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Lost All Rewards - Why no warning from Southwest?

SadSWFlyer
New Arrival

This is something I should have asked a long time ago, but since I just received a warning from another airline telling me what i needed to do to retain my rewards points, I figured I'd ask why SW didn't do that for me?

 

I used to fly SW a ton, and had earned a ton of rewards. I don't remember how many, but last I looked I think I had enough for 10-20 free flights. My business started taking me to locations SW did not fly, so I had not flown SW in a while.

 

My last rewards activity was on 6/24/2016. Then I used some of my miles for a flight in November 2017. Then this year I purchased about 10 SW tickets for an employee under his name.  Anyhow, at some point that prompted me to log into my account, and discover that every single reward point was gone.

 

What made me angry and stopped me from ever booking with SW again is not once did they send an email warning me my points were going to expire. I'm 100% positive because I use gmail and never delete a message. Seems to me they actually wanted them to expire. Again, my objection isn't that they expired, it's that they never warned me. Had they done so, I'd have done whatever was necessary to retain them.

 

Thanks for listening.

6 REPLIES 6
Highlighted

Re: Lost All Rewards - Why no warning from Southwest?

elijahbrantley
Rising Star
Solution

So sorry that happened!

 

SW’s policies about this are clear and well-documented online, but I respect that your frustration is in not being notified! If you would like to share that feedback directly with SW (this is a customerncommunity), I recommend sending them your feedback in a Tweet or via the Contact Us link below. 

 

I know now it won’t help you, but for others who might read this post, there are several methods for keeping your points alive here.

-A List Preferred, Companion Pass holder, Community Champion.

Re: Lost All Rewards - Why no warning from Southwest?

bec102896
Rising Star

Sorry to hear you didn't get any email about your points about to expire that would frustrate me as well if I lost points due to them expiring. 

 

Are you signed up to receive Southwest emails? If not that could be one reason you were not notified that your points were about to expire. Some people might accidentally unsubscribe so I would double check if you haven't received any other emails. 

 

I do know that they send out emails ahead of time though to those signed up for rapid rewards accoint emails. 

Re: Lost All Rewards - Why no warning from Southwest?

SadSWFlyer
New Arrival

Thanks Elijah, I may do that. Thanks Bec, I don't know about the email subscriptions but I do know I've received emails from other airlines I am not subscribed to marketing emails from - as it's considered "service related" and unsubscribe rules don't apply.

 

As an example, what reminded me to post about this today is I was blown away that American Airlines actually *called* (in addition to email) to remind me to make sure and buy some miles so my points don't disappear. Which of course I promptly did. A whole different level of service as far as I'm concerned.

 

Anyhow, I know there is nothing more that can be accomplished with this thread. Thanks again!

Re: Lost All Rewards - Why no warning from Southwest?

chgoflyer
Rising Star

@SadSWFlyer wrote:

This is something I should have asked a long time ago, but since I just received a warning from another airline telling me what i needed to do to retain my rewards points, I figured I'd ask why SW didn't do that for me?

 

I used to fly SW a ton, and had earned a ton of rewards. I don't remember how many, but last I looked I think I had enough for 10-20 free flights. My business started taking me to locations SW did not fly, so I had not flown SW in a while.

 

My last rewards activity was on 6/24/2016. Then I used some of my miles for a flight in November 2017. Then this year I purchased about 10 SW tickets for an employee under his name.  Anyhow, at some point that prompted me to log into my account, and discover that every single reward point was gone.

 

What made me angry and stopped me from ever booking with SW again is not once did they send an email warning me my points were going to expire. I'm 100% positive because I use gmail and never delete a message. Seems to me they actually wanted them to expire. Again, my objection isn't that they expired, it's that they never warned me. Had they done so, I'd have done whatever was necessary to retain them.

 

Thanks for listening.


 

Sorry this happened to you.

 

Unfortunately, Southwest isn't very transparent about the expiration of points. In fact, Southwest's advertising would lead one to believe that "Points don't expire." There is, however, an asterisk after that statement that does explain that points expire after 24 months with no point earning activity.

