The Lifemiles agent heard that? Oops…

Lifemiles is the frequent flyer program of AviancaTaca, and they’ve been getting quite a bit of attention due to their 100% bonus on purchased miles promotions they’ve been running since joining the Star Alliance.

I took advantage of the 100% bonus on purchased Lifemiles last month, and needed to make a change to a ticket I had booked. One of the many oddities of the Lifemiles program is that they charge $50 to redeposit an award while they charge $150 to make a change. Yeah, I don’t get it either.

Anyway, when calling they require both the member and the person whose credit card was used to be on the phone, and in this case those were two different people. Once they start to process your refund they need a credit card for the $50 cancellation fee. But you don’t actually give the agent your credit card information, but rather they forward you to an automated system where you enter all your card details. I figured this was kind of like Delta’s PIN authorization system, where they forward you to an automated system and the agent isn’t on the line, and once you’re “verified” the agent picks up again.

When he puts us through the system to enter our credit card information, I couldn’t help but make a remark to my friend over the phone (again, I assumed we were dealing with a fully automated system), about just how shady I found the agent and the whole operation, and a sarcastic comment about wondering why they don’t have us give the agents our credit card details directly. Then I heard the guy clear his throat. Oops.

So word of warning — when you think you’re dealing with an automated system with no human on the line, you’re wrong. The agent is there and listening.

No wonder the mileage refund still hasn’t posted even three days later, and when I called to follow up they claimed it was never processed…

Filed Under: Advice
  1. It is the second time he’s been caught. The call center rep does a 3-way call to connect you to automated system. They will usually hold on the other line (on mute) so that can help you enter the info correctly, provided you do not follow the prompts correctly. Plus it keeps them from having to take another call from somebody looking to bad-mouth them.

  2. I was just going to mention what Jayson said. You’ve posted about this before. I fail to see how this is really good content for your blog. Are you doing this just to generate Twitter hits? I don’t get it.

  3. Good grief, what’s with all the negativity in the comments? Lay off Lucky! The post is a useful warning to other folks who might not realize the agent is still listening in.

  4. Wow, those mark and Jayson guys are real shady jerks. Whoa! Ooops. Is this thing on??

  5. You must be rubbing people the wrong way because this hasnt been my experience at all. I cancelled an award ticket on SQ that I had made with Life Miles a week ago for a third party and was not asked for the third party to be there. The process was quick, efficent and good. It took all of 5 minutes and I had the miles re-deposited in my account the next day. The reason they put you through to enter CC info is for YOUR safety so you cant say they stole your CC details. Stop whinging so much Lucky….give it a break,and be more polite to call centre starr who are trying to do their job!

  6. I got sent to the automated system–in Spanish.
    I’m proud of myself for actually getting through it. four years of high school Spanish were good for something

  7. @David You would think after the first time that lucky would have learned to wait until the call’s done?

  8. This may not be true anymore, but when I sat in on the phones at a credit card issuer a long time ago, associates could hear you even while you were put on hold and you were hearing the hold music. They had some chuckles over the things people said while they thought nobody was listening.

  9. This is still true (not just at banks), however they can choose to listen or not. They don’t always listen while on hold.

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