It happened quietly within the last several weeks. I never saw it develop or was aware it was coming. On one of my visits to the MileBuzz forum on FlyerTalk, all of a sudden, there it was! The current state of the game… A new forum…
What is it exactly? For our newbies and rookies, manufactured spending is purchasing cash equivalent items with a miles and or points earning credit card. The cash equivalent items, typically gift cards, are then liquidated through ATM withdrawals or other spending after earning the bonus points. It has been going on for years now, but now, it is the prevelant method of padding frequent flyer account balances.
In the past, many old timers will remember buying Amex money orders with their miles and points earning credit cards or coins from the US Mint, redepositing the money orders or coins in their bank accounts and then paying off their credit card accounts with the spending we just manufactured. I used to buy money orders from grocery stores when the Thank You points game was in full swing. I earned enough miles and points to fly for free for five years and parlayed those tickets into more free flights with the bump vouchers I could earn and customer service vouchers when the airlines gave them away like candy. Some scored heavily with the US Post Office. These deals have been around as long as I’ve been in the game. They will continue to pop up now and then.
When one of these golden opportunities ends in the current era, there is lots of hub bub about bloggers killing these bonanzas. People are truly angry that the newest gravy train is gone and take it out on us bloggers. That anger and almost hatred you see in blog comment sections, blogs that allow and actually appear to encourage those type of comments, and in the actual forums themselves are the new state of the game. The new state of the game is the reaction of the players. And a sad state it is…
I’m the old guy in this blogging community, and clearly remember that when a deal died in the past… well it just died and we moved on. When the Mint deal died, for the first time, many blamed the publicity in the papers and news reports. The blogs hadn’t come out yet in force, but that was the first sign of vocal dissatisfaction. Before the Mint deal, we just moved on when a deal went south.
Now we all have a scapegoat in the blogger and the opportunity to scream at somebody, usually anonymously. That seems to be the safest way. Is that new behavior caused by:
- A new and increasingly vocal, in fact, rude at times, group of players that never lived in the old days when we were grateful for the big deals when they came along.
- Some mystical belief that we are all “entitled” to these deals and they belong to us the “entitled ones”?
- Is the landscape different now so that the airlines and hotels don’t need all the promotions they have had in the past? Their planes are now flying full. Hotel occupancy is increasing again and they don’t need to give away the store anymore. We need our fix and are angry when we don’t get it.
- And lastly, that manufactured spend is all we have left for the big score. It even has its own forum now.
The new state of our game is not the manufactured spend, but the way many now play the game. Entitled, rude, and greedy… It is not a pretty sight, and at times, I’m ashamed to be part of it.
I’ll stand up and try to move us back in time to a softer more gentle era. But it will take more than me. Any of you other old timers care to join me?