This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
One of the things I love most about being The Points Guy is getting to hear stories from readers about all the positive ways award travel has affected their lives. That being said, while I love hearing about your successes, I think there’s also a lot we can learn by sharing our mistakes, and I’m calling on readers to send in your most egregious and woeful travel failures.
From time to time I’ll pick one that catches my eye and post it for everybody to enjoy (and commiserate with). If you’re interested, email your story to email@example.com, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Include details of exactly how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Please offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what precautions the rest of us can take to avoid the same pitfalls. If we publish your story, I’ll send you a gift to help jump-start your next adventure (or make up for any blunders from the last one).
Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Steve, who missed out on a bonus haul of IHG points after deleting an important email. Here’s what he had to say:
After reading your post last year about IHG’s Priceless Surprises promotion, I thought it would be an excellent way to earn points to beef up my IHG Rewards account. Over the course of five weeks, I painstakingly filled out hand-written note cards with all the required information. I bought stamps and envelopes, making sure to address each one by hand, and mailed all of them in by the deadline.
I waited and waited and waited for a reply, but never received any points! After about two months I decided to email IHG, and to my chagrin, I was told that I had never even registered for the promotion in the first place! I’m fairly sure that I did register, because I remember getting an email confirmation, but unfortunately I didn’t save it! Without that email, there was no way for me to prove I had registered, so it was tough luck for me.
It still stings, but I learned a valuable lesson. To this day I save every email that shows I’m eligible and registered for a promotion, so I have that to fall back on in case there’s ever a question. I recommend other readers do the same!
If a dispute with a loyalty program or travel provider boils down to your word against their records, your chances of winning are slim. Any evidence you have that tells your side of the story will be a huge help in those cases, so Steve’s recommendation is a good one. You should save emails not only as proof of having registered for a promotion, but also to document things like reservations, amenities, or favorable rates and other terms. In cases that don’t involve an email confirmation — like a credit card sign-up bonus, for example — you can take a screenshot that captures all the relevant info to back up your claim.
On a related note, I encourage you not to back down too easily from such disputes. Steven may not have kept proof of his registration for Priceless Surprises, but that doesn’t mean he was in the wrong. That promotion wasn’t handled as well as it could have been, and many people had difficulty claiming their rewards. However, those who pressed IHG and HelloWorld (the fulfillment company for that campaign) were mostly successful, and eventually received their points. If you’re confident that you’ve fulfilled your end of a bargain, make sure the company hears you out before you take no for an answer.
I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. To thank Steve for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 Visa gift card to enjoy on his travels.
I’d like to do the same for you! If you’ve ever arrived at the airport without ID, booked a hotel room in the wrong city, missed out on a credit card sign-up bonus or made another memorable travel or rewards mistake, I want to hear about it. Please indulge me and the whole TPG team by sending us your own stories (see instructions above). I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!
Featured image courtesy of the InterContinental Toronto Yorkville.
Know before you go.
News and deals straight to your inbox every day.
With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards