Air Miles cancelled its controversial expiry policy, effective immediately, after facing months of overwhelming pressure from its collectors, media, government regulation, plus a potential class action lawsuit. The policy would have seen unused reward miles earned prior to December 31st, 2011 expire as of the end of 2016.
“We have made the decision to cancel the expiry policy for all Collectors effective immediately. There is uncertainty with provincial governments proposing or considering legislation across Canada so we have decided to cancel the expiry policy so that all Collectors, regardless of location, can be confident that their balances will be protected,” said Bryan Pearson, President and CEO, LoyaltyOne.
The Ontario government is set to vote Monday on a bill that looks to establish fair regulation of loyalty points programs in Ontario. Under the proposed amendment to the Consumer Protection Act, any rewards points that expire on or after October 1, 2016 under a consumer agreement will be credited back to the consumer.
Up until today, Air Miles remained defiant and said it would not back down from its expiry policy. The loyalty company made it incredibly difficult for customers to redeem their miles, with a buggy website and under-staffed call centre not keeping up overwhelming consumer demand. But the private members bill proposed by MPP Arthur Potts moved quickly through legislation and the pending vote seems to have enough support to pass. Other provinces would almost certainly follow suit, which is what happened with gift card expiry nearly a decade ago.
So Air Miles got out in front of this news by cancelling the expiry policy immediately – just 30 days before it was to take effect.
LoyaltyOne said “it believes that cancelling the expiry policy will lead to more meaningful conversations between government and industry, helping to ensure loyalty programs remain viable in all provinces and that Canadian consumers continue to reap the rewards of loyalty programs, regardless of the province in which they live.”
Related: Let’s Recap This Air Miles Fiasco
While the cancelled expiry policy is a great win for collectors who stood to lose thousands of reward miles, the news is of little solace for those who scrambled to redeem their reward miles and may have wasted their points on useless merchandise, unplanned trips, or other items they didn’t need. Think of all those unwanted blenders and toasters!
I had a personal feeling of satisfaction upon hearing today that Air Miles cancelled its expiry policy. I’ve spent a good chunk of time over the past six months writing about this issue and being interviewed on CBC radio and television. Hundreds of readers have emailed me and commented on my articles expressing their anger, frustration, and disappointment over Air Miles and how they’ve handled this entire issue.
Incredibly, the loyalty company waited until the eleventh hour to do the right thing for its collectors. I’m just not sure it’s enough to repair their tarnished reputation.