessed has not compromised members’ personal information.

She said the company is not sharing more specific details at this time because its investigation of the breach is ongoing.

While the company works to resolve the situation, it has temporarily removed the cash miles option for in-store purchases.

Montgomery said the company does not have a timeline in place for how long the suspension will be in effect.

Air Miles officials investigating after reports of stolen cash rewards - National | Globalnews.ca (external - login to view)

Are they referring to the people running the Air Miles program?

There is a bar in Campbell River that took CTV money at par.
Air Miles isn't the only one. I have a CIBC credit card that gives me 2cents a liter off gas at Petrocan. Which is the only reason I have it. All of a sudden they cancelled the gas giveaway and now you can get a couple of dollars back when you buy $6000 worth of groceries on your card. Needless to say I don't use that card any more.
 

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