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Air Miles cancels reward expiry policy

Last Updated Dec 1, 2016 at 5:25 pm PST

(Courtesy: Airmiles.ca)
Summary

Air Miles is cancelling its controversial expiry policy

Those air miles won't disappear after all

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – You don’t have to worry about spending your expiring Air Miles. The company behind the program has reversed an incoming policy which would’ve seen your miles become useless after five years.

LoyaltyOne, the company which runs Air Miles, cites uncertainty with provincial governments either filing or threatening to file lawsuits. LoyaltyOne also notes the negative feedback it has received.

The policy was announced about five years ago. LoyaltyOne warned collectors the first miles would expire December 31, 2016. The policy grabbed headlines again this year as people scrambled to redeem their miles in time.

Patrick Sojka is the founder of Rewards Canada, a website focused on consumer rewards programs. He says it takes a long time to save up enough for a flight. “They advertise these dream rewards that can take the average collector quite a few years to get to and for some people, that’s more than five years. That’s why this has really become such an issue. People, it’s not like they forgot about the Air Miles. They’ve been active in the program and they’re trying to get to a goal and Air Miles was going to stop them from reaching that goal.”

Sojka says the news still might not sit well with collectors who have spent their miles on something they weren’t as interested in.

Neera Garg from Vancouver is one of those collectors upset to learn her Air Miles aren’t going to expire after all. She just spent all she had. “Hearing there was an expiry, I felt stressed out because I spent so long and hard saving all these and I didn’t want to waste them. Just two days ago I finally settled on just booking a flight for me and a friend to go somewhere in July of next year. It wasn’t necessary, but just to use them.”

She says her father spent about 14,000 Air Miles recently on random things like speakers and gifts for the grandkids just to use them up. Garg believes Air Miles should do more than reverse the policy, something like a one-time bonus for collectors.

There is a class action lawsuit filed against LoyaltyOne over the expiry policy and the reversal won’t guarantee the suit will be dropped. Lawyer Andrew Wilson, a partner with JSS Barristers in Calgary, is representing class members. He says there are issues which need to be worked through. “What about people who have redeemed their miles for items that they didn’t want simply to try and avoid them expiring? People who had very long wait times and the frustration. And with that, people who thought they had ordered products and then were advised later in time that they weren’t available. People who weren’t seeing items that they wanted. Is that problem going to be addressed?”

Wilson says he will be consulting on next steps with class members.