iDine (aka Rewards Network) which partners with several loyalty programs to provide miles for dining has just become half as valuable.
Used to be that all dining activity earned 10 miles per dollar via most airline co-branded relationships. A couple years ago they initially killed the 10 miles per dollar, implementing a new structure of 1 mile per dollar for those signed up for the program, 3 miles for those who create an online profile, and 5 miles per dollar for those who use the program enough to be called ‘VIPs’. After much outcry they added a bonus 5 milers per dollar for VIPs who ‘rate their dine’ after the meal, effectively returning the program to 10 miles per dollar for those who remain engaged enough in the program.
The ‘rate your dine’ bonus was not extended to 2009. It just disappeared off the website.
Initially it was there, a direct link to the offer said it was ongoing. The link on the Delta and United co-branded websites specifically said the offer would expire December 31, 2009, which menas they updated the end-date on the offer from 12/31/08.
In a Flyertalk discussion, though, the a purported representative of the company made the unlikely claim that this was just a web archiving glitch.
(W)e encountered a technical issue that was specific to archived links associated with the Delta SkyMiles Dining and the United Mileage Plus Dining “VIP Rate Your Dine Bonus”. The VIP Rate Your Dine Bonus for all Rewards Network dining programs ended on 12/31/08 – there was no special extension for Delta or United.
How an ‘archived links’ issue could have changed the end-date of the program is unclear. But it doesn’t really matter. The VIP rate your dining bonus has ended. Which means the most you can get out of the program currently, outside of limited-time specific promotions, is 5 miles per dollar. That’s half the earning I’ve experienced since first participating in the program over 10 years ago.
For 10 miles per dollar I’d go out of my way to eat at participating restaurants. For half that, I won’t. And since I’m not overly impressed with the current array of participating DC-area locations, I’ll probbaly even drop down from VIP status since the incremental different over just having an online dining profile is just an extra two miles per dollar.
Seeing the gutting of valuable programs like this is truly, truly sad.