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Barclays Is Clueless On The AA Shutdown Shenanigans

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Barclays Is Clueless On The American Airlines Shutdowns

Barclays Is Clueless On The American Airlines Shutdowns

I had an interesting phone call from Barclays yesterday that tells me they are clueless about the goings-on with American Airlines AAdvantage accounts / AA shutdown events. For those with shutdowns of their AAdvantage accounts, I think it’s worth letting Barclays know what’s going on. Another stakeholder questioning American Airlines’ claim of absolute power might check their egos. Here’s what happened during my phone call from Barclays.

Prior To The Phone Call

Not to beat a dead horse, American Airlines shutdown my account (as well as my wife’s account). I wrote about it here. As many other people have done, we filed Department of Transportation complaints against American Airlines. My wife and I also filed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau complaints regarding the credit cards we had that earned AAdvantage miles.

While it’s one thing for American Airlines to be unhappy about bonuses earned, I earned miles from daily spend on my Barclays AAdvantage Aviator card for 7 years. I also earned miles from retention offers, in addition to daily spend, on cards from Citi. That includes personal and business cards. When American Airlines sent my wife and I super generic emails, they confiscated miles that had nothing to do with what they’re upset about.

Barclays and Citi promised us miles for daily spend, then American Airlines shutdown the accounts and confiscated miles that had nothing to do with welcome offers. This even includes seizing miles earned from flying on cash fares. Because of that, we filed complaints against the credit card companies for not protecting the consumers participating in their rewards programs.

If for nothing else, having American Airlines’ financial partners getting mad at them might put AA in check. Barclays and Citi have to pay for the miles from AA before giving them to the customer. When American Airlines claws back those miles, the customer and the bank have nothing. American Airlines keeps the miles and the money. Banks care about getting fleeced on a deal.

Barclays Is Clueless On The American Airlines Shutdowns

Phone Call From Barclays

Within 2 hours of submitting my CFPB complaint, I got a phone call from Barclays. It started like this: “Hi, this is ____ calling from the office of the President of Card Services for Barclays Bank.” That got my attention. He told me he’d received my complaint. He called because the president has a policy of making contact with the complaint author within 24 hours.

I asked him if he knew about the ongoing American Airlines shutdowns, and he knew nothing. I tried probing more, and he told me this was the first complaint he’d seen about American Airlines co-branded cards from Barclays. While everyone has been focusing their ire on Citi and American Airlines, Barclays also is involved here in some ways. Despite that, they’re totally clueless on this situation.

I told him I’d contacted customer service via the number on my card, and they knew nothing. American Airlines won’t give me any info. Thus, I felt obligated to file a formal complaint. He said he understood and wanted to know if this was just a handful of people. When I told him that possibly thousands of people were involved, he started thinking like a banker. That’s because countless miles Barclays previously bought from AA were confiscated from the customer. He cared that they were losing money on this. Now, someone cares about our situation.

He said he couldn’t promise anything but said his boss will be floored by this situation. He also promised that he would conduct an investigation and reach out to me with updates.

After My Phone Call From Barclays

My wife got the same phone call today. The representative knew nothing about the AA shutdowns. We told her to just talk to the guy I spoke with yesterday.

I think it’s worth noting that Barclays is involved in this situation. They just don’t seem to know it. It seems like no one is contacting Barclays to complain about daily spend earnings, retention offers, and welcome bonuses that Barclays offered yet are now being clawed back by American Airlines. American Airlines sits on the miles and the money from Barclays, Barclays and the customer get left with 0. Banks tend to care about profit margins going awry like this.

Final Thoughts

Citi seems well aware of the situation at this point. Enough people have contacted them and filed complaints that they know something is happening, even if they claim to not be involved. Barclays seemed genuinely clueless from our interactions with them. I didn’t get the impression that both phone reps were faking surprise or pretending to know nothing. Who knows what will come of this. However, if you’ve had miles confiscated in an American Airlines shutdown that originally came from Barclays, it’s worth letting Barclays know about it. The more people they hear from, the more they might put into this investigation. Maybe American Airlines hearing from angry credit card issuers will make them stop their power grab.

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Ryan Smith
Ryan Smith
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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  1. I received marketing flyers from AA (about Barclay card). you took my flyers and applied. You got approved. Got AA miles. Now AA shut you down. Sorry but you’re a con artist.

