Delta SkyMiles Has a New VP, Amex Loses Costco, and the Korean Air Nut Rage VP Gets Sentenced to Work for United

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. People would actually buy things online and then return them for a cash refund? I don’t know if that’s illegal, but it’s sure immoral. This is the kind of thing the credit card companies/banks/government should be cracking down on.

  2. Hey Gary,

    I don’t follow your Costco story. Just because they stop accepting Amex doesn’t mean they start accepting Visa and Mastercard. Before Amex they were exclusively Discover card (a thing that still exists you know). I still have a Discover card solely because of Costco. They could also go cash/debit or “you pay the juice for your Visa/MC point scam.” There’s no law that says a member-run store needs to pay for your first class travel. That’s essentially what this is about.

    And if they don’t start accepting Visa / Mastercard in stores then I assume your scam will still work – I think it’d be hard to run a web site any other way.

  3. @Arcanum what Gary describes might be immoral but it’s hardly illegal. First of all Costco is a membership store – you pay them to shop there, and then they setup the rules. For example for a long time one rule was that you could return anything at any time for any reason. People exploited this loophole to return flat screen TV’s every 18 months as the product improved and the price stayed the same. That wasn’t illegal, probably was immoral, and is no longer the rule. I live in San Diego and last week I saw a guy return a used sea kayak full of sand – no idea why but those are the rules.

    Anyway most stores refund online returns the same way you paid. But because Costco doesn’t do business in stores with Visa or MasterCard they can only pay you with cash, check or gift card. The days of people buying $25,000 diamond rings online and returning them for churn are gone, but for smaller purchases this is still possible (they’ll stop it when it becomes too costly). Look at the stock price if you want to see how it’s overall going for them.

  4. Now we know why the SkyMiles change happened when it did.

    He’s two months in – and first idea to improve the program for Delta is remove the chart so there is no expectation set, which lets him fine tune.

    Seems quite plausible that was one of his first moves. And explains the strange timing after the charts were introduced – he simply arrived in January.

  5. @Greg I think the direction of the program was decided before – and at a higher level than – him.

    @Brian L – there aren’t a whole lot of players on the board…

    @Arcanum – yes people would do that. I am not one of those people, and mentioning it was more of a humorous take on the subject than anything else.

  6. In Canada, Costco switched from AmEx to Capital One MasterCard (but they now accept all Mastercards, not just the co-branded one), so it’s likely that’s what will happen in the US. (The change in Canada just happened a couple months ago).

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