5 things to know about the Air Miles lawsuit

Can you get in on it?

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Having trouble redeeming your Air Miles, or feel like there are rewards being kept from you? Well, you’re not alone. This week, JSS Barristers, a Calgary law firm, filed a class action lawsuit against LoyaltyOne, the company that owns and operates the Air Miles rewards program in Canada. We spoke with Andrew Wilson, lead counsel for the lawsuit, and learned some things you need to now if you’re one of the 10 million households in Canada that has an Air Miles card.

1. You don’t have to do anything to join

A class action lawsuit is filed collectively by a large number of people who express the same legal complaint against the same defendant (in this case, Air Miles). The lawsuit was filed at at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta on behalf of all Canadian Air Miles members who had “Dream” reward miles on or after Dec. 28, 2011. In Alberta (where the action is being brought forward), all Air Miles holders are automatically in the suit. “You’d have to opt out if you didn’t want to be included,” says Wilson. Wilson believes it’s likely that the Alberta Court will apply the suit to every province and territory, meaning Air Miles users Canada-wide may get a piece of the pie.

2. Don’t get too excited

A judge has to formally certify the suit as a class action lawsuit before any further action can take place—something that generally takes one to two years, so don’t hold your breath.

3. Don’t expect millions 

The ultimate stake in dollar terms for class action suit participants isn’t huge. In fact, most class members have miles/rewards valued at between $200 and $10,000 or so. Still, both parties in the suit will have to agree on the process. “More than 90% of these cases end up resolving in mediation and the damages can be quite creative—goods, cash, or a mix of cash and goods,” says Jay Strosberg, a Windsor-based class action suit lawyer with Sutts, Strosberg LLP. “Or, if Air Miles are reinstated, there could be damages in dollar terms for customer aggravation, waste of time, etc. It’s too early to tell.”

4. Keep monitoring

Air Miles card holders can monitor the proceedings of the suit in the news. At some point there may also be a website set up where Air Miles members can go to check up on how the case is proceeding. “If there’s a resolution to the case, there will be a notice sent to each holder,” says Wilson.

5. Sit back and wait

In the best case scenario, Wilson says the case could take three to four years to resolve—in the worst case, seven to eight years. Still, if you feel you have a unique story to tell about your own Air Miles struggle, then contact JSS Barristers in Calgary. They’d like to hear it. The lesson in all this? “These loyalty programs have to be more vigilant in bringing up these major program changes to customers,” says Strosberg, who says he was aware of the five-year Air Miles deadline as soon as it was announced. This summer he cashed in his own miles for a $500 red KitchenAid mixer that showed up at his doorstep six weeks later. “I got my good, so I’m happy. And my wife is thrilled. So I’m not sure this will be the most sympathetic case. After all, it’s not like you invested in stock shares and lost a lot of money. But in general, companies need to be more proactive. Communication is key when changes are made so companies don’t get into these messes in the first place.”

Still, if you still have Air Miles expiring December of this year, it’s in your best interest to redeem them before the deadline. Here are steps to take now.

 

26 comments on “5 things to know about the Air Miles lawsuit

  1. The rip off is that they won’t allow conversion of existing Dream points to Cash rewards. So, any Dream rewards you have are null and void as of Jan 2017. I have 453 dream rewards which gets me nothing on the AM site. My 80 yr old mother in law has 1400 but there is nothing that she can afford to get that she actually wants. We wanted to convert her points and mine to cash rewards but can’t so we are stuck in limbo.

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    • I agree you used to be able to get tickets to things you could use locally, like movie tickets etc. Now I have gone in, and there is really nothing I can use my points on except to buy something I don’t want for points, but also have to pay cash, which is usually only about 50 bucks off the regular selling price of that item anyway, so I can’t really just use my points they want my own cash too? What is up with that? Definite Scam on the part of Air Miles and their Loyalty program. I most certainly want in on this class action lawsuit.

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  2. I am in the same position as the other parties caught up in this air-miles situation. The shops which were available for the acquisition/redeem the air miles are no longer participants in their program and this makes it difficult to redeem the miles. It is all to the benefit of the Company handling this air miles problem and it is not for the benefit of the people who has spent years gathering these miles so as to be able to go somewhere or buy something with them. I would like to be a part of the Class Action Suit.

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  3. If it only gives them a lesson, it will be worth it – I only have a few hundred points and it used to be you could get Cineplex tickets but now everything is much higher than the points I got – and those who have thousands of points are barred from using them – looks like a good scam to me

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  4. I saved miles for over 20 years to get 2 tickets to Australia, which was clearly one of the offerings. The miles were to expire, I had enough miles, so I tried to book it. Air Miles will not provide any tickets to Australia. They were not honest about what was available.

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    • I had something similar happen! Suddenly, the trip I wanted to take that had flights available a few weeks back, doesn’t have *any* flights available now. On any dates. Ever. Such a scam.

