Priority Club giveth, and Priority Club taketh away…

Through May 31 of this year Priority Club was running a pretty fun promotion entitled “Crack the Case.” Basically you had to unlock “latches” to earn bonus points, and the more “latches” you unlocked, the more points you earned.

One of those “latches” could be unlocked by acquiring the Priority Club Visa credit card. Despite not having signed up for the card, I was pleasantly surprised to see 60,000 points post to my account on Friday night, with the following description:

And not surprisingly I woke up this morning to find that same 60,000 points deducted from my account. Apparently I wasn’t alone, since dozens of others reported the same thing (and I assume there were thousands out there in the same boat).

I don’t blame Priority Club for a second, especially since I didn’t do anything to get those points — they posted automatically. It’s different than a mistake rate or offer where you take action to take advantage of something and then it’s not honored.

On the other hand it would have been nice if they had at least sent us an email explaining the situation (“we accidentally posted points to your account on Friday, which we have in the meantime deducted…”). If they really wanted to go the extra mile they could have thrown a few thousand points at those that had the points post, though that’s neither here nor there.

Here’s what I find interesting — a lot of people with (previously) low points balances used those 60,000 points in the short period they were in their account for hotel bookings, gift cards, etc. They now have a negative balance.

Obviously they’re left in limbo as to whether or not those stays/rewards will be honored, so it’ll be interesting to see what Priority Club does.

On one hand it doesn’t seem “fair” that their rewards would be honored while the others that didn’t quickly spend their points are left with nothing. On the other hand, if people made confirmed reservations or instant redemptions, is it really Priority Club’s place to take those rewards back?

I’m torn on this one, though I think it’s an interesting question. What say you?

Comments

  1. AK says

    It’s the devaluation of points/miles! Earn and burn! Those who booked stays with the points should have them honored.

  2. Tim says

    Like you, I’m torn, but I’m leaning toward PC honoring bookings made with points in that interim time period.

    Interestingly, I have CRACK THE CASE-VISA ACTIVATION – 60000 on my account under other activity, though my point balance does not reflect that transaction.

  3. Scott C says

    I wouldn’t evaluate fairness of taking awards back from people who used the points buy comparing it to people who didn’t use the points. Like you said, you didn’t do anything to earn them so there’s no harm in Priority Club taking them back from you.

    But looking at people who did use the points, I think it would be unfair to take their awards. Someone could have booked a trip thinking they’d received bonus points and then purchased non-refundable airfare to go along with that booking. Canceling out their award would seem a little unfair in those circumstances. They’re now stuck with a plane ticket that they otherwise wouldn’t have bought and will have to lay out additional expense to book a hotel room.

    I could envision reasonable arguments about whether people were on notice that they shouldn’t have had the points in the first place and were exploiting the mistake. If I woke up with $600 extra dollars in my bank account, I’d surely check into it before spending it. But getting point bonuses for promotions that you could have lost track of isn’t quite the same as finding unexplained cash in your checking account.

  4. Colleen says

    I too have the +60000 transaction for VISA activation. But I swear my balance was 60000 points higher last night than tonight, and there has been no “-60000″ reversal transaction. Now I’m starting to kick myself for not printing my summary more often – thought I was safe trusting them to keep track. I understand an honest mistake on their part, but seems a reversal transaction should be required to explain a sudden point drop.

  5. deltaGOLDflyer says

    Well I only got 30k and yes they took them back today. What I hate is the fact I can not go back to see where they took them. My guess is the lowered the crack the case total bonus to get them back.

    I am with you that they should have left them at this point. Time to start emailing PC?

  6. says

    Why should people who spent points in their account that were obviously not earned get to keep their rewards?

    Years ago I logged into my HHonors account to find nearly 500,000 points at my disposal at a time when I actually had about 30,000.
    I thought about booking some nice vacations I could book.

    I didn’t.

    After a couple of days the points were removed.

    If your ATM balance read $1,000,000 when you should have $2,000, would you feel it is okay to spend the million?

    A couple did that in New Zealand:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/may/21/new-zealand-millionaires-flee-westpac

  7. Dan says

    Coins, what makes you think PC will honor the awards that were already claimed? They can void them.

    I ‘lost’ 30,000 points. It was nice while it lasted.. Have you read the ‘train wreck’ AA 83,000 point thread in MileBuzz (locked last night)? Can you imagine what those (editorial comment) crybabies would do with the PC error?

    FYI, I still have the new highest status showing in my account.

  8. Gene says

    These “awards” should absolutely NOT be honored. I really don’t understand why there is even a question about this.

