Priority Club Shopping Toolbar: a Glitch I Decided Not to Write About

Priority Club offered 300 points for downloading their shopping toolbar. That’s the software that helps you automatically earn Priority Club purchases when you visit a merchant you can earn points with. (I don’t recommend earning through the Priority Club portal most of the time as it isn’t as rewarding as other alternatives.)

Friday evening I realized that they didn’t actually make you complete the download and install the toolbar to earn the points, and the only way they kept you from earning the points over and over was cookies or a similar technology.

Unsurprisingly, since I realized it, others did too. Folks were clicking through the download offer over and over using Google Chrome’s incognito mode, earning 300 points each time. Some just hit the back button and then re-submitted over and over, others wrote scripts to do it for them, and they very quickly accumulated at a minimum hundreds of thousands of points.

The reason I didn’t post it is because this ‘felt different’ than a mistake fare, or a discount meant to be targeted but that was opened to everyone.

I haven’t done a total analysis of why, but I wasn’t really comfortable with this one. Usually I share things and let others decide. I wasn’t sure how I felt, I was busy throughout the weekend (notice no posts at all after Saturday morning).

And I thought there were real risks, too. Priority Club has had similar glitches in the past with surveys where you could take them over and over and earn points each time. And they haven’t just reversed the points when the glitch was discovered, they’ve closed down accounts.

Sharing things broadly seemed to me to expose readers to the real risk of getting banned from the Priority Club program, and I didn’t want over-eager folks in that bad position.

Now I’m hearing that’s exactly what’s happening, some accounts being closed now that Priority Club is realizing what happened. It remains to be seen whether folks that earned points and already redeemed then will get to keep their redemptions or not. Too soon to tell.

Question: Should I have written about this, or kept it to myself?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary ┬╗

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  1. I thought Gary did blog about the four square virtual check ins driving by a hotel every day?
    As I understood it, as you went by a location you checked in!
    Sorry Gary, I know you have to draw the line somewhere and I am just curious why here at this point?

  2. Has anyone been shut down over the survey’s? I only had 47,000 pts in my acct (which actually has taken years to acculate since I rarely stay there and most pts were from credit card use) I saw the portal download…that I didn’t do..but, I did get 2,000 pts from taking the survey, and in Japanense last night over and over….I’ve actually have two room reservations in Villach, Austria next week that I booked in May and used 15,000pts + cash payment. I’m hoping I don’t lose my acct AND the reservations…but, I guessing maybe I can’t lose the rooms because I paid cash and pts? Had I read your blog about PC shutting down accts over (I’m new the pts churn/game)stupid survey’s…I sure wouldn’t have done it either. I almost feel like calling them and asking them to remove the pts and apologize!

  3. Can,t blame them for closing accounts, i even praise them for doing so. Many are becoming pure thieves, abusing the system and will make it harder for others. I accumulate more than 2 million miles a year by flying and card spending for my business.

  4. hi,I reward a airline tickets,and received the tickets confirm number.but the pcr cancel the fight,if there is something I can do.I really hope to honor the one ticket.Can I complaint for ihg?

    E-TICKET NUMBER 176 7092**3850 BOOKING REFERENCE C**R3B
    ISSUED BY/DATE AGT 13527231 US
    11AUG20121PBOIOR OISE ID / CONNEXIONS LOYALTY TRAVEL

  5. Well how rightous are you?

    Maybe the tax office should confirm the saintliness of your business credit card spending, and how whether or not you should be taxed on the points accrued?

  6. @ Gary – Some people were getting upward of 18 hits per minute.

    If you have a phantom account set up knowing that PC does not have a very good IT department you could really capture many points and then rapidly cash out via Amazon eGift cards.

    I did not participate because:
    1) I did not want to risk the PC points I already had
    2) As a IC Royal Ambassador I did not want to risk loosing that status
    3) I feel that PC “gives away” points easily already, and that has established respect for the brand, and felt that it would be dishonest to take advantage of this.

  7. I would imagine in shutting down accounts, as opposed to merely taking back the points, they would look hard at how the points were earned. If it’s someone who does stay frequently at their properties, they’ll look at it differently from the case of someone who gets points in other ways. I won’t have much sympathy either way. Play the game robustly, but when you are really just swindling businesses, expect consequences.

