Status of the 83,000 Mile AAdvantage Shopping Mall Offer?

Over on Milepoint a member named Cartera Commerce appeared to take responsibility for running the AAdvantage Shopping Mall and claims they’re not liable for providing any miles.

Attention AAdvantage eShopping(SM) customers:

Cartera Commerce, Inc., operator of the AAdvantage eShopping mall, displayed an incorrect offer for certain products available through Verizon Wireless on the AAdvantage eShopping mall website on Tuesday, August 10, 2011. The incorrect offer of 83,871 AAdvantage® miles for online purchases of certain Verizon wireless accessories was the result of a Cartera system error. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Due to Verizon’s Terms & Conditions, which reward American Airlines AAdvantage miles on service plans only, Cartera is relieved of awarding AAdvantage miles for shoppers who clicked on the offer and purchased Verizon Wireless accessories online. The specific Verizon Wireless AAdvantage eShopping mall offer Terms & Conditions – which were available on the offer details page – are as follows:

“Reward eligible for reward plans only (new service, family share, add a line, upgrade and prepay). Reward is not eligible on accessories.”

Those who purchased one of these incorrectly displayed products will receive an email from Cartera with further explanation, including instructions on how to return the product(s), if desired.

Again, we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and look forward to your continued use of the AAdvantage eShopping mall to maximize your mileage earning.

Now, I’m genuinely curious why Verizon’s terms and conditions would relieve Cartera Commerce of its obligation to fulfill the terms of an offer made not by Verizon, but by Cartera Commerce.

And as I just noted in a post earlier this evening, since the shopping portals are portrayed to members as being a part of the mileage program (rather than a separate merchant you’re doing business with, which is just buying miles from the program), that ultimately it’s the program we ought to be dealing with — and not Cartera Commerce.

The AAdvantage eShopping Mall offered over 83,000 miles for making a purchase. Folks made the purchases. There was little ambiguity.

That said, as I noted when posting the deal originally, this was going to be so costly to honor that I really didn’t think it would be honored. As I explained in the comments, I was in it for ‘the ride’ and that ultimately I figured that if the deal wasn’t honored, items could be returned for a refund, and perhaps there would be some goodwill miles offered as a part of this.

Apparently that’s exactly how it’s being handled. Commenter dealswelike has apparently already received the email referenced on Milepoint by Cartera Commerce. Her comment:

I just received an email stating (only copied select verbiage): “Verizon’s Terms & Conditions for the offer clearly state that miles can be earned on new wireless service plans only, not accessories. While these Terms & Conditions relieve Cartera from awarding AAdvantage miles for accessory purchases which were incorrectly advertised as including a miles feature, we realize our error may have prompted you to buy an accessory you didn’t need or intend on keeping. As a result, we will be offering you the following AAdvantage bonus miles as a gesture of goodwill as a valued AAdvantage eShopping member:

We will automatically post 2,500 AAdvantage bonus miles to your AAdvantage account within the next 10 business days.
We will earn an additional 2,500 AAdvantage bonus miles if you make a new purchase through the AAdvantage eShopping mall in the next 30 days*. AAdvantage bonus miles will be posted to your AAdvantage account within 45 days after the date the merchant notifies Cartera of a qualifying purchase.”

…The email also states directions to return your item if you only purchased it for the mile promotion. There will be no fee to return this item.

I expect we’ll all be getting such emails shortly.

Update: the same commenter returns to make clear that the email she received takes her to the Verizon page, whose return policy does state a $35 re-stocking fee. So it’s still a developing matter, in the end I have to beleive that this will need to be waived. But it could get a little sticky.

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. Has anyone considered small claims court? I’m not a lawyer but a few of my friends have successfully gotten compensation with just the threat.

  2. Correct me if I am wrong, but don’t the T’s and C’s on the programs claim the miles have no monetary value? Thus, wouldn’t AA be able to claim that an award of the miles is really of zero value, and thus cannot be sued for? This isn’t like suing for MONEY, its MILES, which is a currency in full control of the party you are suing. Whats needed here is not lawsuits for these miles, which one can claim was possibly a ‘mistake’, but regulation over a system that could turn into a ponzi scheme at any point. Airlines will continue to play fast and loose with blame games and pointing fingers until rules are made to watch over the value being transferred.

