Frugal Travel Guy writes about something of a recent Flyertalk controversy.
mrpickles posted his experience successfully using a mileage-earning debit card to purchase money orders, earning miles and depositing the money orders in his account to restore his balance.
This wasn’t the first time anyone had posted about this particular bank and this particular merchant, but the group of members who knew about the deal went ballistic demanding that the information be removed. They feared exposure on Flyertalk would ‘kill the deal.’
And they’re probably right.
As a moderator of the forum where it was posted, MilesBuzz, I was asked by members to intervene and remove the post. Of course I wouldn’t, as the post was certainly not against the rules. The role of a moderator is not to keep information out of folks’ hands. And not to decide who is entitled to know about a deal and who is not.
My belief has always been along the lines of information wants to be free, that no one has a greater right to it than anyone else. Sure, a deal may get killed by why should the people who know about it have a right to keep it private for their own benefit, rather than letting others have the information and use it before the opportunity goes away? All deals end eventually, and there are always more deals.
Of course, when someone shares information with me confidentially I honor 100% the terms under which it was shared. And I’ve certainly appreciated the information that folks have been good enough to share and the lessons that they’ve taught me over the years — whether the information and the lessons have been private ones or public ones.
But on a public forum, and in an official capacity, I can’t act as a censor.
Anyway, lots of time spent by my co-moderator of that forum cleaning up the personal attacks in the thread. And mrpickles edited out the content from his original post.
And ultimately, the deal isn’t even that useful:
- There are daily and annual mileage earning limits to the debit card which appears to earn miles for these transactions, so it’s really not all that lucrative.
- The bank in question does not intend to award miles for these transactions, at any given moment the opportunity could go away and the effort will have been for naught, folks won’t even know until the miles either post or they don’t.
- And for those that care, the bank doesn’t look kindly on these transactions, if they figure out what you’re doing they may ban you from doing business with them for life. There are already reports of some closed bank accounts.
Despite the limited applicability of the deal, that it was already public, there was quite the uproar. I like to be an information ‘have’ as much as the next guy, but I admit I didn’t get it.
At the same time, I wasn’t going to post about the deal before it was public on Flyertalk, and before Frugal Travel Guy posted about it as well. I ponder whether that makes me a hypocrite. I think that the information ought to be free, but I don’t necessarily play a role in making it so. But once others are writing about it, the horse has left the barn, I’m happy to share the links.
I don’t advise most folks take advantage of this one. I’m not publishing the bank or the store, but a little poking around will reveal pretty easily both answers.