Last night literally just as I was beginning to work on a detailed post on how to really maximize the RealtyTrac British Airway promotion that The Point Guy laid out last week, TPG provided an update from RealtyTrac’s CEO who said that this in fact was not an authorized deal. Unfortunately, all accounts created through the promotion are going to be closed and credit cards will NOT be charged. (Personally I think he really just saved us all the hassle of doing that exact same task in 7 days haha)
It seems to be a trend recently that when lucrative shopping promotions come up on these Mileage Malls and then go viral, all of the sudden either the Retailer or the Company that operates the Mileage Mall claims that someone went “rogue” and that the offer was never authorized.
Most people are under the assumption that when they click thru from an Airline’s Online Shopping Mall, that the Mall is actually run by the Airline. Unfortunately, that is not the case and almost all of these Mileage Malls are run by 3rd parties which Gary from View From The Wing talked about this in great detail.
These 3rd party Mileage Mall arrangements essentially allow the Airlines and the Operators of the Mileage Malls to defer responsibilities to the other Party when errors happen.
In my opinion, mistake offers on Mileage Malls are very similar to mistake fares made by Airlines. It all depends on the degree of the mistake.
If a mistake fare for a First Class International ticket is only $250, more than likely it was a mistake. If a mistake fare for an International First Class ticket is $2,000, the line gets blurry. While most Mileage Junkies would know it is a “mistake”, the average person would probably think that is the actual price.
Last year there was a huge American Airlines & Verizon fiasco where AA’s Mileage Mall was selling Palm Phone re-chargers that looked like hockey pucks for $5 with a mileage bonus of almost 83,000 miles. Obviously this was a mistake, but since you never know if they might honor it, I jumped in for 2 “hockey pucks” at a total cost of $10.
In the thread on Milepoint, someone said they bought $5,000 worth of these “hockey pucks” and honestly thought they were going to get 83 million miles from AA. Ultimately, the offer was in fact an mistake, and Cartera (who is the 3rd party that runs AA’s mileage mall) instead offered to refund all the Customer’s money and offered 2,500 AA miles as goodwill. Additionally they offered an extra 2,500 AA miles if you made another purchase thru the AA mall. I took them up on that offer and bought a single 99 cent song in iTunes and got 2,500 miles! In the end, I thought the resolution they reached for their Mileage Mall mistake was fair and reasonable.
Now for this deal with RealtyTrac, I 100% think the deal should be honored because to a normal shopper the original offer was not blatantly a mistake. Getting 100,000 miles for $5 is obviously a mistake. However in this case, I find it extremely hard to see how getting 3,000 miles for giving your credit card number to an extremely sketchy site, where they could possibly charge you $50 a month if you forget to cancel within 7 days, is a “mistake”. If this deal had not gone viral and some unsuspecting user had signed up and paid the $50 monthly fee, I doubt they would have canceled all the accounts and said sorry the 3,000 mile bonus was actually a mistake!
I certainly hope that British Airways and the 3rd party that operates their Mileage Mall ultimately honors the original deal because it really erodes the trust that customers have in the entire system, not to mention makes me re-write an entire new post! ; )
Now for my original post:
Prior to finding out the RealtyTrac deal was closed, the post that I was originally working on was showcasing how to maximize this promotion by using British Airway’s nifty Family Accounts feature. If you aren’t familiar with these Family Accounts, essentially British Airways give you the ability to make a free Family Account which lets you to pool all your family’s miles in one big pot. It is really helpful if you travel as a family, because you can collect miles for all your kids and then pool them all together for an award.
I personally already had a Family Account for my Family, so yesterday I signed up all my Family Members’ accounts up for the RealtyTrac promotion using their British Airway accounts and different credit cards. If the offer is honored, I should net a cool 12,000 Avios miles for 30 minutes of work and $0 out of pocket expenses.
If you didn’t already have a Family Account with British Airways, hypothetically you could have created a “family” account for your various “family members” using different email addresses and credit cards and potentially scored quite a few miles.
However the Travel Gods, as I call them, had different plans.
Ultimately this RealtyTrac mess is just another great example of the old saying, Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV).
From my couple years of collecting miles and partaking in these mistake offers, it is 100% true that Your Mileage May Vary. I’ve definitely been on both sides of the coin where I’ve won big on these types of deals and lost big. However the one thing that I have found to be true is that the people who are most successful in collecting miles are the ones that never stop trying regardless of how ludicrous a deal sounds!
Did you get in on this RealtyTrac deal? Do you think they are going to honor it?