  3. I’ve received my headphones but not an e-mail. I’m wondering if they’re targeting the e-mail, and miles, to larger accounts or elite customers.

  4. I only have 56K lifetime miles with AA (1,900 current balance) and I got the email so it’s not likely it was based on elite status or lifetime miles. This was the first time I had even shopped in the AA shopping mall. The only thing I can think of is that I’m a Verizon Wireless customer.

  5. I love increasing my mileage accounts and I certainly appreciate the thought and time bloggers put into these sites. However, everyone knew this was a listing mistake before jumping in to make the purchase (sometimes multiple ones) and the abject greed that many commenters and posters on FlyerTalk are displaying, now that this mistake has been confirmed, is frankly appalling.

  6. Here is a letter I emailed to the AA CEO and some other AA executives. If I don’t received a favorable response I will tighten up the language. I’m not a practicing lawyer but I have a law degree and MBA so I should be able to craft a persuasive argument for receiving the points. The email below is something I threw together quickly when I was frustrated. I know it’s probably too long.

    Dear Sirs,

    First and foremost I want you to know I am a loyal AA customer and have been for quite some time. I look forward to a continued relationship with your airlines and it is my sincere hope this matter can be resolved amicably. I am traveling to Paris on AA in March 2012. My American AAdvantage number is ******.

    On August 10, 2011, purchased two items from the AAdvantage eShopping website last night. I purchased them from Verizon through the AAdvantage eShopping website. The items were two Display Protectors – Glitter Border SILVER w/screen wipe. The Verizon order number is *******. Each item was advertised as receiving 83,871 miles for each item purchased which totals 167,742 mileage points for my order. This was quite a lucrative offer and I was delighted to receive the screen wipes at such a good price and with a considerable bonus. My assumption for the large bonus miles offer was an attempt to sell a surplus of these items.

    I have attached a copy of the screen shot for the advertisement which appeared on the American AAdvantage eShopping website.

    I want to receive your assurances that this offer will be honored. My thoughts are that deceptive competition and innovation in markets around the world has given consumers access to a huge range of choice in goods and services. No matter how a business communicates with its customer, whether it is through websites, emails, packaging, advertising, logos, endorsements or sales pitch, the consumer has a right to receive accurate and truthful messages about the goods and services that they/we buy.

    I believe it makes no difference whether the business intended to mislead or deceive me, the consumer. It is how the conduct of the business affected my thoughts, beliefs, and motivation to purchase the advertised product. My primary motivation for ordering the items was to receive the generous offer from American Airlines.

    Puffery is a term used to describe wildly exaggerated, fanciful or vague claims for a product or service that nobody could possibly treat seriously, and that nobody could reasonably be misled by. Since I have always held American Airlines in a high regard and trusted them for many years, it never occurred to me that the attached advertisement was puffery or an exaggeration.

    If the overall impression left by an advertisement, promotion, quotation, statement or other representation made by a business creates a misleading impression in the consumers mind—such as to the price, value or the quality of any goods and services then the conduct is likely to breach Texas law.

    Could you please tell me when I can expect to receive the points? I have screen shots of the items and advertisement for verification if needed.

    I know you are very busy and I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to read my letter and the attachment.

    Thank you,

    Austin, TX

  7. I missed the boat on this one but did anyone buy a new pre-pay plan? The T&Cs that Verizon and Cartera are relying on specifically say “Reward eligible for reward plans only (new service, family share, add a line, upgrade and prepay).” A new prepay phone and plan on Verizon can be got for as little as $15.88. That would have been a lot more difficult to wriggle out of!

  8. I sent out letters today to AA execs. If they’re not aware they need to be. I am disappointed in how this has been handled so far. Hopefully the letters will bring more decision makers into the picture.

  9. We need more transparency of sites like these… Your promised XYZ but in 8 weeks they say no cake for you

  10. Howdy,

    I got my charger today but no email with the alternate offer — does this mean that I am going to get my 83k miles? Or is this just wishful thinking?




  11. 8/17/11 – any idea what we do if we’ve gotten no email? I’m curious since if it’s only a month for a 2nd purchase for the 2500 additional miles, I’ll soon be out of that realm. Still haven’t opened my headphones.

  12. 8/20, now and still no email for me (although i’ve received a lovely paperweight). suppose i’ll just hang on a bit longer before contacting them since it takes awhile for miles to post. 😉

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