Sometimes it is hard to find an example of a broken process, but fortunately, USAir made it very easy for me. Yesterday, I get an e-mail from them informing them that I had lost my 50,000+ miles due to inactivity. Certainly, it is hard to fly USAir direct to many of the cities I fly out of St. Louis, but I would have used the miles for something (if I knew I was going to lose them).
Usually, I use them to visit my wife's grandparents in Philly. Since her grandmother was recently put in hospice care, I imagined we would be using them soon. I could argue quite strongly about whether they should be able to simply take miles that I have earned, but I won't go down that path.
Where I see the failure is in their communication to me. I am sure I got some message about the change in program status from 36 months of inactivity to 18 months of inactivity. It was probably buried in some other communication (or maybe I never got it). But, they clearly could have informed me 3 months before the miles expired or 30 days before the miles expired. Now, they simply get to hold my feet to the fire and force me to pay money for my miles, fly them to get the miles, or get one of their credit cards.
So, what can I do? I don't know. Maybe, I can get the Cranky Flier blog or some other advocates to bang on USAir? Maybe, their SVP of customer service (Anthony Mule) will respond to my nice e-mail about helping me? I simply asked them to extend this 30 days so I could use the tickets (likely for a funeral). Maybe, I need to try someone else like their VP of Marketing (Travis Christ) or another executive? I tried the call center which was nice enough, but (supposedly) not empowered to override this.
Anyways, just an example of a big company failing to care about their customers and ignoring common sense to proactively inform them when it benefits them.