  2. […] Ryan had an attention-grabbing cellphone name with Barclays that exposed they’re clueless about what’s going on with American Airways AAdvantage accounts / AA shutdown occasions. For these with shutdowns of their AAdvantage accounts, I feel it’s value letting Barclays know what’s occurring. One other stakeholder questioning American Airways’ declare of absolute energy may verify their egos. Learn extra right here. […]

  3. You exploited offers not explicitly offered to you, or your wife, and supposedly not explicitly stated as “non-transferable” to you.

    Their email isn’t vague. You exploited offers for additional gain in their program. You’re in the wrong. And the relationship amongst the real power-players between Citi, American, and Barclays does not always filter down to the representative who gives you a call.

    If you want to shake that relationship, file lawsuits. Except, the Supreme Court has already ruled in favor of the airlines — twice.

    • Thanks for coming by. I’ll go out on a limb that your email address is fake, since you keep saying “they”. However, I want to give a response to a few things you said that don’t pass the common sense test.
      If something doesn’t say it’s not transferable, it’s transferable.
      Their email is vague because it’s not specific about what their issue is. We’re all just assuming.
      Your comment about not filtering down assumes that someone lied — the rep to me or the agent to the rep. That’s an odd assumption to make, just to try to make a point. Simplicity says we shouldn’t insert extra pieces unnecessarily just to make a story continue.

  4. I admit that losing customers doesn’t look good to the shareholders of a credit card company, but I wonder if the type of people that used mailers or just signed up for a card to get the bonus are profitable to the credit card company. Something tells me that the most, if not all, of the accounts that are being shut down weren’t profitable for anyone except for the person getting the miles.

    • Maybe, but they’ll have to argue that a bunch of under-1-year-old cards and customers aren’t profitable and that a huge drop in number of customers actually is a good thing. Interesting thought, though.

  5. I’m wondering if the banks would expect money back.

    When credit card related airline miles expire do the banks get paid back?

    Or are miles fungible and it’s just to much work to identify the source?

    You could argue that the banks got everything they were expecting in return for buying the miles. With a refund they would come way out ahead, being that they got your spend or whatever for nothing. Except of course for the effect on future use of the cards that people still actually have.

    • I think Barclays and Citi are going to see a HUGE drop in cardholders this year, with tons of cards being closed. They’re going to lose annual fees and daily spend on all of these. Then, numbers plummet, which looks bad to investors, then… It will start a process for them that they won’t like. I think it’s different from expiring miles, because even with expiring miles they usually send you notifications to try to help you maintain them. This…AA didn’t communicate at all. I don’t doubt they can identify the source. Sources were always listed in my AA account.

      • But what I was mainly wondering is do the banks get anything back for the expired miles they paid for? Or is that pure airline profit (assuming the miles came from credit cards). I suspect the latter as the banks have no idea if points have been used, taken away, expired or whatever happens. Only the airline would have that info.

        I guess we’ll see the effects as to number of cards dropped. I do know a lot of people have travel cards, but never visit a travel blog. They’re kind of oblivious to this whole thing, but they don’t remotely do any of the things that could make them vulnerable anyway.

        Any idea what percent of total cardholders are affected or likely to be concerned enough to drop cards? If it’s a small percent they could easily say they were losing on those customers anyway. Now if the overall credit card profits go down that’s another story.

        Good read.

        • Expired miles – I highly doubt they get anything back. For this, I wonder if their interests/point of view will change.
          As for number of cards, I agree that the majority of cardholders aren’t taking our approach to maximizing via welcome offers and regularly getting new cards. However, we know this impacts thousands of people at this point, so while there’s no data on % of Citi customers or % of AA members (none I know of), it’s not a rounding error type of # either. This will get noticed somewhere, from my view.

  6. Thanks for sharing. A point you made is exactly why AA should not have shut down accounts and instead just clawed back bonuses. Only 180,000 of my 400,000 miles were from sign up bonuses but I lost all of it.

    • And I think taking things that are unrelated to all of this is where they’re overreaching, opening themselves up for losing court cases / souring relationships with business partners / etc.

