My Allstate Rewards gift card didn’t work on my Princess cruise

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By Christopher Elliott

David Marsh’s Allstate Rewards gift card doesn’t work on his Princess cruise. Each side is blaming the other. Is there a way to make this right?

Question

We had $1,800 in prepaid gift cards on our Princess Cruise through Allstate Rewards. On the second day of our Princess cruise, my wife and I attempted to pay a portion of the bill with the gift cards, but the cruise line would only accept $800.

A Princess representative tried multiple times over most of the remainder of the 14-day cruise to identify and correct the problem. He determined that the vendor had not funded the cards and that my wife and I needed to contact Allstate Rewards directly.   

I called Allstate Rewards from the ship. An Allstate Rewards representative told me we needed to contact Princess guest services because “Princess Cruise Line is responsible for Princess gift cards.” Princess had told me the opposite — that Allstate was responsible.

Later in the cruise, I received an email from Allstate Rewards stating: “Due to the amount of time since your order was placed, we are no longer able to assist with your order.”

I’m flabbergasted. It’s clear that Princess needed to resolve the issue directly with Allstate Rewards. But they are refusing to help us. — David Marsh, Bonita Springs, Fla. 

Answer

Allstate Rewards should have fixed this before you left for your cruise. So what happened?

Allstate Rewards are given to drivers who participate in Allstate’s Drivewise program. It’s an app that monitors your driving habits and rewards you for driving the speed limit and making no sudden stops. Allstate uses the app to offer good driver discounts to its policyholders, but it also offers rewards like the cards you received.

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You must have been an excellent driver to have received all those rewards. So what went wrong? Blame it on the pandemic. Princess canceled your first cruise, which was scheduled for 2021. According to Allstate, you would have had an opportunity to correct the problem if you had filed a complaint in 2021, but the problem didn’t arise until 2022, when you rescheduled your cruise.

Could you have avoided this? Probably not. You might have called Allstate Rewards before your cruise to verify the balance, but you couldn’t have known there would be a problem.

It would have been great if someone at Princess or Allstate Rewards had taken ownership of this problem and fixed it for you. Instead, the companies blamed each other for the problem, which didn’t really help you. A brief, polite email to one of the managers might have helped. I list executive contacts for Princess Cruises and Allstate on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org.

I contacted Allstate on your behalf. A company representative called you and apologized for the nonworking cards. Allstate refunded you for the shipboard purchases that you had to pay for separately, since the gift card didn’t work.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in São Paulo.

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