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Loyalty miles program needs an upgrade

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By Christopher Elliott
Published:
Question: I'm having an issue with Points.com I thought you might be able to help resolve. I recently traded 6,000 American Airline miles for 6,000 JetBlue miles, with a transaction fee of $100. The interface stated that the estimated processing time was five to eight business days.
More than eight days passed, and my account hadn't been credited. So I contacted Points.com. I was told a "system issue" would delay my transfer, but that it would eventually happen.
A few days later I checked in again, sending an email to Points.com. The response: "Our records show that your trade is now completed." But I still didn't have my miles.
I contacted JetBlue last week and was told that it would "investigate." I called again today, and was told that they had submitted a request (their turn of phrase) but "their hands were tied" until Points.com completed the transaction.
Can you offer any guidance please?
Jonathan Govias, Boston, Mass.
Answer: Those points should have been transferred to you account immediately. When they weren't, Points.com should have tracked them down quickly, and without any additional prompting from you.
Let's back up and explain what Points.com does, for the uninitiated. The site allows you to consolidate all of your loyalty programs in one place and trade or transfer miles between programs, for a fee.
I'm a Points.com member, myself. I'm a reluctant participant in a few loyalty programs, even though I'm on record as being a loyalty-program skeptic.
My account balances are strictly tourist-level, because I'm not a serious collector, but for many travelers, being a card-carrying elite is important. I understand that.
But here's something I don't understand: Why pay $100 to transfer $60 worth of miles? Frequent flier miles are valued about 1 cent a mile, give or take. So 6,000 miles would only be worth $60. You must have had a really good reason for doing that.
From your correspondence, I see that you tried to keep an email trail, right up until you received a response that said "do not reply." I'm not sure why any company would accept an email and then tell you not to reply.
I contacted Points.com on your behalf. It responded to you, apologizing for the missing points and for its "do not reply" policy. It promised to review its email practices and posted your missing 6,000 frequent flier miles to your account.
Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. Read his blog, www.elliott.org or email him at celliott@ngs.org.

© 2012 Christopher Elliott/Tribune Media Services, Inc.
Story tags » Travel

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