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  5. I have about 80,000 air miles, 50,000 of which will expire in December. I think that the Bank of Montreal should be added as a defendant in the suit as they actively promote Air Miles, and are continuing to do so with no warning as to cancellation.

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    • The trinkets and trash offered by the air miles rewards are too narrow in focus, they have loyalty with companies that offer air miles so why not have gift cards for those companies?

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    • I don’t have as much as you but have close to 17,000…absolute garbage on redemption site.. Just found out about this last week. Their rep maintains they are not taking miles away, just encouraging using same, but they are taking them away. They rec’d. $ from sponsors and they are just pocketing the $…I think the sponsors should be responsible as well I believe this is all tantamount to theft…they should be tarred and feathered and run out of town.

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    • Robin Manton, I completely agree with you that the Bank of Montreal should also be named as a defendant. As of this morning, their website is, get this, “rewarding” any new customers with 800 Air Miles. You can’t get more actively “rewarding” new customers than that!
      Also, AIR MILES collectors should be aware that if you have a Bank of Montreal Air Miles card, the cost is currently $99.00 annually. If holders of that card want to send a message to the Bank of Montreal, consider advising that you will not renew the card due to the Air Miles cancellation policy.

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  6. At this moment there are items available when I sign into my Dad’s account that are not available on mine even if I search the exact description.

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  7. Re; The giant AirMiles.Com scam. As far as AirMiles.Com is concerned, there are too many restrictions and loopholes to comply with in the first place, You are not at liberty to choose the air line you wish to travel on, nor are you free to select the hotel you wish to stay at on your trip. The cash surrender value of the points earned (however much it is) should be handed to you to use as you please. There is a lot of “hype” about how wonderful the plan is but, realistically speaking , the whole thing is fraught with nothing more than frustration and deception. In other words, you would be far better off dealing with a reputable air miles plan like Avion (RBC) or with TD Bank. I recommend that you have nothing more to do with AirMilesCom. unless you like being ripped off by a bunch of scam artists. The one time I ever did get a few dollars to put towards a trip, I spent around two days on the phone and received a whole pile of contradictory “double talk”. Just talking to these guys on the phone is stressful, assuming you are lucky enough to receive a reply. I am a charter member of Airlines.Com, but I am now looking for a fair and honest deal. I am not interested in kitchenware or bedspreads. I am looking for a rebate on airline tickets in exchange for my loyalty. Airlines.Com owes me more than one trip. Instead , I hear that the company plans a claw-back of points for December 2016. This is called white-collar “theft” , regardless of how many ties and suits their executives wear.

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  8. In February 2016 I tried to book a flight for NOVEMBER to Los Angeles , any date would have been fine..but no dates were available..Tried again for another month…no dates were available..must be some sort of scam or what is the problem?? Been collecting airmiles for years and now I cannot use them..

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  9. I earned many of my Airmiles points through an incentive program at work and I had to pay taxes on those points as they were calculated as income. I stand to lose about 13,000 points because I have been collecting them to use on a holiday. I only recently learned, from a friend mind you, that I was going to lose my points. Airmiles should have been upfront and perhaps sent out an actual letter to their members telling them of the changes. To me, this is like changing the rules to the game as it’s being played. Very unfair. Bottom line is that I’m now going to lose miles that I paid taxes on because I don’t need any of the “stuff” that they have available. Shoddy business practice Airmiles, to say the least. Take my Airmiles away and I’ll not shop at any of the sponsor businesses again. Goodbye Shell, Safeway, Sobeys, etc.

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  10. Can the attorneys implead the merchants such as Shell Gas IGA etc. who are a party to this scam? I always shopped at stores that rewarded AIR MILES which are totally worthless and have an expiry date . Case in point, Air Miles offered an LG TV for $1,700. plus ?number of points. This same set can be purchased at Costco for $1,400 without Air miles points. If the merchants were to be sued as well, I am sure they would cancel their connection with Air Miles and that would put Air miles out of business, since it is they who pay Air Miles for the points that are allotted to their customers.

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  11. I have been a Gold Member for decades and was collecting regular Air Miles for all those years. I looked at my account in July to find the accumulation of DREAM Air Miles, which are basically worthless. I called them and discovered that this change was made by them as their DEFAULT position. I was chatised by their client service department and told that I should have been more “vigilant” with my account. I suggested to them that these actions may result in a class action suit ! Thank You for doing this. I am retired and if you require any assistance I would be able to volunteer my time ( 4 hours a week for five years ) = 1040 hours to further our cause. I now avoid all retail participants in the AIR Miles Program.and tell them so at every opportunity.

