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Guarding Your Money for the Holidays

joe-mcdaniel
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Joe McDaniel is one of Southwest's Security Specialists  A big part of the Holiday Season is visiting family, and travel is a popular gift.  As a member of Southwest's Security Team for the past seven years, I want to make sure you have all of the facts to consider when making your buying decisions this year. I have talked with countless Customers who chose to purchase Southwest Airlines' tickets (paper and electronic), southwestgiftcardsTM, and Rapid Rewards Awards from unknown, unaffiliated third parties or from a "friend of a friend".  Far too often, the victimized Customers are left stranded at the airport because they chose not to deal directly with the airline or a known travel partner.  When I ask them, "Who did you pay?" the response is usually someone other than Southwest Airlines.  Several recent cases I have investigated involved people who wired money to unknown third parties in Indonesia and Russia.   When I ask why they chose to purchase the reservation or the southwestgiftcard from an unknown third party, the usual response is, "To save some money."  While there is nothing wrong with saving money, especially around the Holidays, people who respond to ads like these often end up paying for the trip twice, or jeopardizing their travel plans altogether.  For those who just can't seem to let a "too good to be true" bargain pass by, it is important to understand the risks involved when responding to an unknown third party that posted a random ad on the web or in a newspaper.  Below are some Southwest Airlines' policies and important tips that I would like you to remember when you are shopping/surfing for discounted airline travel.  These policies and tips will help prevent your travel from being interrupted.   
  • Avoid purchasing reservations, southwestgiftcards, or Rapid Rewards Awards from auction or "garage sale" websites, newspaper classified ads, or from any "travel agent" who can not be verified. 
  • Southwest reserves the right to cancel or refund any reservation, southwestgiftcard, or travel voucher if it was purchased or obtained fraudulently.
  • It is against Southwest Airlines' policy to buy or sell Rapid Rewards Awards
  • To maintain the integrity of your ticketless transaction, purchase your reservations directly from the airline or from a verifiable travel agency.
  • For southwestgiftcards, we recommend that you purchase them directly from Southwest Airlines, or from an approved third party vendor.
  • Many Southwest Airlines tickets and southwestgiftcards are currently being sold on web sites and in newspapers far below face or market value. Ask yourself, "Why?"
  • Avoid wiring funds to unknown third parties. This method of payment offers no protection if you become a victim.
Should you purchase a reservation, a southwestgiftcard, a Rapid Rewards Award, or a travel voucher from an unknown third party, we can not guarantee the validity or security of that purchase.  If you have any concerns about a questionable advertisement or sale related to Southwest Airlines, please contact us directly.  I would like for every current and potential Southwest Airlines' Customer to have a positive experience during and after their reservation purchase. Just remember, if an advertisement from an unknown third party catches your eye and it "looks too good to be true" then it probably is!  Have a happy, safe and prosperous Holiday Season!  Joe McDaniel
17 Comments
sally1
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Additional information- I work with the southwestgiftcard and lately there has been an e-mail circulating about purchasing Gift Cards of any kind from stores indicating how the "value" of the card can be stolen. This might have been an issue several years ago, but if a gift card is enclosed in a "carrier" you should be fine purchasing them from a reputable grocery or retail outlet! Just wanted to nip that in the bud prior to the holidays!
Anonymous3521
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There is a very large number of Rapid Rewards tickets (green passes too) being sold on eBay on a daily basis. Is there anyone from Headquarters that checks up on these? eBay will remove them if reported, but it takes a while and they don't always get them all.
Lewis_Southerby
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I am a big fan of Southwest Airlines but, with all due respect, please don't try to freighten me or any of the other good folks that read this blog with your "horror stories" about Southwest ticket/credit scams. There are many, many third-party transactions involving Southwest Airlines credit that take place every day that leave both seller and buyer satisfied. Sure, there are some scams out there but those are few and very far between compared to those that work out just fine for all parties involved. Listen, Mr. McDaniel and the others concerned with revenue management at Southwest -- I know you would love for all of our unused credit to expire since this helps pad the company's bottom line (especially as your fuel hedges dwindle) but this blog entry's scare tactics do little to promote and encourage the customer-centric values upon which every nook and cranny of this airline is based.
