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Last week I chronicled my efforts at trying to make a change to an existing LifeMiles award reservation both in this post and on Twitter. If you aren’t familiar, LifeMiles is a Star Alliance partner that can be used to award book flights operated by United, Lufthansa, Singapore, and other Star Alliance partners. The process to try to redeposit an award that my friends were no longer going to be able to use honestly took 4-6 hours of my time for a simple redeposit. Two of those hours were spent on just one phone call. It was insane and my own personal version of hell.
I had heard many warnings about dealing with LifeMiles if you need to make a change or cancel, but nothing could have prepared me for how badly I wanted to bash my head into the computer screen at times during the process. Okay, maybe just say bad words at the computer screen.
Part of the problem had to do with getting hung up on more times than I cared to count. Sometimes by a person and sometimes before I ever got to a person. I don’t know if these hang-ups were intentional, or just IT glitches, but the result was the same. I far preferred the hang-ups that happened right off the bat than the ones that happened 15-20 minutes into the call.
The other side of the problem came from some system within LifeMiles that was not working. I think the broken process was somehow related to processing credit card payments for the redeposit of the miles (a $50 fee per ticket) as that is where we would get hung up each time. It’s not that the credit card wouldn’t go through, it’s that they couldn’t even get it to try to go through.
A secondary problem was that sometimes I would be routed to agents that did not speak English, despite only selecting the options that should have pointed me to English speakers. Some of the recorded messages that prompted me to enter info were also in Spanish. That made things a bit harder, but wouldn’t have been a big deal if the main two problems hadn’t existed. I’m okay with some language slow downs since I am the one that really only speaks one language. I will add that most of the agents I spoke to were really nice, they just weren’t able to fix my problem.
How I Finally Got My Miles Back:
So after hours of round and round on the LifeMiles Call Center Merry-Go-Round of “Fun”, I started begging. When I got an agent on the phone I begged him to not hang up on me. At every turn I was overly appreciative of anything he tried to do to help and overly cautious when I was told I would be put on hold. The begging continued on my end throughout the two hour phone call. It must have worked as I wasn’t hung up on for two hours, but in the end the systems weren’t working to allow the transaction to complete. Of course I asked for the miles to be forced into my account regardless of the $50 fee, but that got nowhere. Asking for supervisor to help also got nowhere.
When he could do no more, he said he would take my number and have someone call me later that day to process the $50 payment another way. I was of course extremely skeptical this would happen, but had no real other option. Of course, I continued my begging that someone please actually call me back as I could not keep investing this much time in a simple transaction. It/I was pathetic.
Since I doubted my phone would ever ring with someone from LifeMiles on the other end, I emailed support at lifemiles.com with my problem and kinda begged them for help as well. I did the same on Twitter.
To my complete shock, I got responses from all three communication methods. Someone from LifeMiles called back the next day via a Florida phone number and was able to process the credit card transaction a different way. The miles were back within an hour after that. Shortly after I got a response from the support at lifemiles.com email address saying it looked like my problem had been resolved but to let them know if I needed further help.
I think a combination of explaining/begging all the hoops I had been through, getting an agent who wanted to make it work, and reaching out through multiple channels finally did the trick. The support email address is actually monitored, and they are also the ones who said that the taxes I paid on the cancelled ticket will get refunded, so use them for those issues as well.
Now the only little tiny problem left is that the LifeMiles website won’t let me book the awards I now need and the call center is having “system issues”. Yeah, really. I got the miles back, but now can’t secure the alternate flights that we need as the “system is down”. I think I’m having a deja vu moment…. I have learned from my own advice that hoping the call center can force something through will never happen so I won’t waste time going that route.
Seriously, don’t use LifeMiles unless you have the time and patience to deal with issues. I didn’t expect to have issues with these flights, but sometimes life happens and you can’t predict when plans will have to change. I really have neither time not excess patience for silly problems, so will think long and hard before going this route again in the future.