PSA: For New eBay Accounts, Remember to Enroll in eBay Bucks!

If you’ve been following me on Twitter for the past month, I’ve tweeted several times when there has been a new bonus eBay Bucks offer. My personal eBay account has luckily been targeted for almost every bonus eBay Bucks since sometime last year and I figured it was time for my wife to open her own eBay account so I can begin doubling up on reselling deals, especially during these bonus bucks offer.

The most recent eBay Bucks offer

The most recent eBay Bucks offer

I opened her account towards the end of 2015 and made a few purchases before the end of the year to earn some Q4 eBay Bucks…or so I thought. While my wife had not been targeted for any eBay Bucks offer, she should still have been earning the base eBay Bucks on most transactions which is 2%. However, I completely forgot one very important step – you actually need to enroll in eBay Bucks!

eBay Bucks Signup

This might strike some of you as obvious but it wasn’t for me as I (stupidly) assumed all new eBay accounts would be automatically enrolled in eBay Bucks. It never clicked for me that when I purchasing gift cards or other items under her account, it never showed any eBay Bucks earnings when I was checking out – I just assumed I’d receive them when the quarter ended and that eBay was just not showing it on the checkout screen for whatever reason. This also explained why my wife had no luck getting targeted for any bonus offers – you kinda need to be enrolled first to be elgibile for bonus offers. Doh!

Doh

So for any new eBay users or anyone setting up a new account for a friend/family member, please go to this link after opening the eBay account and signup for eBay Bucks. And once you are signed up, consult this handy reference from Doctor of Credit and be sure to read the comments as well on how to get targeted for bonus eBay Bucks offers which seem to be occurring on a weekly basis recently.

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There Was a Ton of Bad Blogging Yesterday

Start Rant.

Yesterday seemingly every blogger except yours truly posted about Hyatt Points & Cash awards being available online along with other features such as the ability to upgrade to club rooms using points online. That’s lovely and all (and actually quite useful for many people) but if you took the time to read through all 5,683 posts on this yesterday you could quickly figure out the good bloggers from the bad. How could you determine that? All by looking at their affiliate links or lack thereof in these posts.

Personally, I don’t believe any credit card links needed to be included in a post about Points & Cash award being available online but let’s say I’m wrong and you had to have one or two links because some bloggers are allergic to posts without credit card links (cough MileValue). One would think that breaking news involving Hyatt maybe warrants the inclusion of I don’t know the HYATT CREDIT CARD?!?!  You know the one that offers 2 free nights at any Hyatt, a $50 statement credit and 5,000 points for adding an authorized user? That’s a pretty solid offer right there that you never hear about from all these “expert” bloggers.

This drove the blogosphere crazy yesterday

This drove the blogosphere crazy yesterday

Instead my eyes were repeatedly slammed with Sapphire & Ink links in most of these posts. Yes, I understand that Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Hyatt and you are presenting your readers with an option to earn Hyatt points via those cards. Fine I don’t love the way you’re doing it but I get it. But please explain why it is so difficult to add in a link to the Hyatt card as well?  Oh wait you didn’t include it because it doesn’t pay you anything? Ah that makes more sense but for the sake of your readers you couldn’t just included it in your post along with your Sapphire and Ink links? Is it too much to gamble that a reader might choose to apply for a card that *gasps* don’t make you any money? I mean look I just included a link to it here – that wasn’t hard, it doesn’t pay me a dime and look I survived!

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – before you go trusting all these bloggers and signing up for cards left or right from their links think about how they handle themselves on topics like this. Did they at least mention the Hyatt card in their post ? Or did they say screw the logical insertion of the arguably the most applicable credit card for the post (if one was even warranted) and instead just took it as another opportunity to blast their Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink links? It’s almost like they care more about padding their wallets than helping their readers….

And don’t get me started on bloggers finally getting their links for the Citi AA 50k offers and claiming the offer just returned. Newsflash the 50k offer never went away if you knew where to look!

End Rant.

Good Day.

I’m Gonna Recommend You Don’t Stay at the Park Hyatt Maldives During the Holidays…

unless you want to pay $570 PER PERSON for a buffet dinner.

I have an upcoming stay at the Park Hyatt Maldives in October so I have been following the Flyertalk thread on the property pretty religiously. Yesterday I noticed that someone who is booked over New Year’s was informed of a mandatory dinner that night which ran an astounding $570 per person. Don’t believe it? Here it is listed here on the hotel’s website.

NYEDinner

I’ll concede that the food sounds great but for a couple you are looking at $1,140!! for a buffet dinner. And since the hotel is its own island, there is literally no other food options available that night. The best part is that this doesn’t even include an open bar! Notice no mention of spirits or other liquor included.