  8. Nobody blogged about this and it was immediately shut down? Some anecdotal evidence that blogs don’t ruin deals greed does.

  9. really, no point is posting about a deal that’ll get cancelled because it was a glitch. it’s just going to waste your time to write about it, and our time to read it and either feel loss because we can’t participate, or feel real loss when we game it and accounts get closed.

  10. Spoke to PCR this morning …
    Explained the truth to them: that due to operating system and browser, I could not download Tool Bar, thus tried it several times on various links I found, which resulted in some 15 – 20 credits of the 300 PC points.
    CSR acknowledged, and restored account to ‘as previous’.
    Just hope it STAYS THAT WAY …
    GORDO

  11. Gee Gordo, you can lie to yourself, but not to us!

    You say above that you told them the “truth” about your not being able to download the toolbar and thus you happend to his it a number of times because of the problem.

    Yet, above in your post #49, you advise us what really happened, “Even though I thought I was ÔÇśexploitingÔÇÖ a glitch, I had no idea my PC account could or would be closed as a direct result of my activity.”

    So the real truth is that you were exploiting a glitch, not that you could not download the toolbar and that you just happened to try to download it 15 – 20 times.

    We all know what you are…….

  12. Got 10000 points and got my account reinstated after being locked. They never took the points back. Sweeeeet!!!!

  13. I ain’t no troll, I get my points and vacations legitimately, Say it ain’t so Joeof Black Sox fame! Oh, you don’t know what I am talking about, too bad, maybe if you spent less time stealing and more time reading you would know what I am writing.

    Gordo —

    I need nothing to say, you have said it all with your lies to PC. Join Poop and others, you poopsqueak!

    Ha Ha!

  14. I agree with whoever said it is up to the individual what he or she does. You can’t preach morality or change someone who does not want to change. So, unfortunately, it is not for any of you to put down those who exploit. It is up to the business (i.e IHG) that offers promotions to diligently structure and oversee their programming and correct mistakes ASAP. And, other than that, in all “fairness” please don’t expect apologies or courtesy adjustments when you knowingly take advantage and they later retract the offer.

  15. Anybody here ever fuel dump? Another method of swindling a company, regardless of your opinion on YQ charges. Though I see that one as less of an issue since airlines knew about it but permitted it to continue until it became widely publicized (cough airfarewatchdog) and promptly fixed the same day. Mostly fixed, anyway.

  16. PCR locked my account for a second time in a month.
    No promo entries.
    When phoned – operator mentioned “random audit” that takes a week to clear.
    How can any PCR account holder feel confident in having a sizable bank of points, when you never know if you will be ‘selected’ for a so-called ‘random audit’ and locked out for a week or so ??

  17. I’ve been checking out other PCR forums around the world, and there are just so many people who have no idea about the potential for disaster!!
    Open boasting of how many entries into various promotions, and sharing international links to the same promo etc. etc.
    there are no real obvious warnings not to over-indulge.
    Some forum members carry on with ‘its your own fault’ attitude, when asked for advice. I’ve had people tell me ‘don’t enter more than once’. If that’s the correct position – why isn’t PCR making it clear? Why are so many Americans able to get away with multiple entries, and the rest of the world gets ‘locked’ ???

  18. Account restored ( after a week ).
    ALL promo points removed from account – poor choice of words = “Good will Adjustment”.
    WORST PART = REMOVED RA STATUS !!!!

    No explanation ….

  19. Got my RA back today …
    No real explanation, but hey! I’m just glad to still be an RA …
    BE WARNED about entering PCR promos more than ONCE !!!

  20. I think that the only justification they would have for closing accounts, is if the terms and conditions of downloading the toolbar stated that a maximum of 300 points could be downloaded per customer.

    What would be to stop a single customer downloading the toolbar, say, 5x times to install on their own, their wifes and their three childrens computers?

    What if you reinstalled the OS on your PC and needed to download again?

    Unless the Ts&Cs were explicit about a ‘one-time only’ offer, I dont see the problem of taking advantage of this offer multiple (say 5 or 6 times) – taking advantage of it for a dozen or more times is morally dubious though!

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