  9. jmd001 says

    While I got (and lost) the 60k points, the lingering bone I have been thrown (like Dan) is that my status still shows as Platinum (which I did not earn). Will have to see if PC ratchets me back to my earned Gold status.

    My view is that anyone who uses obviously unearned points does so at their own peril and should be prepared to accept the consequences (e.g., “stuck” with an non-refundable plane ticket). What if you personally had accidentally deposited money in someone else’s bank account, would you feel that other account was entitled to use it? My answer is NO. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

  10. Andyandy says

    Alright, here’s my take. There are two classes of people here. 1) for those who did not get the PC visa the points were an obvious mistake; 2) for those who did get the PC visa, the mistake is not obvious. Given how generous the entire promo was, I wasn’t shocked to (temporarily) get another 60K out of it. Didn’t make any bookings though.

  11. Jay says

    I received and then lost 30K. My take is some of us may be entitled to these points. I did unlatch the PC visa yet never received 30K points for that latch as stated in my C-t-C rather I received 60k points for a visa first spend activation through Chase. Perhaps PC is now realizing this and providing points to those who earned them via the T&C as stated within C-t-C.

  12. Senorric says

    I had 30,000 points given then taken away. My initial C the C offering for the credit card was for 30,000 points but declined to spring for it. In February, I signed up for the 60,000 point Priority Club Credit Card and received my 60K points. Guess my question now is am I entitled to the 30K points originally offered for getting the credit card or not? I can understand that if you NEVER applied = no points but if you did, are the points due? Anybody successfully get both the CC bonus AND the C the C bonus?

  13. Scott C says

    @those thinking the awards shouldn’t be honored.

    There seems to be an assumption that it was an obvious error. I think you could have a set of bonus points show up and think you earned them as a result of the promotion. Maybe you lost track of how many points you were supposed to get. I’m not particularly attentive with my points accounts. I probably lose out on points all the time because I don’t really follow through with whether awards are posting correctly. I am surprised when I see points about things I forgot I signed up for. In short, I absolutely don’t monitor it like my real dollars.

    Resorting to ridiculous analogies like finding $1,000,000 in your account when you should only have $2,000 isn’t really wrestling with the question. The issue is are there any people that could have acted honestly on this mistake and incurred financial costs because of it. I think there could be and it would be in PC’s best interest to work for a solution for those people.

    There are more options than just voiding out the awards. If I had made a booking and also incurred other non-refundable charges around it, I would like it if PC would honor the award but make me carry a negative balance until I earned the points back. Yes, I can imagine some people might make off with the points then and never stay at PC again. Maybe honoring part of the award is an option. I’m sure there are other options to explore.

    And to take the bank analogy further, while I certainly think it is my responsibility to monitor my finances, I would be upset if my bank put some extra money in my account and I moved it and then they just took it out again without telling me. Especially if it were an amount that wouldn’t trigger obvious alarms with me. It wouldn’t be too much for them to contact me and tell me that I owed them the money before automatically taking it back which could cause me to incur tons of NSF fees. Again, I’m not saying the bank would be wrong in their actions, but as a customer, if they took such an action that could have been easily avoided by exploring more customer-friendly options, I’d look elsewhere.

    But ultimately I was trying to point out that there are real reasons to treat customers who redeemed the points differently than those who did not. And perceived unfairness by honoring awards should not be a reason to give the points back to people who suffered no injury at all.

  14. UAPremierGuy says

    Add me to the list of people that this happened to. I also was mysteriously awarded Platinum status (can’t remember if that was part of the promotion or not). Hopefully that doesn’t get taken away, too. I was so looking forward to consolidating my loyalty to one or two hotel programs with this status.

  15. Dan says

    @Scott C,

    I thinking this way:

    -1% of their membership know it’s an error because they’re Flyertalkers.

    - 1% of their members were checking their accounts and found this ‘bonus’.

    - 98% of their membership doesn’t have a clue as to what happened. Smile.

  16. Stephen says

    Like UAPRemierGuy I was awarded platinum status. FYI it is based on points earned in the year. My account reflects my having earned (and lost) 60K points. It is just enough to make me consider a paid stay or two unless they the status away.

  17. Diane says

    I found the 60,000 points posted to my account and actually thought it was for using my own Visa. So I booked a stay, then 2 days later my account showed a big, red, negative balance. I called to find out what was going on and they explained it was a mistake but reservation would be honored and I would have a negative point balance.
    We’ll see what happens when I check in!

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