TORONTO — Tariq El-Nograshy was planning a vacation to the Philippines this fall using the 115,000 miles built up in his Aeroplan account during years of frequent flights across Canada on business working for a food company.
Then, he got the bad news: the loyalty program had taken away all of his miles.
“I feel like someone at Aeroplan opened my wallet and took $1,500,” the approximate value of the miles, said El-Nograshy at his Pickering, Ont., home.
El-Nograshy fell victim to Aeroplan’s terms and conditions which stipulate a customer must accumulate or consume some miles during a one-year period in order to keep current.
“Expiry policies are very common in the loyalty and frequent flyer industries as they play a role in reminding members to stay active,” Christa Poole, senior manager of external communications for Aeroplan said in an email to Global News.
“Engaged members bring value to a program; their level of engagement drives the business, which in turn, helps the program attract partners that provide high value accumulation and redemption opportunities,” Poole wrote.
The policy is not brand new. Every year, Aeroplan customers face the same fate as El-Nograshy, either because they are unaware of the policy or forget to patronize a partner company or to cash in some miles.
At issue for many consumers is: how hard Aimia, the company behind the Aeroplan brand, works to inform members they’re about to lose everything.
“Aeroplan proactively sends a 12-month expiry notification to inactive members 10-12 weeks prior to their account’s expiration date,” according to Poole. “These are sent via mail or email if the member’s account has a valid email address.”
But how much value is getting a single warning email three months before the points expire? El-Nograshy says he didn’t even see the email, although Aimia told him it was sent. He says a series of emails, or a letter in the post, or a telephone call from Aimia would have been warranted under the circumstances.
“It’s sad that it’s loyalty program — the company business is loyalty!” he said.
El-Nograshy says he waited two hours on hold with Aeroplan to ask for an explanation before the line went dead. He says written appeals to the company have not produced a response.
Aeroplan customers who want to avoid losing their miles need to make sure to make even a small purchase, once per year. Make sure to keep a receipt from the partner as proof.
Alternately, members can redeem any number of miles from an account to stay active.
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