For Christmas, however they give customers a little bit of a break at only $320 per person for dinner! And this dinner doesn’t even include beer or wine.

XmasDinner

Look, I understand many hotels around the world have a mandatory or some sort of set dinner on holidays and they are generally overpriced. And I know food costs in the Maldives are expensive. But in this specific case, these prices are criminal. Seriously I can’t even comprehend the mere thought of a buffet that costs over $1,100 for two of us. I just can’t wrap my head around it. Imagine if you booked this hotel for the week covering both Christmas and New Year’s eve? I actually feel bad for you.

Gary over at View From the Wing just posted about his top 10 pet peeves about hotels. I don’t know how mandatory holiday dinners didn’t make the list especially when they are this egregious.

Problem with a Flight or Hotel Stay? Don’t be Afraid to Say Something, You Might Earn Some Extra Miles

If you travel enough (and if you are reading this blog or any points/miles blog you probably do), inevitable there will be times where the service at a hotel wasn’t satisfactory, or there was an issue on your flight. In most cases, you should bring the problem to attention of the manager or person in charge in hopes they could accommodate you or at least provide a satisfactory solution to your problem. Ideally, at this point, the issue would be resolved but say it can’t be fixed or the solution didn’t work out as you hoped? My advice is to document everything and followup with customer service after your flight or hotel stay and you might be presently surprised to receive miles or points for your trouble. 

Before I detail my situation, I recognize handing the situation after the fact only serves as a method to complain and can’t really fix the problem, since that problem is now in the past. However, if my problem wasn’t fixed to my satisfaction, I feel it is totally justifiable to raise an issue afterwards in hopes of getting compensation for your troubles. Sometimes that compensation will be actual dollars while other times it will be in the form of points or miles – it really depends on the situation.

My most recent travel issue a few months ago involved a red-eye Delta flight from Phoenix to JFK on a Sunday night after the #WestCoastDo. Being that this was a red-eye flight and I planned on going straight to work afterwards, I was really hoping to get 3-4 hours of sleep on this flight. The flight takes off as schedules and once we are allowed to recline our seats, I attempt to do so to maximize any chance of getting sleep. However, my seat was “stuck” and would not recline even a little bit. 

No recline for you!

No recline for you!

My first course of action was to immediately call over a flight attendant and let them know about the problem. Truthfully, she didn’t seem to care that much but noted she would write a note to maintenance letting them know the seat was not working properly. I then asked if there were any open seats on the plane I could switch to and of course, the flight was completely full. That mean I was stuck for the remaining four hours in an upright seat on a short, red-eye flight in which I really needed to sleep. Not ideal at all.

After the flight, I contacted Delta via email to explain my issues. I described the situation, what was done to fix it and most importantly, I asked for compensation for my troubles. I didn’t list out a specific amount but it was important to make it clear that since Delta didn’t provide their standard level of service due to a malfunctioning part on their plane which was their fault, I should be compensated for the hassle.

The next day, I got a response from Delta below:

DeltaResponse

I ended up with 3,700 SkyMiles for my trouble. I’m not sure how they determined that amount but I was happy with the resolution and considered the issue closed.

DeltaMiles

Here is a list of tips if you find yourself in a similar situation:

  • First try to have a manager/flight attendant/whoever is in charge fix the problem themselves
  • If not successful, ask them to document the issue so there is a record of it
  • Try to remember names of who you dealt and exactly how they offered to fix the problem
  • Upon returning from your trip, determine the best way to contact customer service to further discuss the issue
  • Describe the issue and how the manager/flight attendant/whoever is in charge attempted to fix the issue
  • Important: Ask for compensation since you didn’t have the typical experience (Delta/Hilton/Hyatt etc) strive for
    • In my situation, if I had paid for an upgrade to economy comfort, I would ask for a refund of my upgrade fee
    • Since I didn’t, I asked for “fair compensation since I was not able to properly utilize the seat as intended.”
  • Lastly, be professional and courteous with your response. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be stern and upfront about the issue but name-calling or cursing will not get you anywhere

If I didn’t complain about my issue with Delta, they would have not known about the seat malfunction and more customers down the line would been upset once they sat in that seat. Furthermore, while it didn’t solve the issue, I wouldn’t have received 3,700 Delta miles if I didn’t complain, which is worth about $37. Does that make up for a crappy flight experience? No, but it does make me feel better that Delta agrees there was an issue and wants to make me happy as a customer.

I’ve had similar experiences with JetBlue (when one of the bathrooms didn’t work on a flight) and on another Delta flight (where my TV didn’t work) and I got miles or a $50 credit in those cases. Have you ever got miles or money back for a bad flight or hotel stay?

