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.
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.
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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