Friday, May 30, 2008

Southwest Wants to Limit Your Rewards

In the past, I have usually had good experiences flying Southwest. Southwest has the cheapest flights, they have a great website and their customer service is great. I classify Southwest as being a company in a group of companies like Google, Best Buy, Starbucks and Panera, that really try to step out of the box and provide the best customer experience possible, because after all, the overall customer experience is what keeps them coming back. I think Southwest has most parts of the airline business figured out, except their flight rewards system.
I think Southwest has purposely configured their Rapid Rewards program to minimize the credits given. I recently took three different trips on Southwest and didn't enter my RR number to the flights when I booked them. I tried to redeem these trips today on their web site and was thwarted with each attempt. Two of the flights were booked through a third party travel site and the other directly through the Southwest site. Each attempt to gain credit said that the name was different than the name on the account. I compared the names and they were different, but only because the middle initial was missing! Not even credit card companies require that the middle intial match if it's not there.
What makes matters worse, the only way I could dispute the matter is to write a letter, that's right, an actual ink and paper letter to the company. They didn't even give an email address. That's just rotten.
I guess the moral of the story is when you want to get rewards on air flight, hotels, rental cars, etc. make sure that you get credit for it at the time of booking. I'm sure they won't give you any trouble then because it is so easy to take your business elsewhere.