Note: This is a scheduled post and I will be unable to answer comments or emails after undergoing laser vision correction eye surgery yesterday. I will respond once I am able to work on a computer again. 

Good To Know: Your Flight is Cancelled – What Do You Do? Here is My Experience.

As I alluded to in this post on the advantage of schedule changes, I used the schedule change to obtain a better flight to Anchorage but low and behold, I did not get to take advantage of that flight as it was cancelled. Thankfully I found out the night before from United that my connecting flight from LaGuardia to Chicago was cancelled. Here are some of the steps I took and some tips to remember the next time you have a cancellation.

Something you never want to see...

Something you never want to see…

1) Always give the airline your cell number and permission to text you with flight updates (at time of making reservation)- I was on the train home from work when I got a text from United that my flight the next morning was cancelled. Interestingly, I was not notified by email so without this text I likely would have missed or at the very least, found out hours later that my flight was cancelled. The earlier you know, the more options you will have to fix the situation.

2) Start researching other flight options – The first thing I do is look to see if the same airline I am suppose to be flying has any more flights that day to my destination. I start with the same airline as it is generally easier to get rebooked on their own flights. That said, airlines will book you on other airlines if they cannot accommodate you on their own flights. This is especially true if you tell the airline you need to be at your destination by a certain time for a family event, cruise, imporant meeting etc.

So after noting the possible flight options from your original airline, use Kayak or similar sites to get an idea what other airlines are flying to your destination and note the times. Make a list of the best three options or so and be prepared to push the agent to get rebooked on another airline.

3) Try to rebook online AND call the airline to rebook at the same time –  This applies if you are not at the airport, but simultaneously trying to rebook online while waiting on hold for an airline agent, can save you a lot of time, especially if you did the legwork to find possible flights above. In my case, United allows you to rebook a cancelled or delayed flight at www.united.com/rebook but this was not a perfect soultion. It was showing departures leaving NY that connected only through Chicago (my original routing) to get to Anchorage. Meanwhile, while doing my legwork above, I knew there was a later option routing through San Francisco that the system was not showing me.

So while I was online looking at my possible options, I called United and waited on hold. While on hold with United, I noticed the later Chicago to Anchorage flight at 5:40pm had only 2 first class seats left (remember I booked a first class award to Alaska so I only wanted first class seats which made this tougher). However the only possible NY to Chicago option the online system showed me involved a 5 hour layover and had economy seats. That said, I chose that option online to secure the last two first class seats from Chicago to Anchorage. This proved to be vital as you will see below in step 4.

Even though I had a new flight to Alaska, it wasn’t perfect (due to the long layover, economy seats from NY to Chicago and I wanted to see if the San Francisco option I found on my own was still available) so I continued to wait on hold until I got an agent. When I gave the agent my confirmation number, they were able to see the new flights I had just chose online only a few minutes prior. I explained the issue with the NY to Chicago flight but the agent didn’t seem to grasp what I was trying to do. This leads me to my favorite piece of advice…

4) H.U.C.A. – Remember this post about Hang Up, Call Again? Well, it worked out for me this time as the next agent instantly understood what I was trying to do. He checked availability for all first class options to Anchorage (including options from Denver and San Francisco) and told me they were all sold out. The 2 first class seats I secured for myself online earlier were the only first class seats left to Anchorage so I knew I had to connect through Chicago.

I knew there are several flights daily from the NY region that would get me into Chicago in time to make my flight but in my research while on hold, I saw there was now no first class from NY to Chicago at all. Since I really wanted first class for the much longer flight of the two (Chicago to Anchorage clocks in at over 6 hours in the air), I had no choice but to accept economy seats for the short NY to Chicago flight. I asked the agent to put us on the EWR-ORD flight that would give us  a two hour layover in Chicago and to assign exit rows seats since we had booked first class tickets but first class was not available. He did this without any problem and I confirmed our brand new itinerary was newly ticketed.

It turns out the exit room was plenty spacious for a two hour flight so in the end, we didn’t miss out too much. I hope I illustrated how important it is to act right away once you get notified of a cancellation. Remember everyone else on that plane and potentially thousands of others from other flights that may have also been cancelled, are competing with you for a limited number of seats.

In my case, I got the last two first class seats to Anchorage, otherwise I would have been forced to sit in economy the whole way, which obviously wasn’t ideal since I highlighted here why first class to Alaska (for me) is worth it. Lastly, if the first agent says no to a reasonable rebooking request or doesn’t sound knowledge,  don’t waste any more time with them and hang up, call again.

Stay tuned for a future post about what to do if a flight is cancelled or severely delayed and you are already stuck at the airport. Here’s hoping your next flight isn’t cancelled!