Letters – July, 02 2007

Letters – July, 02 2007

Chase(ing) Down Lost Discount
This is my very first e-mail message or letter to you after many years of subscribing to and enjoying InsideFlyer! I wanted to alert you to a significant problem with the new Chase/Continental MasterCard. After reviewing the materials sent to me by Chase last January and after reading your favorable review, I agreed to allow Chase to “upgrade” my card from a World MasterCard which I had since 2005 to the new Presidential Plus MasterCard. Being a devoted reader and a careful consumer, I questioned the individual taking my application at Chase regarding the benefit package noting specifically that maintaining the same card number and the five percent discount for online Continental ticket purchases were critical features that I wanted to maintain.

I was assured by Chase that both conditions would be honored when the new card was issued. To my chagrin, I lost both my old number and more importantly immediately lost the five percent discount for ticket purchases. Assuming it was an error, I contacted the Internet help desk at Continental by phone and was informed that they had received many calls from other frustrated members like me. I received similar information from staff at the Presidents Club staff on the phone and even from Continental’s Executive Office with whom I spoke earlier today. Continental staff implied it was a problem with the way Chase programmed the new cards and advised me to contact Chase which I have done over the last two weeks and escalated my concerns up to their executive level to no avail. Staff at Chase’s Executive Line (Becky) and at Continental (Victor Llano) acknowledged the problem and the fact that I and many other MasterCard holders received incorrect and incomplete information from Chase when applying for the new card but say that there was nothing they could do about restoring the benefits lost.

Since I and many others trust your endorsement of this product, I thought it important that I let you and your staff know about this issue so that you can alert other potential card applicants to the likely loss of this important discount. As a Platinum elite member on Continental who usually flies on full-fare tickets, you can understand my frustration since I never would have applied for the card if I had been given correct and complete information.

FYI: I canceled the card today after several weeks of promises by Chase staff to restore the lost benefits.

Keep up the great work with the magazine. Continental remains a great airline. Too bad they allowed their best passengers to be misled in this fashion by Chase and are so unwilling to assist in rectifying the situation. Caveat emptor!
Michael T.

Bring on the Fees
I’m going to go weird on you now. I’m not the sort of guy who wants to pay more anywhere, and certainly not to the airlines. I realize the airlines have horrid expenses — airport fees, gate fees, fuel, pilots, stewardesses, etc. But the way they act, it is hard to feel sorry for them. And anyway, in my budget situation, I want the cheapest ticket I can get.

But let me — take a deep breath — give praise to Skybus for slapping on several new fees. I see on the ‘net that Skybus will charge you $5 per bag to check them in (first two bags) and $50 for the third bag. Excellent! I pack efficiently, and can board the plane with my carry-on bag and a huge briefcase. No need for me to check in any bags, and maybe the $5 fees that others pay will help keep my ticket price down. I wish all the airlines would start charging money for checking in bags. You know they’re going to be thinking of new fees to add on, and maybe the checked-baggage fee will put off the day when they charge ridiculous fees for something else.
Mark T.

Hospital Bill Miles
In reference to your story in the June about extreme ways to earn miles, I have a personal story that was fun, looking back. My son, now 11 years old, was born three weeks early and developed a life threatening situation at birth (Beta Strep B infection).

This involved him being in a neo.-natal intensive care unit for three weeks. He is 100 percent fine now, thankfully. What I did was convince BC/BS to reimburse me, instead of paying the hospital directly after I paid the hospital and showed proof of payment to them. The bill was just over $80,000. The hospital took Visa, was very happy to talk with me and not an insurance company.

I would call the hospital, tell them to go ahead and bill another $15,000, pay it off and repeat several times within one billing cycle, since my credit limit on AA Citi Bank was only 15K at the time! Thinking back, it was crazy since insurance companies always find excuses to drag out paying service suppliers, etc…

This was done before most of the other promotions were even around, so I thought I was making a killing in frequent flyer points! Prior to this, I had done many, many eight segment days earning, 6,000 miles a day, so this felt like robbing the cookie jar while no one was looking!!
Chris S.

Cheese Cartel
Probably too late for the article. A group of four of us bought a little over $5,000 worth of Emmi cheese, with three of us getting $1,080 worth and one guy getting $2,160 worth.

It was one order that was shipped to us. I had one of the smaller orders and it was 88 pounds of cheese delivered to my house in two big boxes.

The head of our cheese cartel had asked for a sample to be sent and talked to the head of the warehouse (a large grocery chain in NY that shipped as well as had many brick and mortar stores) and he assured the group that all the cheese would have a cert attached. And it did.

I donated the cheese to a charity (there are still constipated homeless people wandering the streets of Ann Arbor), and ended up with 126,000 AA miles for a little over $800.

I also met the guy that most likely brought the Emmi thing to a close. The guy called and asked the Emmi distributor, (not a third party warehouse like we did) for $30K worth of cheese! When the distributor balked, the guy told him that he’d pay $30K for the certs themselves and he didn’t care if he got the cheese!

The terms were changed shortly after that.

It was good while it lasted.

Editors’ note: We received this last letter in response to our research for the June cover story; a bit too late, but it was too good to pass up and we decided to print it for you here. We guess we can all now admit that there is something “cheesy” about these frequent flyer programs afterall.

A Triped Up Report
What is going on with Delta? Why are they still in business? Every time I attempt to use my SkyMiles, all flights are unavailable. Beyond long wait times, the results are always the same. We are talking attempts to secure one seat three to nine months in advance, not during holiday periods, with both source and destination cities supporting three major airports — and still no available seats. Not even indirect or partner flights available.

I called their SkyMiles Support Desk and after being on hold for 20 minutes I got through to Derek Davis, a supervisor in their Atlanta service call center. I asked him what flights are available for one seat between the greater San Francisco area and the greater New York area (regardless of stops). He said there are no seats in 2007 available. And he did not see any seats except for first class in 2008.

I have attempted to use my mileage for over two years with no ability to gain a seat. Now these miles expire in 2009. Is this the grand Delta plan — I guess to return to bankruptcy or completely fail? I have talked to other flyer peers and we agree that the SkyMiles loyalty program is for all purposes defunct and service is of ill-will for flyers.

I would suggest to others to donate and get rid of their SkyMiles and make reservations with true service-oriented airlines. Send a message — loyalty programs need to offer service and value to gain loyalty.
Scott Gordon

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