Letters – October, 21 2011

Letters – October, 21 2011

You’re Welcome, James

I was a loyal Diners Club card member since 1984, and in January 2011 Diners Club cancelled my account due to what they claim was “being in arrears” for four consecutive months (September through December 2010).

I was not notified that my account was cancelled or that I had 30 days to claim my rewards points which totaled 258,932 (earned the old way $1 = 1 point).
I only became aware that my account was so long past due, by a strange event, and that was my receipt of two emails from Diners that I was past due. What’s strange about this is that Diners claims they don’t send emails alerting their customers on late payments.

Notwithstanding, I sent a lump sum payment to Diners to get my account up-to-date, and subsequently found out the reason for my not receiving their statements was due to the U.S. Postal Service not forwarding mail to my home in Wayne, N.J. (I also have a winter home in Pompano Beach, Fla., and use their USPS Mail Forwarding offer).

Further, in my discussions with their representative, never once was the subject of my account cancellation made known to me or that I had 30 days to redeem my points. Were the cancellation and timeline made known to me I would not have hesitated to convert them into miles with American, but they didn’t bother/have the courtesy to inform a long-standing loyal customer of the outcome.

The irony of all this is that Diners computer system, when I accessed my account, did not show any monthly activity from June through December–yes, their own computers were also tardy. I printed statements for the four months, and sent them together with my explanation of the U.S. Postal events to an account rep, but this had no effect; as they wanted to shut me off per their four-month non-payment terms. If they didn’t believe my explanation of the events I laid out in my letter, why then did they issue me a credit of $12.68 for prior months’ interest, but they wouldn’t waive a $35 late fee?
After much dialogue with different levels of Diners Club representatives, I stated if they would not waive the $35, then I would like to have the unused portion of my card member’s fee refunded and close my account, to which they replied no refund of the unused annual fee would be made! Membership ran September through August; thus I am currently in the 30 days after Aug. 31, and requesting points to miles.

Can you intercede on my behalf with Diners Club to have my 258,932 rewards points converted to American Airlines miles; to which I will pay Diners Club their conversion fee? Thank you.
James C. Grapshi

Editors’ note: We contacted Diners Club on James’ behalf and asked him if he would contact us with the outcome. We then received this email message from him:

The problem with Diners Club was cleared up, and my points and credit card have been reinstated. I can’t thank you enough for all that you have done. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Failed Print Attempt

Aeroplan miles redemption is a scam. We ordered a 4-in-1 Dell printer online using our Aeroplan miles. It cost us 31,000 Aeroplan miles. The Dell printer malfunctioned within the third print usage. Dell insisted we are a company, and not a private home. They sent us back to the seller, i.e. Aeroplan, to resolve the issue.

After a month and lots of explanation, the Aeroplan redemption department is refusing to acknowledge our request to get a new printer. And in researching this, we found out that the Dell printer that we received is a refurbished product. Aeroplan scammed us and the company is dismissing any responsibility.
Pina Buono

No Respect

American Airlines’ announcement to quit counting every AAdvantage mile towards a flyer’s lifetime status is an appalling decision. Every mile should count. Changing the rules for loyal customers in the middle of the game shows no respect for the loyalty received.

25,000 or 50,000?

I’ve been with United Airlines for years. The standard redemption for a domestic roundtrip flight was 25,000 miles. Today, even between unpopular routes, and even six or seven months out, it’s all but impossible to obtain a roundtrip fare for less than 50,000 miles. I believe United has quietly increased its standard redemption from 25,000 to 50,000. I have had a good deal of back and forth with customer service. They say there has been no policy change but searches for seats prove otherwise.
Jim S.

No Seat for Free

I bought a business class ticket with frequent flyer miles, JFK-LHR, on British Airways and when I went to try to book a specific seat BA wanted $90 each way to pre-book the seat. Outrageous! I may not use BA for much longer. Please let everyone know about this.
Daryl Higgins

Upgrade Aircraft for Upgrades

I am an American AAdvantage Executive Platinum and live near DFW. I get upgraded about 80 percent of the time but major destinations are tough, such as National, ORD and EWR. What AA needs to do is upgrade their aircraft and start transitioning out of the MD-80s.
D. S.

Looking Elsewhere

To disallow miles previously permitted towards any goal is unfair and shows total disrespect for the customer. I’ve been a loyal AA customer over 10 years and 900,000+ miles (sorry, points). Time to look around again, I think …

Adios to Miles, Hello Avios

Avios points have to be better than what we had. British Airways miles are useless unless you travel to London, Paris, Rome, etc. I tried to book a flight from Chicago to Malaga, Spain and had two choices: one, to fly into Heathrow and depart Gatwick and the other, to use American Airlines and Iberia (both affiliate airlines and supposedly Iberia is part of the same entity as British Airways) and then they would charge double the miles. I booked my flight with American AAdvantage miles and am flying Iberia all the way with no premium on miles charged–40,000 miles roundtrip. It looks like British Airways miles are structured to benefit the airline and not necessarily to accommodate the customer. I can’t see using my British Airlines miles or Avios points in the near future.
David T.

Southwest Still the Best

I’m not thrilled with the new Rapid Rewards but I’ll continue to fly Southwest. Why? Because they are still just a little bit different–in a good way. I recently had a family medical emergency. I was able to buy a ticket for the following day at a rate that wasn’t outrageous knowing too that I could change the return if needed without incurring a fee. I had no idea what I would be facing when I got off the plane, so knowing that I could change my return was helpful.

When I got to the airport, the plane for my flight was running a bit late. I had a connection in LAX, so went to the gate agent just to make sure that everything was running smoothly for my connection. She suggested I take an earlier flight. Once on the plane, however, there was a mechanical problem causing a delay and I realized then that I would have been better off staying with my original flight.

We stayed on the tarmac for quite a while but they then requested everyone get off the plane. I then waited in line to see if I could get back on my original flight. There was a mix-up with my flight record by Southwest causing yet another delay that made me wonder if I’d be able to get on the other flight–and I didn’t want to wait for the plane I was on to get fixed in case they couldn’t fix it and would have to bring in another plane. All the while, time was ticking and I was afraid I’d miss my connection into Houston where my family was waiting for me.

Eventually, Southwest got everything cleared up, gave me a pre-boarding pass to get on the flight and the gate agent even gave me a hug. I also got a $100 voucher to use at a later date–everyone on the delayed plane got one.
I made it to Texas in time to be with my family and was able to change the return flight at no additional cost at all later in the week. If I had been on a legacy carrier, the story would have been very different. Thank you Southwest. You’re there when people really need you. (And thanks for the choice of FREE snacks.)
Deborah J.

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