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Delta Promotion Gone Sour – When Good Rewards Go Bad

by Jason Steele

Last week, I was ecstatically writing about the big new Delta Airlines promotion that offered a 150% mileage bonus on top of all partner activity. According to the word of the promotion, called the Terms and Conditions, all non-airline partner activity was included in this promotion.

Too Good To Be True?

The terms and conditions specifically stated that reward card transfers were included in this promotion. Starwood Preferred Guest and Diner’s club were mentioned by name. That would mean that transfer of 20,000 Starwood points and my receipt of 25,000 Delta SkyMiles would earn a bonus of an additional 37,500 SkyMiles, for a total of 62,500 SkyMiles. This deal was incredible, as I and many other travel bloggers wrote on Wednesday and Thrusday of last week.

On Friday, the registration page for the promotion offered the message: “We’re sorry, this campaign is currently not active”.

Chaos Ensues

Immediately, the online world travel aficionados went into chaos speculating what had happened. Did Delta cancel the promotion? Is the cancellation retroactive? Did it even exist in the first place, or was it offered by error? I and others have sent e-mails to Delta, but have received no response. Other have called Delta, and have received conflicting responses.

Where It Stands Now

In the absence of any official word from Delta, those of us who were lucky enough to register for the promotion, should receive the extra SkyMiles. As best I can tell from reading hundreds of posts on this subject, Delta has merely cut off new registrations, but has every intent of honoring the promotion for those who had registered while they could.

There is some indication that Delta may not include the bonus for Starpoints transfers, but there is no written, official word on that. It is all very confusing, and Delta has been extremely uncommunicative. It would be very easy for them to send out an e-mail to those who registered, put a post on it’s blog, or replace the registration page with something a little more informative than ” “We’re sorry, this campaign is currently not active”

These Things Happen

Early last year, I ran across a United Airlines promotion (before I swore never to do business with them again). I registered for this promotion that would earn me 25,000 MileagePlus miles for three flights taken within a couple months. Fortunately, I was scheduled to take those free flights. After I had taken them, I never received the miles. I got into many heated discussions with them, but they seemed not just unwilling, but incapable of giving me the miles they promised. They first claimed, I hadn’t registered, then they claimed the flights I took didn’t count, before finally disclosing it wasn’t in their power to grant me the miles for the promotion. With each conversation, and each escallation, I was given 5,000 miles as a courtesy. Ultimately, I didn’t get all the miles, but I got enough for my purposes and gave up on the promotion, and ultimately the whole company.

What You Should Do

1. Register Immediately: It seems like those of you who registered on Thursday or Friday will make out like bandits, while the procrastinators will not.

2. Print everything out. Print out the registration page with all of your info before you hit submit. Print out the confirmation page afterwards. Print out all of the terms and conditions as well. While I don’t imagine they will end up as evidence in a court of law, just having them may be the difference between the company meeting their terms, or just offering you a few miles to go away.

3. Stand your ground. I once transferred some Starpoints to United. The confirmation screen told me that I would get a certain number of bonus miles, but it didn’t show up in my account. I had a print out of the confirmation message. The Starwood customer service representative explained to me that I was not entitled to the mileage, and that their computer system was in error. I explained to the representative, and later the supervisor, that their system told me I would get the miles before I confirmed the transfer, and that, while I understand the computer program has a bug, they are still obligated to uphold the transaction under the terms I agreed to. They agreed, and credited me with the additional miles. Presumably, they fixed the bug later.

4. Try To Deal With Reputable Programs. The simple fact is that some programs are better than others. Starwood and American Express will usually stand by you if there is a problem. Other programs are poorly run, and not backed up very well. If you see a great reward credit card offer by a lesser known company, do some Googling to see what others have concluded, before doing anything more than registering for the promotion.

Every company offers promotions throughout the year. We as customers make decisions based on their terms and conditions. When a company decides they have made a mistake, and offers a promotion that they feel is too generous, they still have an obligation to uphold its terms for those who agreed to them. It is their world, we just live in it.

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