Club Carlson Bonus Award Night Devaluation
In case you were under a rock for most of the morning, Frequent Miler discovered that Club Carlson is devaluing by removing the Bonus Award Night benefit from their co-branded credit card. To replace that benefit, they are offering a free night annually with $10,000 in spend.
Before I go any further, take a look at my first sentence. The key part of this whole thing is that Frequent Miler (or one of his readers) discovered this change since it was printed on their statement. I have seen many people today refer to the “announcement”, but in reality there wasn’t one initially. Someone discovered this little blurb slipped into the bottom section of the last page of their statement. That is how the world got to find out.
You would think a company like Club Carlson (Carlson Rezidor) who has an overall good reputation in the community and who holds great promotions and Twitter contests would think far enough ahead to actually inform members of upcoming changes. In this case it doesn’t seem like they felt an announcement was important. If they did, then why not come out and say it?
Of course later in the day after many of their members shared outrage, the company sent out an email announcing the change. They also offered cardholders 30,000 bonus points after an upcoming stay which is nice, but it almost seems like too little too late. Where was this email before the news broke? Why was the only announcement in the form of a small blurb on the last page of a statement. A page that is otherwise blank and is easily overlooked I may add.
When Was the Announcement Added to Statements
After reading this morning’s news I logged into the two Club Carlson credit card accounts I have access to. One had a statement printed on March 19 and it didn’t have any word of this change. The other account’s statement printed yesterday and it had the infamous news printed on the final otherwise blank page.
So sometime between March 19 and yesterday they decided to start telling customers about this monumental change on their statements, but for some reason they didn’t feel it was important enough to announce publicly. How can they do such a good job of getting the news of their Twitter party out there, but fail to communicate such an important change?
I Don’t Hate Them
Unlike some I am a realist. Corporations are in business to make profit and I am sure this change is being implemented because the Bonus Award Night benefit costs too much money. Pretty much every blogger including myself has called the Bonus Award Night unsustainable since the card first came to market a couple of years ago.
My real issue isn’t with the company making this change (although it makes their program significantly less valuable in my opinion), but with how they dropped the news. Now to be fair U.S. Bank may have mistakenly started announcing this before Club Carlson was ready, but I find that unlikely given the benefit is going away in less than 2 months.
Their Biggest Mistake
Of course I don’t know, but I honestly think U.S. Bank and Club Carlson thought they could follow their legal requirement of disclosing this news on statements and that it would sort of go unnoticed. If that is indeed what happened, what a huge mistake. There is only one thing worse than heavily devaluing your program and that is being disingenuous about it.
Club Carlson and U.S. Bank may have had to make this change for business reasons, so I can’t fault them on that. The free market will ultimately determine if it is the right move for them. With that said, the way this news came out is disappointing and makes me doubt the company and the Club Carlson loyalty program going forward.
Hopefully Club Carlson will learn their lesson and be more transparent when the next devaluation comes around. It is a mistake to undervalue the importance of honesty and respect when dealing with your customers. Now lets pray that all of these 30,000 point bonuses don’t force the company to “announce” another devaluation soon!