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Making Good On A Sign Up Bonus

by Jason Steele

Last fall, I wrote about a fantastic sign up bonus from Frontier Airlines.    The promotion was 20,000 miles when you got the card, and 20,000 more miles after you spent $750 before February 28th.    Considering Frontier offers a domestic award ticket for 20,000 miles, that was a fantastic deal.  My wife and I jumped on it, and immediately received the first 20,000 miles.      We then dutifully devoted $750 of our spending to the card, but never received the second 20,000 miles.   February 28th came and went with no bonus.

Calling Makes It Worse

I then called Barclay Bank, the issuer of the Mastercard to inquire as to when we could expect our promised bonus miles.   Their response astounded me.    The first person I spoke with disavowed all knowledge of the promotion!     I read the terms to him verbatim, and I was told point blank that the promotion did not exist!   I asked to speak with a supervisor, and I was told that none was available.    I then politely asked for the representative’s name, and I was hung up on.

On my second call, I immediately lodged a complaint against the representative I had previously spoken to, and was assisted by a more experienced and professional representative.   Despite her best efforts, it was clear that she had no information about the promotion either.    She even took the time consuming step of contacting Frontier Airlines to confirm the program exists and that Barclay Bank was responsible for awarding the miles.    Nevertheless, all she could do was to create a “case for executive review”, with the promise that someone would contact me in regards to this matter.

My next step, as a journalist and consumer advocate was to reach out to their public relations department to try to find answers.    I was assured that the promotion did exist, despite the best knowledge of their call center, and that the bonus miles would appear with my next statement following the end of the promotional period on February 28th.     The bank had no comment has to why the call center did not know of the existence of the promotion.

Finally, Here Are My Miles!

On March 10th, the miles finally did appear.    So the promotion appeared in November, I signed up for the card in December, made the qualifying purchases in January, and waited patiently until march to receive the bonus miles.    While this timetable is par for the course when it comes to credit card promotions, the information provided by Barclays was inexcusably poor.     Is it too much to ask to give some information to representatives about their own offer?    Could they not tell me the date in which the bonus miles will be credited?

Lessons Learned

From the moment the first representative I spoke with refused to acknowledge the existence of this promotion, I immediately regretted not taking screen shots of the entire offer.    Capturing a screen image on your computer is actually fairly easy.    For Windows users, just click on Alt-Print Screen, then open up the Paint program and press Control-V or choose Edit, Paste.     Finally, save the file as a .jpg file so it doesn’t take up much space.

Lacking a screenshot, I did have copies of articles in which myself and others wrote about the terms of this offer.     By themselves, those articles would not have been much good if I chose to go the legal route in small claims court, but it might have helped to convince someone that the promotion existed and that I complied with it’s terms.

In the future, I vow to never sign up for any credit card or promotion without saving the terms of the offer to my computer.     Even though Barclay Bank and Frontier eventually came through, I would prefer to play it safe.    Any time I accept an offer, I am going to create a file on my computer with all the information necessary for a fight.    In reality, I do not ever expect to have to take an airline or a credit card company to court, if only because having the promotion documented assures that the other party will always make good on the deal, rather allowing a case to proceed.

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3 Responses to “Making Good On A Sign Up Bonus”

  1. oasisman Says:

    Great advice….interesting story. I’ll make sure to take screen shots before signing up for another credit card.

  2. Eric Says:

    Taking screenshots for Macs:

    * Command-Shift-3: Take a screenshot of the screen, and save it as a file on the desktop
    * Command-Shift-4, then select an area: Take a screenshot of an area and save it as a file on the desktop
    * Command-Shift-4, then space, then click a window: Take a screenshot of a window and save it as a file on the desktop
    * Command-Control-Shift-3: Take a screenshot of the screen, and save it to the clipboard
    * Command-Control-Shift-4, then select an area: Take a screenshot of an area and save it to the clipboard
    * Command-Control-Shift-4, then space, then click a window: Take a screenshot of a window and save it to the clipboard

  3. Amber Costa Says:

    My story is identical to Jason’s right up to receiving the additional 20k miles for the $750 cumulative purchases, which I still have not received. My call history to Barclays is:

    11/5/09 – Charles: I called and confirmed what I needed to do to earn the 2nd 20k
    12/15/09 – Korene: I had charged well over the required $750, but had not gotten the additional 20k, I was told that I had indeed earned it and it would be awarded w/in 30 days of the promo spending end date of Feb 28, 2010
    2/23/10 – Borj: I called on another matter, so I took the time to confirm what I’d been told on 12/15 to be true.
    4/5/10 – 20k bonus miles are now past due. Ian said he can “see them” and that Frontier will take 2-3 days to “archive them”
    4/12/10 – 20k still a no-show. This time I refused to h/u until I’d gotten the 20k bonus. I spoke to 3 people:

    Mel – out of the blue told me I do not have an additional 20k coming, even though it was there all previous calls. Then he said I must have already redeemed them. Not-I have not flown Frontier since I got the card. Then he said that I had not used them soon enough they were expired. What, they have not even been awarded yet, how can they be expired? This conversation repeated itself several times while I went back and forth from holding for a supervisor, to him coming back on trying to tell my that he has looked at my records and there is no 20k additional bonus. My phone died and we got cut off after 40 min’s.

    Cherry – I called right back, a “case for executive review”, was made and someone would call me back, I said not good enough considering the history. She had me hold for a manager.

    Heather the Manager – She said that a “case for executive review” has already been set up, there is nothing else to do and that the process will take up to 2 billing cycles, in other words 2 months, yes TWO MONTHS! I told her not good enough, Frontier is raising their round trip miles tickets from 20k to 25k in June. She then repeated herself, I told her does not need to repeat, I heard her but that is not good enough. I then told her if it takes two months, they owe me 10k more to make up for the increase (5k+5k per round trip ticket). She said they will never do that. Best I could do is get a fax number and address for their Customer Care Correspondences as follows: Fax – 866-823-8178, PO Box 8801, Wilmington DE 19899.

    I find it a very strange coincidence that the problem of the additional 20k will not be resolved in time for me to use it before Frontier’s rate goes up to 25k. Makes me FEEL like I am being scammed.

    On interesting note… my dad was an executive at the “Director” level with the original Frontier Airlines at the old Stapleton Airport for many years. IMHO, the original Frontier would never have allowed this type of behavior!

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