Knowing The Rules

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Over the past couple of weeks I have had several people come to me with curious cases involving interactions where a person of authority/subject matter expert has been blatantly incorrect regarding a policy. I wanted to share these experiences as a reminder that we can’t always rely on company representatives to know the ever-changing rules regarding points/miles, status, or other programs in this hobby.

The 5/24 Trap

The first of these instances involves a friend of mine that applied for the Amazon credit card from Chase and was told by a customer service representative that the card was NOT subject to 5/24. She applied and was promptly rejected – due to being over 5/24. She called the reconsideration line and of course they reaffirmed the decision on the same basis and stated that the customer service representative had been wrong. It USED to be that the Amazon credit card was not subject to 5/24, but that has not been the case for quite a while. While this isn’t the biggest deal, had she done some searches online or posted on a forum, this information would have come out and she could have avoided an unnecessary inquiry.

Inhospitable Istanbul

Well, those rules seem pretty clear!

The second involves semi-frequent traveler friend of mine who recently messaged me stating that he had been turned away at the new Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles Lounge in Istanbul. While my friend was flying economy, he does hold Star Alliance Gold status. The agents kept telling him that he had to be flying in a premium cabin to access the lounge and his response was that he had always been granted access at the lounge at the old airport. While I chalk this up to being confusion on the part of the agent due to the being a new lounge at a new airport, it is still totally unacceptable. He and I got into a discussion about how I have come to prepare for a lot of these types of things and routinely screenshot or bookmark terms and conditions so that I can quickly diffuse or bypass these situations. I provided a link to the Turkish Airlines website showing that he does in fact have access.  Hopefully on his return flight back through Istanbul he will be granted entry as he is armed with the entrance policy.

Confusion at The Club

The Club at ATL Reception

Back in March I was flying home from Houston and had a stop in Atlanta. I had been chatting with a guy on the flight from HOU-ATL and as we both had layovers in ATL, I offered to bring him to The Club at ATL lounge as one of the 2 guests I am allowed using my Priority Pass card via my American Express Platinum. Upon arriving, we found a fairly quiet lounge with the usual friendly host at the front. I presented my card and the exchange went something like this:

Host: “Thank you so much, just so you are aware, there is a charge for guests.”

Me: “I am allowed 2 guests free of charge with Priority Pass Select, I have done that at this lounge before on several occasions.”

H: “Well, we do restrict access due to capacity issues and cannot always honor the guest allotment or even all Priority Pass members.”

M: “Yes, I understand all of that, but a) you didn’t say we couldn’t come in, you are saying there is a fee, and b) from what I can see there are no capacity issues at the moment. Is there a supervisor here, with whom I can speak so that I can understand what terms have changed on my card?”

At this point the host did something on her computer and looked up with a smile and said, “Oh, I see…there is no issue, please come in and enjoy yourselves!” I was somewhat baffled by this interaction as it wasn’t until the end that she actually scanned my card, so I am not sure from what sort of logic tree she was working. In the end, she was very friendly, and the result was at it should have been, but just took a while to get there.

Gift Card Gaffe

Just two weeks ago I stopped into an Office Depot/Office Max to purchase some gift cards (using my Ink Plus, of course for 5x) and was told at the checkout counter that I couldn’t use “that card” to pay for the gift cards and was told that I would need cash or debit. I pushed back hard on that and asked for a manager. Typically I don’t like to draw attention to gift card purchasing activity, but in this case, I had dealt with the manager several times and this store had been typically friendly to purchasing. The manager came up, recognized me and asked what the problem was. I explained and he said it wasn’t a problem and the cashier explained that he “thought I was using a gift card.” This was odd to me as the card is CLEARLY a credit card and he never mentioned to me that he thought I was trying to pay with a gift card.

Bottom Line

I truly don’t believe that any of these individuals were being malicious, but in each case they were all ignorant to the policies, or made incorrect assumptions without asking the right questions. The common theme here is to arm yourself with a solid understanding of what your rights are and how the various programs work. In Atlanta, I think most people would have paid the money or walked away because why would the person who WORKS at The Club be less informed of the policies than a visitor? The good news for my friend who attempted the Turkish lounge visit is that he will be flying back through in a week or so and now has the policies from the Turkish Airlines website to show if he gets pushback again. As always, use the resources available, and when in doubt phone a friend or post to the Credit Card 101 page for quick answers from those in the know!

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