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In case you missed the beginning of this story, my mom referred several Mommy Points’ readers for the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card offer back when the public offer was only 15,000 points, and the only way you could get 25,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up and meeting the spending requirement was via a referral from a current card member. (Though you can now get that bonus on the Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card card without a referral) I don’t have the exact number of persons she referred handy right now, but it was a few dozen. It was a win-win situation since she was able to refer people for a higher bonus than was publicly available, and in return she was to receive some bonus points herself. She was supposed to receive 10,000 Membership Reward points per approved referral when someone used her link – up to 50,000 points. She was more than happy to provide referrals far after she had maxed out the number of points she could receive, but figured she would probably come out of the deal with the maximum of 50,000 points since there were several readers who did follow up and say that they were approved using her links.
The requisite 6-8 weeks passed and no bonus points posted, so she sent a secure message to inquire. She was told they would open an “investigation”. We have never had luck with a Membership Rewards investigation, so we weren’t holding our breath for the outcome. About two weeks later she got a letter saying that there was no record of her being solicited for that offer. Not only had the offer been advertized to her when she logged onto her account, she had received a post card in the mail telling her of the offer (which we still had), and she provided the bonus code attached to the offer. Didn’t matter. They said they had no record of her account being eligible.
After hitting that dead-end, she then wrote a letter to the Executive Offices of American Express. In that letter she included a list of all the referrals she made, the dates, the names, email addresses, etc. A couple weeks went by and she got a phone call from a man who worked in the Executive Offices that she describes as “very nice and professional”. They looked into the matter and came to the conclusion that only one person had actually been approved using her links, so they awarded her the 10,000 points they said she was owed, plus 7,500 Goodwill points for her trouble. She was happy to be treated nicely on the phone by someone who seemed to listen, and to at least walk away with something. In her shoes I would probably have felt the same way at this point (in fact I know that is how I would feel since I am still awaiting a response for a similar letter on regarding my own account that I sent about 10 days ago). However, there are several problems that I see with this outcome.
First, if they determined she was in fact responsible for one referral that happened three or four months ago, then why didn’t she automatically receive credit for that referral? I’m not an IT expert, but I would assume there is a fix for that problem if the referrals are not being appropriately tracked by some software. Second, I find it extremely unlikely that only one person eventually was approved using her links. Due to confidentiality issues, there is no way to know how many were approved for sure, but I find one pretty unlikely. These points are not “make or break” one way or another for my mom. Like I said, she is happy to have received something. However, what is concerning is that she is by no means an isolated case with referral bonus points not posting correctly. In today’s miles and points world where we are seeing some sign-up bonuses decline, and cards being harder to “churn”, getting points by referring others is a viable option for adding to your yearly points totals…if they pay out as intended. I have seen recent comments on Flyertalk, Milepoint, and this blog, all reporting similar problems. Of course, some people get lucky and do have their points post without incident, but many seem to have trouble.
Having been through this with both my mom, and my own account, my best advice is to keep good records of who you refer and when. Obviously, if you have a relationship with the person in the “real world”, it will be easier to truly know whether they were approved using your link. It will also be easier to provide identifying info such as addresses. I recommend that you keep the emails that (usually) automatically come back to you from Amex when you refer someone. Then, cross your fingers that the bonuses will post as intended, but be ready to follow-up in writing if they don’t. You can try secure messages and phone calls to Membership Rewards first, but I have found that letters may work better in this case, especially if you referred more than one or two people.
I love the concept of getting points for referring people to the Amex products that you have, but I sure do wish the execution was better. What has your experience been with referring others to various Amex cards?
Disclosure: I do receive a commission if you are approved for the Amex PRG card using my link…..well, at least in theory. 😉 Kidding, kidding. Seriously though, your support is always appreciated.