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  12. I have been collecting airniles for years and now have time to travel and am loosing 50000 with little choice of air travel. I ‘m asking, how many round trips can I take to local city to shop, can’t book for travel on holiday weekends either., shop for the type of Chritmas presents the family doesn’t want just to get rid of points? I have worked with Avion points in past and they are a dream to use in comparison with Airmiles.
    So all said & done, my retirement present is a washout! I appreciate the class action suit being filed against air miles.

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  13. I have dream miles and I want cash miles, can not use my old ones What a joke .

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  14. Hi heard miles were going to be taken away in last week of Sept. I have been collecting for years. I went on the website and found my dream vacation, which is what I have been saving for. I called Airmiles Oct 3 I was on hold for 1 1/2 hours, before I finally opted for the ‘call back” option. the next day I did receive a call back, I waited for 10 minutes for someone to answer, I gave her all my vacation details, and she said “OH…hang on a minute” I was then placed on hold for 1 1/4 hours …. then I talked to another person, once again giving all my details, I was put on hold several times, then was told I was “very lucky” as someone will call me back the next day between 7-9 pm to book. wow… unreal…. … the next day I glued my phone to me between those hours, and of course no one called. I didn’t at the time know there was a lawsuit being filed, so I filed a BBB complaint. I did receive a call from airmiles several days later and they left a message, so I called them back and had to leave a message for them, and to date I have not had a response. from the comments I have read, it looks like I am going to have trouble booking what I want anyway. I am happy there is a lawsuit against them now. this is ridiculous.

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  15. That’s is for my bmo air miles mastercard , I was buying many thousands of dollars a month on it now almost nothing . I blame BMO for letting air miles destroy their customers . I just keep the card for some online purchase etc. I use the mastercard from Costco,ca It pays me in CASH instead or making me hold on a line for days begging to talk to an agent at Air MIles .

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  16. Robin Manton, I completely agree with you that the Bank of Montreal should also be named as a defendant. As of this morning, their website is, get this, “rewarding” any new customers with 800 Air Miles. You can’t get more actively “rewarding” new customers than that, can you?
    Also, AIR MILES collectors should be aware that if you have a Bank of Montreal Air Miles card, the cost is currently $99.00 annually. If holders of that card want to send a message to the Bank of Montreal, consider advising that you will not renew the card due to the Air Miles cancellation policy.

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  17. I was saving my air miles in hopes of having a vacation some day that I would not be able to afford otherwise and had no idea that they would some day expire. We even used a realtor that offered air miles in order to add air miles a few years ago. When I heard about the expiry and called for information, I was told that transfer miles to another account would be available…so had a friend get an air miles card and when looked into transferring the miles and was shocked that I had to pay to transfer the points which was not mentioned in the phone conversation with air miles months prior. This is so so frustrating! And now the dream rewards are virtually offering nothing to choose from and miles needed to purchase is a rip off.

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  18. Unbelievable trying to get a hold of someone to book at trip, I have never been on hold so many times and for so long each time. Crazy. I even had call backs and then put on hold for hours. Finally told today that they are not taking any more bookings for trips so I am out of luck. Monday, left message for call back to book trip, call back set for Thursday 12-2. I called again Tuesday, talked to someone after a hour and half then told I needed to talk to different area, got transferred but after another 1 1/2 hours was only given the option for another call back by recording. (Thursday 10-12) Tried to call Wednesday but the phone lines were all down all day! Got call back on Tuesday at around 10:15, put on hold until 12:10. Was then informed no booking appointments left until 2017. My other call back call came through, same thing put on hold, after 1 1/2 hours the line went dead! So much for my airmiles! Can’t image this is all above board, I feel they are trying everything they can not to have to redeem our points. Still can not believe the whole mess.

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  19. Painstakingly, for half a century, I collected my Dream airmiles most of the time one by one, How can they strike them all off in the twinkling of an eye? It is disgusting. When I joined the AIRMILES program, it was never mentioned that I must redeem them before I reach my goal!

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  20. To whom it may concern,
    As of today, Dec. 1 2016, the Air Miles program has announced that the planned points expiry date on Dec. 31/16 is halted as of immediately. Too bad for all the ‘believers’ such as myself who have spent countless hours and days online and on the phone waiting, waiting, waiting for response and then desperately trying to figure out what best to spend their soon to expire points on before that dreaded date! I succumbed a week ago out of fear of loosing them and knowing that I’ll be leaving the country in the next days and needed to use them now or loose. Today I received an item I ordered which I never would have bought…I didn’t want to purchase anything at this point but saw no other way out and now regret having ‘wasted’ so many of my long and hard earned points for something I would love to return now but apparently can’t as per Air Miles non refund policies. Here’s hoping they will have to make up for this blunder somehow. Thank you!

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  21. So…now that I rush to cash in my miles on small appliances I didn’t really want…rhey change their mind! REALLY!!! I still think they should have the a$$es sued off them….

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