A week ago US Airways emailed a large number of the members to say that they were being given 1000 free miles.
The subject of the email was “They’re waiting in your account!”
Miles make you smile…
…And they get you where you want to be
We know you love award travel…and we love seeing you happy! So, we added 1,000 bonus miles to your account.* We hope these miles get you a little closer to your next award trip. Keep flying and using Dividend Miles partners and you’ll be on your way in no time!
Only they weren’t waiting in my account. Or just about anyone else’s.
And at the end of the week they sent a follow up email titled “Oops!”
Earlier this week, we inadvertently delivered an email message to many of our Dividend Miles members’ email accounts. Unfortunately, one of those accounts was yours. Worse, this email incorrectly stated that we posted 1,000 Dividend Miles into your account. This was not accurate and the email message was sent in error.
We apologize for any inconvenience this might have caused you and appreciate your understanding.
I admit, when I started reading the email I thought they were saying, “Hey, we’re sorry, we said the miles were already in your account and they weren’t. We didn’t mean to send out that email, but not to worry, we’ll give you the miles anyway, they’ll be in your account within 6-8 weeks.”
But no… the e-mail suggested the opposite, something to the effect of “Miles make you smile… but we’re pretty far away in Tempe and can’t see the expression on your face anyway. So no miles for you.”
Some folks got pretty tinked over it. I wasn’t entitled to the miles, they made a mistake, no big deal. It would have been a nice thing for them to make good on their promise of miles, but I didn’t lose any sleep when they said they weren’t going to give out the miles. I really wasn’t inconvenienced by the mistake.
Well, it turns out they will give you the miles if you ask though!
And The Points Guy shared his script for getting the miles posted with a quick phone call.
I called 800-428-4322 and then hit 3 for Dividend Miles. I entered my Dividend Miles number and zip code when prompted by Alan, their chipper automated machine. I then hit 0 when they started rattling off my account information and was immediately transferred to a phone rep.
Me: “Hi there. I got an email from US Airways recently promising me 1,000 free miles and they still haven’t showed up in my account”.
Rep: “Oh really? When did you get this email?”
Me: “I think it was Tuesday- it said miles would be waiting in my account, but I checked all week and they still aren’t there.”
Rep: “Please verify your account number, address and phone number”
Me: Provides details.
Rep: “Sir, thank you so much for your patience. I’ve just added the 1,000 points to your account so your new balance is xxx,xxx. Have a great day”
Me: “Thanks, you too!”
And that’s pretty much just how my call went too, took about two minutes, no pushback at all and no searching for promotions. They seemed to know exactly what I was talking about, verified that the miles weren’t already in the account, and posted them immediately.
Way to go US Airways! And I admit, I can’t really fault them for not posting these to everyone’s account automatically. If my bank adds money to my account, and then corrects their mistake, I don’t expect the funds. Still, it’s a nice customer service gesture to honor the points for anyone who cares enough to ask.
That said, I also think adding miles at random to folks accounts and saying ‘we like you’ can be a pretty good strategy for an airline to encourage further business and further mileage accumulation, if done right. There are some downsides and problems with the particular past implementions, but airline programs frequently used to give members points when they redeemed all the miles in their accounts because they wanted them to feel closer to a reward, and that was what was going to motivate them to participate more going forward. Of course, redemption alone turns out to be a great motivator for future engagement and bonuses cleaning out an account encourages members to do just that. But a points fairy, combined with the write e-mail, could be a powerful tool. Hopefully US Airways will try again, and we’ll all be a free 1000 miles richer again, too!