FriendofBlogBoy
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Mr. Southerby, With all due respect, I don't view this blog entry by Mr. McDaniel as anything other than an effort to offer some advice to people to try to prevent folks from being defrauded. Whether we are discussing a "bootleg" video, a scalped football or event ticket, or a Southwest Rapid Reward ticket from an unverified source, it strikes me that Mr. McDaniel attempt to breathe new life into the old expression, "caveat emptor", or "let the buyer beware", is an appropriate warning. Too often, people try to get such a good deal that they shortcut the safeguards of the marketplace. The other old saying, "you get what you pay for" also comes into play in some circumstances. The special diamond-encrusted "Rolex" watch being offered for sale in Times Square for $10.00 should arouse great suspicion, but I've watched people buying them as fast as they could pull out their wallets. Although I was unaware that Rapid Rewards tickets were available on eBay, it doesn't really surprise me. However, I do appreciate the spirit of concern that was behind Mr. McDaniel's posting, and I believe he is genuinely trying to protect Southwest Airlines Customers from a bad experience. Saving inordinate amounts of money can come back to bite you the day before Christmas when you and your family are denied boarding after presenting fraudulent tickets. On the second matter, while I agree that unclaimed Rapid Rewards (or any other affinity program) "free tickets" are a liability sort of dangling out there, I really don't think the management of Southwest sits around each morning eagerly tallying up how many freebies expired overnight and are off the books. There is a one-year expiration date on award tickets at Southwest, as opposed to some airlines that allow the miles to just continue to accumulate virtually indefinitely. I actually have perceived SWA Employees being happy to see "free" passengers showing up, because they know that each of us that earns them paid money for several flights already and that we represent real income. Best wishes to you, Mr. Southerby, and to you, Mr. McDaniel, THANK YOU for reminding folks of the other old expression: "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!" Kim
Richard_Morgan
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To sum things up in a perspective. Southwest Airlines rewards frequent flyers with sky miles, gives out Green Passes to passengers as gestures of goodwill, and sell giftcards. These forms of payment are not given to anyone by Southwest Airlines for you to turn around and sell it for monetary gain. I would be very upset if I gave someone a free ticket and the next day it was up for sale in a classified Ad. We all know that there are brokers and scam artist out there making a good living selling Rapid Reward, Green Passes and GiftCards. The bottom line is that if people would use these forms of payment in the way that they were intended, it would put the brokers and scam artist out of business.
joe-mcdaniel
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Rachel, Thanks for your question and for your interest in Rapid Rewards Award abuse. The answer is yes. Headquarters, specifically the Rapid Rewards Department, has a team devoted to monitoring online auction sites for Award abuse. Also, our Legal Department works together with the Award Abuse team in an effort to remove any unwanted Rapid Rewards posting from a website.
Paula_Palosika
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In response to Rapid Reward purchases and Green Pass, all I have to say is sometimes it works and sometimes you get burned. I have purchased both from various places like ebay and craigslist but for this Christmas season I got scammed. I would assume she / he was a passenger or even an employee and they are out to scam alot of people. I have posted warning on craigslist but there are people who are still going for it and getting burned like myself. Getting scammed is one thing but making a reservation and leading a person to believe the green pass vouchers are coming and then not being able to book a seat on the flight is just down right cruel and wrong. If this comment can help others it is to tell them please meet the person and do not do transactions thinking you are going to save money. It cost me twice as much and all I have are tickets to get here but not home. Therefore, money lost and no famioy for Christmas. :-
Dave40
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Well now I'm just angry. Ebay cancelled my auction, so instead of getting $300+ for the tickets, I will have to settle for $250 each from another online broker. These were not from frequent travel, they were from Amex points. They were not "given to me". Besides, if someone "gives" you something, it should be yours to do with as you wish. Sell it, smoke it, lose it, wipe up spills with it, use it, it shouldn't matter. This riduculous policy will still result in me selling my ticket, and less likely to fly SWA.
Steve_Josephson
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I know the Rapid Rewards policy is the prerogative of management; however, I would have thought my wife and I would be travelers SW would want to encourage. Apparently not! For us, the present policy does you a disservice. Today I learned, despite my expectations, that we will NEVER earn a SW award flight. We fly 2 or 3 times a year to various destinations. Five years ago, we Ã
Hans
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I don't think the way the Rapid Rewards program works is a secret, it didn't take me long to figure out that I didn't fly enough to earn anything. All the rules are available on the website. I'm still happy to fly SWA, it's cheap and friendly, and goes non-stop to where I want to go. I'm also quite sure that the tickets you are "given" are given with rules and stipulations, so you may do what you like with them *in accordance with those rules and stipulations.* Look into the rules first, and you'll avoid disapointment.
