The travel troubleshooter

What happened to my loyalty points?

 

elliottc@gmail.com

Q: I recently read your story about how persistence pays and it inspired me to write to you about my problem with Delta and Hilton HHonors. I’m a gold member of HHonors, Hilton’s loyalty program, and have saved for many years to plan a trip to Paris. I have accrued 550,000 points, and wanted to redeem them for a flight.

I called Hilton and they suggested that I contact Delta to handle the transaction. I did. At the end of the transaction, I learned that I’d been reduced to 55,000 Delta miles.

I immediately called and asked to put the mileage back into my Hilton account. I have spent months trying to do this, to no avail.

Delta tells me Hilton must request the points to be transferred back, and Hilton tells me Delta must do this. I have contacted supervisors and written to the president of Hilton. No response.

We recently spent nights in a Hilton in Las Vegas, and an employee told us to "be persistent" – that 550,000 miles were too many to lose. I am 80 years old, my wife is 75. We want to go to Paris. Can you help me?

Gale Flake, Everett, Wash.

A: Uh-oh. Looks like something got lost in translation when you converted your hard-earned Hilton points to Delta.

I couldn’t believe Delta was giving you a 1:10 conversion rate, but a check of the online conversion calculator (http://www.web flyer.com/programs/mileage_converter/) shows it’s correct. For every 10 Hilton points you’ll get one Delta SkyMile. The conversion rates are also clearly disclosed by Delta and Hilton on their sites.

When you called to make the conversion, it might have been nice if someone had warned you before you pushed the button. It appears that didn’t happen, and when you received your balance statement, both Delta and Hilton then played the blame game and stonewalled you when you tried to undo the transaction.

Why are these conversion rates so horrible? From my perspective, this unfair exchange shows how little these companies value their own miles and points. I’m not sure if the 1:10 conversion rate says more (or less) about Hilton or Delta, but one thing is certain: This is no way to repay a gold-level customer’s loyalty.

Both companies should have been falling all over each other to help you fix this. I would like to say that I’m surprised, but I’m not. Loyalty programs are there to help the company, not the customer. Except for the top 10th of a percent of elite-level customers, who bend and break rules by churning credit cards and taking mileage runs at their employers’ expense, loyalty programs are a losing proposition for travelers.

I think it’s time to rethink your allegiance to Hilton. Giving you the cold shoulder – that’s no way to say "thank you" for your loyalty. If you ever have trouble contacting Hilton again, try these executive contacts that I list on my site: http://elliott .org/contacts/hilton/.

I contacted Delta, which had your miles, and it reversed the transaction.

Read more Travel Troubleshooter stories from the Miami Herald

  • The travel troubleshooter

    My Priceline hotel closed — what should I do?

    Q: I’m scheduled to stay at a Ramada Inn next weekend, which I booked through Priceline earlier this year. I called today to confirm my reservation, and I found out that the hotel closed a few weeks ago.

  • The travel troubleshooter

    Running up a hotel bill in New York — does Delta owe me anything?

    Q: Many months ago, I booked a trip from Minneapolis to Milan on Delta using my frequent flier miles. I was scheduled to come back through John F. Kennedy International Airport.

  • The travel troubleshooter

    I’m contagious — can I get a refund for my flight?

    Q: Last year, I booked a round-trip ticket from Vienna to New York on Lufthansa’s website. I didn’t notice it, but the comprehensive fare rules were not displayed at the time of booking, only the following note:“The fare you have selected is nonrefundable (except the unused taxes and fees) and cannot or only with restrictions be rebooked.”

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK



  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category