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Friday, December 2, 2016

AIR MILES drops its unpopular expiry policy!

 I'm pretty sure most of you have seen this news that came out late Thursday afternoon! What a ride it has been over the past 9 or so month! After so much backlash, bad press, a class action lawsuit, the potential bill to make expiring points illegal and just a day before a scathing report to come out by CBC Marketplace, AIR MILES has finally succumbed to the pressure and dropped its very unpopular expiry rule (read the press release here). This is great news in that the expiry is gone but it may be a little too late for the company to save face.

This is a win-lose for the consumer. A win in that those who haven't redeemed and get to keep their hard earned miles. A lose for those who have rushed to redeem so that they don't lose their miles and ended up redeeming for something they really did not want. Looking into the crystal ball there may be a change to the class action lawsuit now to cover this 'forced hand' by AIR MILES. There are also those of you have switched over to cash rewards, in our household we went from 100% dream miles to a 50/50 split in September and have already earned over 200 Cash Miles and redeemed twice although I would have preferred to earn and use those as dream miles. AIR MILES is a secondary program for Rewards Canada but still significant since the balance has been growing steadily.

Related: When and why secondary loyalty programs can prove to be valuable)

For AIR MILES, the damage is done. Yes they got a lot of miles off the books with everyone rushing to redeem but they didn't get as many off the books as they had hoped on January 1st, 2017. The majority of customers are not happy. If was to guess I would say 1 in 10 of people we have talked to via email, social media or on the numerous call in radio shows we have been on were happy with the program. The long waits on the phone to reach customer service, the fluctuating reward options that showed better rewards for new members than those who have been active for years, the having to make an appointment to have a travel advisor call you back to book travel and never having them call you back cannot be erased. It will take many years for AIR MILES members to regain confidence in the program if they ever do. Many of you have redeemed and cut up your cards. Switched to other programs, switched to cash back (cash is king) or are done with loyalty programs in general.

In the end we still hope the private members bill in Ontario passes on Monday as it would ensure that this won't happen again in the future, from AIR MILES, Aeroplan or any other program. Technically speaking the passing of the bill will only affect WestJet Rewards, Starbucks Rewards and MyHusky Rewards as those are the only three major programs in Canada left with expiry rules. Remember the bill does not touch inactivity rules, a rule that almost every program in Canada including AIR MILES who will still close your account if you don't accumulate or redeem a single mile within a 24 month period.

Related: Expiry and Inactivity Rules of Canadian Loyalty Programs


Let's hear it people! What are your thoughts? Did you breathe a sigh of relief? Are you fuming as you redeemed miles for something you did not want? Please have your free for all in the comments below!


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