2011 Best of & Worst of: Worst Promos of the Year!

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This 2011 Best of and Worst of series has been pretty fun.  I think 2011 has been pretty freaking exciting on the miles and points front.  We have reviewed some of the “Best of” categories including:

Best Airline Promo of 2011

Best Hotel Promo of 2011

Best Credit Card Promo of 2011

Now it is time for the “Worst of’s” post.  I am by nature a pretty positive person, so while I absolutely want to review the worst promos of the year, I don’t really want to do a separate post for each category.  So, let’s lump all the bad points and miles promos into this one post.  It doesn’t matter if it was a hotel promo, credit card promo, airline promo, etc… just share all the dirty failed details here.

For me the two worst promos of 2011 were the United Months of Miles fiasco – which is actually still going on months later for many people.  The rules changed more than once shortly into the game, then United didn’t want to honor miles earned under the previous terms, then they honored some of the miles earned under the previous terms, then many of the purchases made through the United shopping portal weren’t showing up, and now we are all just sitting around waiting for the 8-10 weeks to pass so we can hopefully get the miles that we earned.  Yay for miles, but boo for the way this promo was handled.

The other worst promo of the year for me was the Amex “Bump the Bonus” mess from late this summer.  It all started out wonderfully, and I know many people did extremely well with the bump the bonuses, but I got burned a bit.  Like many other people, I called in and was told my Amex was eligible for the 10,000 Membership Reward points per authorized user bonus.  Otherwise known as the infamous Bonus Code 5721.  I paid $175 to add three family members to my Amex Platinum, made purchases with each card, and waited for the bonus points.  Of course they didn’t show up despite spending money to add the users and making the purchases.  I secure messaged, tweeted, called, called the Executive Line, etc… and was told “no dice”.  If they would have said I wasn’t eligible up front it would have been no big deal, but spending money to add users because I was told I was eligible, and then not having the promo honored was a big thumbs down.   In the end, I made the best of it by having the authorized users use some of the benefits they got such as: $100 Global Entry fee refunded, Small Business Saturday, etc… so I still have love for Amex, but that fiasco stunk.

All right there are my “worst of” stories, which promos do you not wish to see return in 2012?

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  1. Agree with both of those and got similarly burned! Amex, if you have CSRs telling people they can get a bonus over the phone with a certain amount of spend, you should honor it. And United Months of Miles was just an object lesson in how not to handle a promotion!

  2. Yawn… Amex bump promo handed out millions of points to people (like myself) who had no right to get them. It was likely promo of the year! This is just sad sour grapes

  3. any promo in an airline shopping mall run by Catera.
    Including months of miles for UA mall, the 87K palm charger in the AA mall, and I think they screwed up some in the DL mall as well…..stay away from Catera run shopping malls and their bad promos

  4. I have to agree that the Amex 5721 promo was the most disappointing this year. But all those AUs paid off big in the end with Small Business Saturday and then the gift chain. I cleared over $15,000 in gift chain prizes by using each AU card to buy a $25 Pottery Barn card 10 times. So, what started out terrible turned out to be the best promo ever.

  5. MP, I agree. UA’s Month of Miles program was a true train wreck. My son got the 1,000 bonus for 2 transactions, so we did a couple of transactions to test the waters. They took forever to post and still haven’t given us the bonus miles. Though I’m about to hit a million lifetime miles on UA, I will not participate in any more of their miles shopping promotions.

  6. This stretches the definition a bit, but Chase finally called it quits on the Continental OnePass checking account (which offered 25k points to sign up, without a hard pull) after years of running the promotion.

  7. Months of Miles was an epic failure in so many ways!

    1) Received the postcard in snail mail but told by United “not targeted”.
    2) Is dining subject to $10 limit? yes. no. yes. no. maybe. up until Sep 9th, yes. Clear?
    3) “Best of all, there is no limit” became “limited to 25k”.
    4) One word: Cartera. In more words, some stuff posts, other stuff does not, and communication is subpar.

    We earned probably 80K miles but it left us with a bad feeling toward United.

  8. .
    Reposting from Best thread . . .
    For worst Hotel offer, I would have to go with the Best Western Facebook Wheel of Misfortune promo. My wife and I both signed up for Best Western Rewards, spun the wheel and got . . . 100 points!! Whooo hoooo! I got an additional 100 points for referring her.
    So, if we were to pool our points, assuming that you can, we are only 6200 points away from a $25 Applebee’s Gift Card!!
    After they figured out “Hey, by giving lots of people the minimum award we didn’t even give away all of the points!” they reopened it but I missed out on rounding us off to an even 500.
    Will we ever use Best Western? No. At least give away enough for people to get something out of it. FAIL.

  9. .
    Reposting from other Best thread . . .
    Worst Credit Card promo:
    American Express promising to match offers and then reneging. I was fortunate in that all of my bumps came through and were honored but a lot of people got screwed. I have no problem with AmEx declining to match an offer you don’t qualify for but to promise the points and not deliver after people made a lot of transactions or spend is inexcusable, especially from a company like AmEx. I ended up canceling 5 of our AmEx cards in disgust. So long MR account.

  10. Between my wife and I we have about 12 Amex or Amex co-branded accounts, each with a handful of AUs. it came out to about 70 registered cards. I used each card to purchase 10 $25 gift cards (almost exclusively from Pottery Barn which had no ShopRunner prize). I can sell the gift cards at 81% and I figure the statement credit bonuses I won roughly cover my loss. Everything else I won was profit. I figure I made about $200 for every 10 transactions in gift cards to Pottery Barn (again, selling at 81%), Amex, and Starbucks.

    I did win the big prize of 4x $500 Amex gift cards that I shared with myself on facebook.

    I think a lot of people were doing this system, but no one really paid any attention to Pottery Barn for some reason. I checked with the gurus at @askamex on twitter to make sure everything was legit. About $5,000 in prizes have already been received.

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