Air Miles, a Canadian based rewards program that many of us are accustomed to using at grocery stores and other commonly frequented check-outs. In case you weren’t aware, the company has been under fire for the better half of 2016 due to their exchange policy that seemed like the best kept secret. Essentially, in 2011 the company announced that an expiry policy would come into effect for unused points at the end of 2016. Anything wrong with this? Not at all. The problem many Canadians found was that for starters, there was no reminder when 2016 came around.
This is where things get tricky. Should Air Miles have done a better job with their marketing efforts and reminded the public about this deadline, or should it all rest on the individual? Due to CBC reporting the news in February, this was how many people found out that this expiry policy even existed in the first place. Now what do you do? Look at all the points you’ve accumulated and settle for mediocre items instead of the big vacation you’ve been saving up years for. If it ended here, it wouldn’t be so bad.
Here is where we get to the even greater issue. Air Miles hit the public with a “just kidding” (okay not really). The company announced last week that they would be getting rid of the expiring policy due to public outcry as well as a pending Ontario legislation that would ban expiry policies for reward programs. I mean, could you imagine having to waste your points on items that you didn’t really want in fear that they would disappear..just to learn that you could have kept your points. On top of this, not getting a refund on the items that you haven’t even received yet? Yikes.
@AlexBielak We are not accepting returns, cancellations, or exchanges due to the cancellation of the expiry policy, once booked.
— AIR MILES Canada (@AIRMILES) December 3, 2016
Quick disclaimer: I’ve never had an Air Miles card in my life.
I understand that technically Air Mile’s didn’t do anything wrong here. They told the public that this expiry would be happening years ago, and they followed through as best as they could until unforeseeable circumstances caused them to change their decision. However, from a branding point of view, do you really want to piss off such a high number of customers that have been loyal for decades? It seems as though Air Miles has taken the “don’t like it, too bad” stance, and it’s very unfortunate. Obviously, returning items and points to all outraged customers would not be ideal for Air Miles. However, this may be a situation where they need to bite the bullet.
There can be something said about the duty companies owe to their customers. Whether Air Miles meant to sweep things under the rug and not offer a reminder about their expiry policy or not is something we’ll never know the answer to. One thing to remember is this is simply a luxury and clearly not the end of the world. Depending on a loyalty program to fund your dream vacation for decades might not be the best course of action for next time.
What do you guys think? Should Air Miles offer up a real apology and attempt to fix this mess, or does it all lie on the consumers hands for simply not being more aware? Let us know in the comments section below, or give us a comment on our Facebook post!
Dakarai is an ambitious professional with a passion for advertising and marketing, and is currently employed as an account coordinator for an ad agency in Toronto. When he’s not at the office, he’s most likely trying out a new restaurant, browsing AdWeek, or binge watching something on Netflix. Dakarai, but you can call him Dak. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and connect with him on LinkedIn.