Mounting frustration as Air Miles expiry deadline looms

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A new expiry policy begins at the end of the year for Air Miles points. As Anne Drewa reports, it has consumers racing to redeem their miles – Aug 3, 2016

The clock is ticking to redeem your Air Miles points as a new expiry policy begins at the end of the year.

Starting December 31, 2016, reward miles older than five years will expire on a quarterly basis. That’s left Canadians across the country racing to redeem their miles before they’re gone.

The looming deadline has left collectors like John Davies frustrated.

The B.C. resident said when he logged on to his account, he was offered fewer items to choose from compared to this daughter-in-law who had collected far fewer points.

READ MORE: Making the most of your reward miles

“She had no ability to get all the items that were on display for her because she didn’t have the miles, where I did have the miles, but I didn’t have the choice,” Davies said. “In my mind, bait-and-switch.”

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Finance writer, Robb Engen, from RewardsCardsCanada said he’s hearing similar frustrations. He said Air Miles has a lot to answer for.

“I really think something funny is going on here,” Engen said.

“Air Miles needs to answer for the fact that they are hiding rewards from certain customers and making it really difficult for people who are trying to redeem their rewards before they expire.”

The headaches don’t stop there.

Davies also said that reaching a customer care representative was almost impossible.

“The website is down a lot of the time. You can’t get through on the phones,” Davies said.

READ MORE: Uber gets into loyalty game with Air Miles partnership

In a statement Air Miles said it offers collectors a robust rewards portfolio.

“Collectors in the same status tier (Blue, Gold, Onyx) and activity level will see the same rewards. Collectors also receive tiered benefits such as flight discounts, merchandise specials, exclusive experiences and personal shopper service.”

Message that pops-up when entering Air Miles’ website.

Air Miles also acknowledged long wait times to speak to an Air Miles customer care specialist is unacceptable.

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It said it’s adding additional temporary and full time agents.

So what can consumer’s do in the meantime? Engen’s advice is to first find out how many of your miles will expire at the end of the year.

Then he said people should get active and start looking.

“What offers really good value are hotel bookings and car rentals. Start looking at your travel options.”

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