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The Net Takeaway: Just how is this a reward?


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Just how is this a reward? · 10/13/2007 01:07 PM, Marketing

USAir recently sent many of its USAir Dividend Miles users an email letting us know about their new policy. Here is the text:

Important Notice

Don’t lose your Dividend Miles

Dividend Miles #: xxxxxxx
Mileage balance: xx,xxx
Your last activity date: 06-13-2006


US Airways introduced a policy last year that rewards our customers for staying active in the Dividend Miles program. In order to keep your account active, you must earn or redeem miles within a consecutive 18-month period.

Our records indicate that you have been inactive since 06-13-2006. We want to make sure you keep the miles you’ve earned. To keep your account active and hang on to your miles, you have several options:

* Contact Dividend Miles at 800-428-4322 and pay a $25 preservation fee with your credit card. * Earn miles by flying on US Airways or any of our airline partners. * Sign up and earn miles with one of our credit or debit cards. * Use any of our other partners for everyday activities such as dining out, sending flowers and more. * Redeem your miles. * Shop with over 100 premium retailers for name-brand merchandise at the Dividend Miles Shopping Mall, where you can reactivate your account for as little as 99 cents.

Take advantage of any of these options by 12-31-2007 and your account will remain active for another 18 months.


To be clear, if you were rewarding me for staying active, then you would be giving me bonus miles, more than the usual, for being active (say we defined active as 1 flight every 3 months). What you’ve described here is actually a punishment for staying inactive.

And these options aren’t all that palatable. Almost all of them involve cash. If I were to actually use some of the miles, that wouldn’t actually change the expiration date for the rest. And that “99 cents” they mention? Couldn’t find what any merchant was offering for 99 cents. Yep, this just feels more rewarding every second.

So, note to copywriters: Air travel already sucks. Trying to make yet another punishment look like a reward is not wise. Note to marketing managers: reward programs need more than just give and take of rewards; you need to make it part of the experience. I have many miles on your books, but I don’t fly you any more. Is this the way to win me back?

Lots more commentary at the Consumerist:US Airways Rewards Customers By Threatening To Charge Them $25 For Inactivity.

* * *


  1. I too searched for the 99 cent item and finally found it. You can pay 99 cents to download an itune. I don’t even have an ipod, but this seems like the cheapest way to me. Even if I found a cheap item to purchase, there’s still the added shipping costs, so I’m just going to go for it.

    Summer    Jun 4, 08:14 PM    #

  2. Cool site.

    Pat Williams    Mar 25, 03:03 AM    #

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