  7. Not sure why so many people are combative in the comments, but it’s annoying. Thanks for the useful info about Barclays. I’m sorry to hear that your AA account was closed and the miles were confiscated for both of you. While I didn’t personally use mailers for whatever reason I cannot explain, use of a mailer that was not labeled non-transferable, given to you by someone else certainly does not constitute fraud. I wonder how many people here got the AA Executive MC with the 100K offer a few years back. So many people applied for and received dozens of those Executive MCs which was clearly egregious, but I would not consider that fraud. I am unaware of anyone who faced consequences for excessive use of that scheme. It seems as if AA is now so financially desperate now, they are grasping at straws. The rest of us may be just a day away from AA dropping the next axe for the next retroactive change in terms and conditions. Minha esposa também é Brasileira. Chegamos a SP e RJ regularmente e eu amo o país e seu povo. Desfrutar.

  8. Bunch of Doug Parker blowhards in here. AA is doing a money grab because they are in free fall. If your reading this Doug you might need to sell that yacht you schmuck.

  9. Great post. Ignore the haters out there.

    AA went from $12B market cap to $7B in 2 months. Once the lawsuits kick in, heads will be rolling for this. NYC small claims limit recently upped to $10k, holla!

  10. You and your wife violated the T&C of AAdvantage. Crying about it more isn’t bringing your miles back. I continue to be amazed at the lack accountability here. It’s embarrassing to read the woe is me posts.

    • Jeff, thanks for continuing to comment, but I think you and I are reading different things here. You’re discussing things that I never said and never did. If there’s a lack of clarity somewhere, let me know, and I’m happy to explain.

      • I think he means since you allegedly violated terms of the AAdvantage membership agreement with the citi credit card shenanigans, even if that conduct has nothing to do with the AA miles you earned with Barclays, AA still has a right to revoke all miles part of their program. Once Barclays automatically transfers the miles to AA, Barclays isn’t responsible. You allegedly violated the terms of the AAdvantage program.

        • I understand this is the idea at play, but since Citi doesn’t have anything but some vague “we don’t like it” approach to the situation, that’s where this all becomes a power play on their part without something to really point to. While I agree that Barclays is a lesser player here, it’s still worth making them aware of what AA is doing to their customers, since Barclays now stands to have thousands of card closures this year (aka loss of revenue).

    • No. AA hasn’t told me why they shut me down. Their email is in that post for you to see. It’s as vague as could be.

  11. Man..tough crowd…
    I’ve read this blog and your previous and I”m confused..All the card data looks legit..However you said mailers were used. Unless I missed it you didn’t say if the mailers were for you or someone else.
    IF you used someone else’s mailer I think you got really whacked hard. But that’s the chance you take. Now if you used your own mailers (which I have received many. I probably have as many cards and accounts opened as you and received as many miles. However, I’ve never used anyone else’s mailer) then I call complete foul. I”m not locked and if I do get locked I’ll scream bloody murder. I’ve simply responded to every unsolicited offer they’ve sent me and met the requirements for the miles. And they kept offering me miles and more cards. Again…and again….and again.
    Thats not my fault. As a matter of fact I just recently opened another Citi bank account and they STILL sent me another flier!! I threw it away. Not taking the chance

    • I used mailers that came in my name and in other’s peoples’ names that didn’t say non-transferable. Where they all sent to me in my name? Nope. Did I violate any publicized rules? Nope. They’re just making a power play against consumers, and it surprises people think we should just take it. Those same people will complain about companies devaluing rewards programs and say the companies are evil, but then people rush to defend the companies. I find that odd.

      • I’ve been confused for a while, but I guess I should’ve read the comments. Are you saying that AA made offers to specific people, but there was no check in place that those specific people were redeeming the offer. So the codes in the offer weren’t really tied to anything?

        • Correct. They sent emails and letters in the mail saying “pre-approved, use this code” but literally anyone could use the code, even if your name wasn’t on it. They didn’t say “only for you, no one else is allowed to use it” or anything like that. Now the idea is that supposedly people were supposed to know no one else was allowed to use it, even if it didn’t say. I find that claim a bit…strange.

  12. These miles were obtained fraudulently, so you were in the AAdvantage program fradulently. Miles are always entitled to be forfeited if you break the rules of the program. smh.

