Air Miles cancelled its controversial expiry policy, effective immediately, after facing months of overwhelming pressure from its collectors, media, government regulation, plus a potential class action lawsuit. The policy would have seen unused reward miles earned prior to December 31st, 2011 expire as of the end of 2016.
“We have made the decision to cancel the expiry policy for all Collectors effective immediately. There is uncertainty with provincial governments proposing or considering legislation across Canada so we have decided to cancel the expiry policy so that all Collectors, regardless of location, can be confident that their balances will be protected,” said Bryan Pearson, President and CEO, LoyaltyOne.
The Ontario government is set to vote Monday on a bill that looks to establish fair regulation of loyalty points programs in Ontario. Under the proposed amendment to the Consumer Protection Act, any rewards points that expire on or after October 1, 2016 under a consumer agreement will be credited back to the consumer.
Up until today, Air Miles remained defiant and said it would not back down from its expiry policy. The loyalty company made it incredibly difficult for customers to redeem their miles, with a buggy website and under-staffed call centre not keeping up overwhelming consumer demand. But the private members bill proposed by MPP Arthur Potts moved quickly through legislation and the pending vote seems to have enough support to pass. Other provinces would almost certainly follow suit, which is what happened with gift card expiry nearly a decade ago.
So Air Miles got out in front of this news by cancelling the expiry policy immediately – just 30 days before it was to take effect.
LoyaltyOne said “it believes that cancelling the expiry policy will lead to more meaningful conversations between government and industry, helping to ensure loyalty programs remain viable in all provinces and that Canadian consumers continue to reap the rewards of loyalty programs, regardless of the province in which they live.”
Related: Let’s Recap This Air Miles Fiasco
While the cancelled expiry policy is a great win for collectors who stood to lose thousands of reward miles, the news is of little solace for those who scrambled to redeem their reward miles and may have wasted their points on useless merchandise, unplanned trips, or other items they didn’t need. Think of all those unwanted blenders and toasters!
I had a personal feeling of satisfaction upon hearing today that Air Miles cancelled its expiry policy. I’ve spent a good chunk of time over the past six months writing about this issue and being interviewed on CBC radio and television. Hundreds of readers have emailed me and commented on my articles expressing their anger, frustration, and disappointment over Air Miles and how they’ve handled this entire issue.
Incredibly, the loyalty company waited until the eleventh hour to do the right thing for its collectors. I’m just not sure it’s enough to repair their tarnished reputation.
It used to be that the only way to book and redeem travel points with your phone was to dial a call centre and wait for an agent to help. But technology has come a long way and is helping to shape rewards programs by giving consumers unprecedented access to track their points as well as to earn and redeem them. Today you can access your rewards program via mobile app, meaning the afternoons once spent booking travel over the phone, navigating or tracking your points on a paper statement will soon be a thing of the past.
Indeed, why settle for an out-dated statement of your points balance when you can watch your points accumulate, browse all the cool stuff you can redeem your points for, keep track of how much you need for that next dream vacation and even pay with points, all in one seamless and convenient experience? Consumers want to track reward points, shop, and book travel all from their mobile device.
Last month RBC launched its new RBC Rewards app for iOS and Android devices. RBC Rewards, along with its flagship Avion program, has long been a favourite here at Rewards Cards Canada, so I was excited to get the opportunity to test-drive the new RBC Rewards app. Here’s how it works:
Clients can search and book flights, hotels and car rentals, using a combination of points and cash. They can also browse and redeem points at Apple, Best Buy and for RBC Rewards merchandise.
Within the app, clients will find a full mobile shopping experience where they can favourite items within the various catalogue and save travel searches, get relevant offers and merchandise based on interests, and check out with a single cart.
One of the most useful features I found with the RBC Rewards app is the ability see any pending points activity for the past week, including the number of pending points you may be earning with each purchase.
You can also view your points history, how many points you’ve earned in a month, transaction history, as well as for what you’ve redeemed.
We’re in an era now where customers are looking for a customized and flexible rewards experience that allows them to view all of their activity, search for and book flights and hotels, and use their rewards points to book and pay for travel all in a seamless environment.
The RBC Rewards app appears to be designed with all of this in mind – giving clients the ability to manage their entire rewards program, from earning to redemption, all on their smart phone. You can download the app today in the App Store or Google Play.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of RBC. All opinions are my own.