 

Which basically amounts to saying "Points don't expire oh wait nevermind yes they do." I've always found this to be misleading, and I've frequently noted that Southwest used to be above this type of thing.

 

That said, it is clear if you do look at the terms and conditions. Which is something everyone should do for everything these days.

 

As to notification, Southwest claims they send out an email prior to expiration of the points, but people frequently complain that they've never received any such email. I've always thought that, in these cases it may be that the account is linked to an older email address that's no longer used. If you've verified that the email address in your Rapid Rewards account is current, I'm not sure why you would not have received the message.

 

Why Southwest doesn't send out more notifications prior to point expiration, similar to the way other carriers do (many seem to send out tons, including things like magazine subscription redemption offers), your guess is as good as mine. But it's probably worth noting that the direction that took away agent's discretion when dealing with upset customers following forfeited points is said to have come directly from upper management.

 

Unfortunately, at this point your points are gone. And Southwest does not reinstate forfeited points except in very special circumstances. If you have had point earning activity within the last 6 months that was not credited to your account, and can show that, they may consider reinstating your points. But that's about the only way I know of.

 

Sorry.

 

Re: Lost All Rewards - Why no warning from Southwest?

DancingDavidE
Top Contributer

@SadSWFlyer wrote:

 

What made me angry and stopped me from ever booking with SW again is not once did they send an email warning me my points were going to expire. I'm 100% positive because I use gmail and never delete a message. Seems to me they actually wanted them to expire. Again, my objection isn't that they expired, it's that they never warned me. Had they done so, I'd have done whatever was necessary to retain them.

 


They are definiely balancing several factors:

 

  1. They've shown that they want people to earn and use rewards - I was just reading a Points Guy article yesterday and the industry in general has a lot of movement towards "any seat is a reward seat" which Southwest was a pioneer of. This feeds the business model to have happy repeat customers.
  2. I"m not an accountant, but there is some issue/liability for Southwest to have people carrying huge amounts of points to be redeemed in the future. However this manifests itself, it seems to be tolerated during periods of constant earning, but that attitude is obviously curtailed by the terms if no activity takes place in 24 months that the points are voided. 
  3. Are they "happy" to void the points? I don't think so exactly, they would have rather had you flying regularly. But if that wasn't possible, then it does seem to be the second choice over a third option to keep the points forever.

We hear a few people like yourself here on the forum with big stockpiles that are lost, but I expect that the majority of points that expire in this way are people that were irregular passengers and maybe had enough for a flight that was never redeemed. 

 

Personally I would use some big data to at least find out if the account holders were still active flyers to woo them back or find out why they weren't staying active, maybe someone like yourself could / could have been a customer again.

 

I hope that if your flight habits change in the future that you can consider Southwest again when they make sense.

 

 

 

 

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.

Re: Lost All Rewards - Why no warning from Southwest?

chgoflyer
Rising Star

I think all airlines would very much prefer that loyalty programs didn't exist in the first place. Smiley Wink

 

It would certainly reduce accounting complexity and lead to greater pricing transperency. But that's the model they've created, and has become the industry standard. And while management ensures their loyalty program represents a significant asset to the company (primarily through revenue generation from point/mile sales to credit card-issuing banks), it's clear by the consistent redemption devaluations of these programs that all carriers are trying to reduce the drain on profitability they represent. Southwest is no different.

 

With regards to the liability miles/points represent on a carrier's financials, it's way more complicated than you may think. Here's a great reference:

 

Are frequent flyer miles a liability for FFPs?

 

While different carriers account for their programs differently, it's worth noting that Delta's miles never expire.

 

I don't think it's necessarily inappropriate for Southwest to expire points, and I think 24 months is a reasonable timeframe. I do however find advertising language that specificallys says, "Points don't expire" to be hugely misleading. And I do think Southwest should make greater efforts to warn customers in advance of upcoming expiration. From a customer satisfaction viewpoint there's no reason not to. They are either screwing up and missing an important customer retention opportunity, or -- if they are actively choosing not to do so -- have made a management decision that the monetary benefit of the breakage outweights that value.