I had the honour and privilege to work with the CBC Marketplace team in Toronto last month to put together a story about Air Miles and its unpopular expiry policy. But then, just a day before the episode was to go live, Air Miles backed down and cancelled its expiry policy effective immediately.

The CBC team scrambled to re-write the ending and put together a fantastic show that perfectly captured the frustration of Air Miles collectors:

What viewers didn’t see was a lengthy discussion we had about how Air Miles owner LoyaltyOne, and its parent company, Texas-based Alliance Data, routinely discussed “pulling levers” to keep the level of reward redemptions within a profitable range. These levers may have included intentionally frustrating Air Miles collectors with a slow, hard to navigate website, and under-staffed call centre.

Over on Rewards Cards Canada I revealed what you didn’t see on Marketplace: The People vs. Air Miles. What collectors can expect next is to see Air Miles increase the number of reward miles needed to redeem for both cash rewards and dream rewards.

That’s why The Globe and Mail’s Rob Carrick says this is no victory for Air Miles collectors, despite demonstrating “some of clumsiest brand management ever seen in this country.”

This Week’s Recap:

On Monday I looked at Ontario’s proposed bill to ban rewards points from expiring in much the same way the Consumer Protection Act prevents gift cards from expiring.

Wednesday’s post was about preparing for retirement and understanding new spending patterns in retirement.

And on Friday Marie continued her financial planning for couples series with a look at starting to invest.

Weekend Reading:

Speaking of investing, Preet Banerjee started a video series for people who want to learn about investing, starting from the very basics:

Investing is all about good behaviour and Inc.com lists six cognitive biases that are messing up your decision making.

Too many workers are out to lunch on defined contribution pension plans, with employees expecting an average rate of return of 17.3%!

The Canadian Couch Potato has a podcast! The inaugural episode features Justin Bender and the two chat about their DIY investing service. Hats off the the segment on “bad investment advice”.

Ron Lieber asks one money question to rule them all: How much is enough?

Appropriate for the holiday season – here’s five ways to hardwire children for a lifetime of giving.

Carl Richards says to stop spending based on other people’s wealth:

“We base our decisions about how we spend our money on how we think our income compares with those around us and what we’ve spent in the past. But unless our neighbors have shared their tax returns, we don’t know their real income. Our financial decisions could easily be based entirely on fiction.”

Michael James shares his thoughts on the real reason why a big mortgage is a bad idea.

Should I start CPP early? The Findependence Hub shares some real-life examples.

Cable companies are having a laugh at our expense after CRTC forced them to offer “skinny basic” packages and now pick-and-pay channels that nobody wants.

An incredible story about how a wealthy businessman somehow hid $400M from his wife as they were about to divorce.

Rob Carrick argues in favour of ditching your car after listing several rising costs including toll roads, gasoline prices, car loans, and changing technologies. The crazy car loans stuck out for me:

“A shocking 56 per cent of new vehicle loans today have a term of seven or more years.”

Finally, top personal finance experts share their best and worst tips to budget for the holidays. I’m with Preet, tally up the amount you spend on Christmas and divide it by 48. There’s your weekly savings target for next year.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


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