I wrote last week about what happened with a reservation that I made with my Rapid Reward points through Southwest’s More Rewards program. That program allows you to redeem your SW points at 1 cent per point for international travel (as well as other travel options). If you are not near any Southwest airports (like in my case), it presents a nice way to still get some value out of SW points beside just redeeming for gift cards. Yes, I know it is not a good redemption with SW points, but it is a great way to realize value even when Southwest does not work for you.
The Problem Begins – Airline Cancelation
Let me be clear – Southwest Airlines has handled this in a great way for me. It is their More Rewards program that has the bad customer service.
The problem started when the airline I was supposed to fly canceled their flight and rebooked me on a day that does not work at all and no other options on that day. When I called the airline, they told me they could not do anything with it, call the issuing agency – More Rewards. After 10 phone calls back and forth, where I ended up was that the airline would gladly refund me the money but the issuing agency had to request it. After speaking with a More Rewards rep on Friday, I was assured they would get it taken care of Monday and I would receive a refund.
Resolved? Not So Fast!
Fast forward to yesterday. No phone call from them at all and when I called, I was told there was nothing they could do. In fact, they had the nerve to say, “If you have the points available, I would be happy to book you another flight.” NO!!! I don’t want to spend more points. I want my points back, or the option to use the value on the same route later this year, but they won’t budge. They said it is Southwests’ policy and I need to speak with them.
On to Southwest! By this time, I am feeling trapped as it was originally the airline’s problem with the cancelation but they are prepared to issue a refund, they just have to do it back to More Rewards. More Rewards insists that they cannot do anything about it, even though it is out of my hands. When I called Southwest, I was eventually connected with a wonderful gentleman in Customer Relations. He listened to the whole ordeal and said he basically dealt with something similar the day before as a hotel had flooded out and canceled reservations and More Rewards would not give the customer back her points! He said it took a conference call between him (the SW rep), the customer, More Rewards, and the hotel to get it worked out. So he knew that More Rewards was capable of issuing refunds. He put me on hold for a moment and then connected a conference call with the two of us and More Rewards.
More Rewards’ Terrible Customer Service
If there was ever a phone call I wish I could have recorded, this was the one! I have never heard someone that talks to customers that sounded so distant from a situation and even ignorant of what was going on. It felt like he was reading from a script the whole time. My SW Customer Relations rep introduced himself and me to the More Rewards agent and explained the whole situation. After finishing everything, the More Rewards agent said, “Yeah, we don’t do that. If you want to take this up with someone, you will have to call Southwest.” I almost laughed out loud at this but just let the SW rep take it. He said, “[redacted], I am Southwest.” He was very polite but firm. The More Rewards guy said, “Oh, wow.” And then he kept insisting that there was nothing they could do and that it is why they read the cancelation policy to every customer so that the customer realizes that there is no refund if they want to cancel. He said he would be glad to cancel the reservation and forfeit the points for me but since I wanted to cancel the trip, they could not issue a refund. My SW rep was great and just kept going over it again and again to let the More Rewards agent know that I was not canceling it – the airline did.
SW Rep: Could you connect me with the department that can handle this for me? The airline is willing to refund but they need someone there to request it.
More Rewards Agent: This is like the only department, we don’t have another department.
SW Rep: I spoke with someone yesterday in a department that did this very thing so I know that it can be done. Could you tell me who I should speak with?
More Rewards Agent: Yeah, we don’t have another department. I don’t know what happened yesterday because we don’t do that.
SW Rep: Okay, [redacted], would you mind if I place you on a brief hold?
When the SW rep came back he told the agent that it was definitely More Rewards and that they definitely could handle this request but he would handle it another way. The More Rewards agent asked if he could do anything else for us, make a booking, etc. 🙂
How To Handle A Similar Situation With More Rewards
I was really glad to have the SW rep hearing what I had been dealing with for a collective couple of hours. By this time, it was not so much about the points but really wanting to see what it would take to get this sorted out because I know that other people make reservations through this method. I wanted to see how to handle it so I could suggest some help so someone else doesn’t pull out all their hair because of a situation like this.
It is unbelievable to me that a travel booking agency refuses to issue any refunds, even when the travel provider is trying to do a refund because of a problem. It is not inconceivable that problems occur, especially with foreign airlines/hotels. That More Rewards is so customer-unfriendly in how they handle such an incident is really disappointing.
I will say this – Southwest has been awesome, once I found the right department to speak to. Ultimately, it is their points and their booking partner, so they can help to some extent. Repeat, Southwest is great with this, More Rewards is terrible!
If you find yourself in a similar situation (after calling the travel provider and confirming they are not able to help you), call the Southwest Customer Relations number at 214-932-0333. If you are really stuck, contact me and I may be able to put you in touch with the representative who so kindly helped me.
They will need to open a Service Request and should give you a number identifying that. After about a week, you should receive the points back in your account. Remember, this is not for trips that you cancel or do not want to take – this is for when the travel provider has a problem and needs to refund you.
Hopefully, I will have my points back in my account in just a few days! It certainly has been a ride and it was almost fun and comical last night as I head the SW rep trying to deal with the More Rewards agent.