Help! Alamo won’t remember my miles

roadA thousand frequent flier miles may seem like nothing, which is probably what the folks at Alamo were thinking when David Goeman repeatedly asked the car rental company for his missing award points.

But little things matter. Alamo shouldn’t have forgotten about Goeman’s miles, whether it was 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 of them. And he shouldn’t have had to keep asking.

Alas, he did. And when nothing seemed to work, he turned to me.

Here’s his story:

I rented a car from Alamo under a joint promotion with Northwest Airlines June 12-18, 2009 at the Sioux Falls SD airport (FSD).

I never got the 1,000 WorldPerk miles the promotion promised.

The Alamo customer care rep, with whom I’ve been dealing on the Alamo Web site, totally agrees that I should be awarded the 1,000 miles, and has continued to pursue it on my behalf … to no avail. Alamo is apparently ignoring their own customer care person.

There’s a “time” issue here. The Delta takeover of Northwest will include the incorporation of WorldPerks into the Delta SkyMiles program as of next month (October 2009), so, if Alamo ignores it for another two weeks there will no longer BE a WorldPerks program and it will become even more difficult to pursue.

Can you urge Alamo to fulfill their obligation – the recommendation of their own customer care agent – and get the darn 1,000 miles awarded to my WorldPerks account?

OK, three months is way too long to wait for a mileage credit. But is Alamo running down the clock? I’m not so sure about that. When Northwest’s program merges with Delta’s, there will probably be mechanisms in place to ensure miles aren’t lost. (If there aren’t, then we’re about to find out.)

Related story:   "I do not know where else to turn"

I find it odd that Alamo appeared to be ignoring the advice of its own customer service agent. Goeman could have made more of his requests in writing to create a paper trail (instead, he posted his requests to an online bulletin board) which might have accelerated the process.

I contacted Alamo on his behalf. A few days later, he received the following note from the company:

Good morning, your issue was sent to me for immediate handling and resolution. We have contacted NWA directly and your 1,000 miles will be added to your account within 3 business days. Thank you for bring the matter to our attention. I apologize for the trouble and effort made to resolve this issue and truly appreciate your business. Please feel free to contact me should have any future issues or concerns. Thank you Mr. Goeman and have a great day.

Problem solved? Yes — and no.

Goeman has his miles, but was all the time and effort he put into getting just $10 worth of frequent flier awards worth it? And, more importantly, were the miles worth it?

Please don’t get me started on the actual value of frequent flier miles. I’ve called them the crack cocaine of the travel industry in the past, and my position is unchanged.

Loyalty programs benefit the travel company, first and foremost.

Perhaps Alamo was doing Goeman a favor by stalling his mileage credit.

(Photo: mdpNY/Flickr Creative Commons)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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