    • Define your concept of fraud. Using a mailer that doesn’t say “no one else can use this” fits in your definition of fraud? Miles earned from daily spend & cash fares flown count as fraudulently earned miles? Painting with a wide brush to defend power grabs from billion-dollar industries seems odd, especially the next time programs get devalued and people will criticize those same institutions as evil.

      • I think that what Tony is referring to is the fact that you knew the mailers were not intended for you, but nonetheless used them to apply for credit (and obtain bonuses not intended for you). Does that constitute fraud (or misrepresentation) … I dont know. However, it appears that AA thinks it does and is exercising the terms contained within their membership agreement that allows them to claw back all the miles in your account (which they apparently did) — and not only just the miles obtained by fraud and/or misrepresentation.

        While I understand that you would prefer that AA only claw back the miles from these mailers, their terms of agreement appear to allow them to claw back all of your miles.

        • Joe, the problem is that all of this is just assumption. With AA not citing anything specific or outlining exactly what part of their terms they think apply here, all of this is conjecture. Time will tell if they’re really entitled to do this. Right now, it’s a power grab. Nothing was fraud or misrepresentation, because I never pretended to be someone else. Citi and Barclays verified my identity and creditworthiness, and AA verified it by making sure the name on the cards matched the name on the frequent flyer account. I think claiming those things is a big leap from “AA not happy” to “fraud/misrepresentation”.

  13. I think you just exposed the fact that everybody likes to research and complain but in the end refrain from actually doing anything.

  14. Ryan great going, what the end result maybe is Barclays demanding AA refund them the miles they gave you and anyone else that was shutdown either in Miles or $$ that Barclays paid. Same will hold for Citi. The Banks will get their refund while you and everyone else will get Zippo. I doubt Citi and Barclays are going to demand that you and everyone else be made whole, they still want their relationship with AA and will go forward have a clause where they get refunded should AA shut anyone else down.

    As Ye Ole saying goes, if you dont want to get burnt dont play with matches, you played and got burnt, move on

    • But your entire comment is built upon the ideas that 1) we should just let these companies walk on us and 2) that Barclays/Citi asking for their money back won’t make AA stop trying to run over customers. I’m not sure what words would sufficiently describe how much I disagree with the assumptions your comment is built on.

  15. You took a shot you weren’t supposed to take. You missed. And now you’ve alerted Barclay’s that you’re a shot taker. Great way to get put on another banned list. Time to stop playing the victim and take your medicine.

    • Jimmy, could you clarify? I see no relevance between your comment, the assumptions built into it, and what I’ve actually said. I think you’re replying to things no one said.

    • “Time to stop playing the victim and take your medicine.”

      Someone clearly rustled your jimmies. Bless your heart!

  16. Great idea! Glad you’re not letting AA off the hook.

    Any updates from the Reddit thread or developments since you’re last post? It’s impossible to find info since they’re not letting anyone else into the thread.

    • To be honest, I haven’t been in there much, since I’ve been overwhelmed with other things happening in life. If there’s anything significant, I’ll let you know.

  17. Or you could get banned for life by Barclays because AA tells them you were gaming.

    Is Barclays more likely to cut ties with you or with AA regarding your accounts?

        • But what about those people who were caught in the crossfire? Who were not gaming. Who did not churn. Who responded to their own mailers and earned the points legitimately. I know several people like that. They just got swept up in the trawl because they had 2 SUB s over the past two years. All completely legitimate.

        • Define your concept of fraud. Using a mailer that doesn’t say “no one else can use this” fits in your definition of fraud? Miles earned from daily spend & cash fares flown count as fraudulently earned miles? Painting with a wide brush to defend power grabs from billion-dollar industries seems odd, especially the next time programs get devalued and people will criticize those same institutions as evil.

          • It seems that you think your actions were not fraud or misrepresentation, while AA and a percentage of the persons reading your blog seem to disagree. I am not sure of your chances at success in court or any other tribunal, but best of luck to you.

          • I’m far from the only person who thinks this is nowhere close to fraud/misrepresentation.
            Also, I had to fish out your comments from our spam filter because you keep listing a new email address every time you comment. If you don’t use your real email address, your comments can get lost. I just happened to be logged into the site doing something else and saw the ‘spam comments’ number go up. FYI.


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