How'd you like to receive a year's upgrade to Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold, but find it actually lasts for just one day?
That's the bizarre situation Australian Business Traveller reader and Qantas Frequent Flyer member Rick Ramsey found himself in recently, when he received a letter from Qantas on March 30th, advising him he'd been granted gold status -- but that his gold status would expire the very next day, on March 31st.
The free upgrade was a gift to Rick from a family member who achieved Qantas 'Super Platinum' status by clocking up 2,100 status credits in a year. Such members get a gold companion membership to give away to a partner, friend or family member.
Rick's family member decided to give it to him and arranged that with Qantas.
So how did what you might reasonably expect to be a year-long upgrade in Qantas Frequent Flyer status end up lasting for one single day?
Australian Business Traveller raised Rick's issue with Qantas, expecting that the airline would quickly fix the mistake and make good on its marketing of the free gold companion membership offer.
Instead, a media spokeswoman took nearly two weeks to respond to the enquiry, and when she did, insisted the airline was in the right and that no mistake had been made.
Here's the catch: the spokeswoman revealed that free gold companion membership is matched to the annual renewal date of the person giving the membership, not the person receiving it. The person who gave the card to Rick had a membership renewal date of March 31st.
While the Qantas spokeswoman acknowledged she could see why Rick would think a one day membership upgrade was ridiculous, she said it would be far too complicated for the airline to track the membership cycle of a platinum member, and the separate membership cycle of their friend/family gold companion membership.
(This despite the fact that Qantas also manages to track the itineraries of millions passengers each year, and has dozens of aircraft in the air at any one time with complex customer service operations underway 24 hours a day, so you think managing complimentary membership upgrades wouldn't exactly be the most Herculean task.)
Bear in mind, too, that super platinums are Qantas' highest spending and most valuable customers.
To clock up the 2100 status credits necessary to gift a Gold membership they'd have to fly 210 economy-class flights between Sydney and Melbourne in a year, 60 economy class trips between Sydney and Shanghai, or nine business class flights between Sydney and London.
A considerable spend with the airline is involved, so you'd expect the airline would bend over backwards to look after these high-value customers.
Australian Business Traveller checked the Qantas Frequent Flyer website and could not find any mention of the free gold membership being limited to the length of the current member's platinum membership.
The Qantas' spokesperson did not respond to a request for further information on where Qantas makes this clear to members.
Rick and his family member now have the option of complaining to the Office of Fair Trading in his state, and the ACCC, both of which may be able to investigate whether Qantas is breaching the Australian Consumer Law -- the new legislation that covers 'bait-and-switch' marketing.
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Dan is a tech enthusiast who frequently qualifies for enhanced airport security screening due to the number of cords and gadgets stuffed into his cabin bag.