Chester_White
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I would like to know if it is specifically forbidden for one person to sell a legitimate WN giftcard to another. I am not asking whether you like it, or recommend it, or approve of it. If I have a WN giftcard with value still on it, purchased from someone else, will WN honor it?
Anonymous_2112
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Well, there are so many things to discuss here. First, let me say, I love SWA. They rock. But they do say I EARN a free flight for flying with them. So, if I earned it, it is not a gift. Let's get that out the way now. And if I choose to sell my earnings, it's my business. If I get stocks from my employer, they dont put rules on me that I cant sell them! If they did, they would haqve no value and it would no longer be a reward. It would be trash. Because things of no value are garbage. Second, you are a putz if you were unable to do the math before you flew on SWA and could not figure out the RR program. Theres is something you need to look into, and it is called reading classes. You think it is tough now? Where were you back int he days when you only had a year to make those 8 round trip flights?? lol Third, I can almost guarantee you SWA has a bean counter who tracks expired rewards. While it may be someone who pushes a button on a computer, the end result is expired rewards are discussed at the upper mgmt meetings. People will always be willing to buy these, you just have to buy local and use websites that allow you to deal with people who are registered and or verified. It's even better if they will meet face to face like at starbucks and set the flight up for you. You just have to use your brains!
Can_not_say_bec
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I use my SW Visa all the time. I have gotten over 8 tickets. When Southwest "forgot" to have their planes fixed and grounded 41 of them, I decided to sell my voucher on EBAY. It was immediately pulled by Vero and SW airlines. I paid a lot of interest to get these rewards, and I think SW has some nerve Then they sent me the most obnouxious letter you have ever seen. I am going to give them away, and Cancel my card, and never, ever fly these NaSTY PEOPLE AGAIN!
Anonymous1556
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I just received my own nasty letter and I have to say that Southwest should be embarassed. I have always been a fan.......and for the last 6 years I have had 200 credits a year. I have been flying Southwest because they are the best airline and make it as easy to fly to my locations as possible in this day and age. However, I'm seriously considering switching based on the latest letter stating that I can't sell my "EARNED" Rapid Rewards coupon and they'll be "monitoring" me. If I "EARNED" it, what gives them the right to make such a claim? I use many of my coupons but not all based on the availability of open seats.......which by the way has been significantly dwindling over the past 2 years. And based on all the business I've provided them......if I need to unload the ticket because there are no flights available to use my EARNED coupon.........I sure as hell want to be compensated for that fact.
Jim_Bob
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I have to agree this is an award and as such if I want to use it, sell it, wipe the floor with it that is my choice. You can give away but even then Southwest sends out a nasty note, have one now. I have for many years been a very loyal flyer for work. I sometimes would fly Southwest even though they were a good hour or more from their airport to my destination. I do travel for work a lot and would enjoy being able to use the awards for a nice vacation yet I cannot due to both schedule and expense. I have in the past made arrangements to only fly Southwest yet now with 2 nasty notes from them and a threat of suspension I guess that after what I have booked I will go back to NorthWorst or ScamNited. At least with them I can gift my miles to someone or use them for something other than an award that expires. Thank you Southwest for changing my mind about you. Yes you might have lost a little money when I sell a ticket yet as an A lister and companion pass holder for many years how much money will you loose when we all decide to fly someone else! A word of caution The Customer is Always Right! Even when he isn't he is still the customer! An ex boss put it best, " We tried real hard to get these customers, let's just try not to piss them off!"
Anonymous256
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@Jim Bob: wow, "The Customer is Always Right! Even when he isn't he is still the customer! " deluded people like you need to take to walking. with an attitude like this you can never be happy. i don't know what kind of work you do, but if your customers are unreasonable (like yourself) i dont know how you indulge them. sure, go move to northworst or scamnited, i'm sure they'll send you off too. also, its this 'customer is king' attitude that spoils people and the economy.
Anonymous1891
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As a law enforcement officer, who has personally investigated a number of travel voucher scams, please be VERY careful about purchasing greenpasses or other travel vouchers via craigslist, ebay, or the like. There are many crooks out there that are using this scam to sell tickets that are either fraudulent or just plain non-existent. There are folks who are legitimately selling airline vouchers; however, please proceed with caution as there are many, many sellers who are not legitimate.