Was it an attempt at polygamy or just wanderlust?
Married couples and other travelers found a promotion on US dating site Match.com so irresistible that they signed up in such numbers that the site canceled subscriptions of what it deemed fraudulent accounts, the Wall Street Journal reports (paywall).
The bait: British Airways frequent-flyer points. For every dollar spent on Match.com, would-be love-seekers would get 150 Avios points and users on eHarmony would get 130 per dollar. A $215 subscription to Match equaled 32,250 points. That’s a much better deal than other British Airways’ promotions, such as 6 Avios points for every dollar spent on Nike’s US site. So mileage junkies were understandably smitten with the Match promotion.
Match told Quartz a third-party marketing partner, with whom it has terminated its relationship, created the incentive without the dating site’s knowledge, “which led to people subscribing just to get the miles without any intention to use Match.” The promotion was pulled as a result. Match declined to name the third party, citing a confidentiality clause in its agreement.
“It became clear because people weren’t actually using the service after purchasing a subscription,” spokeswoman Amy Canaday told Quartz. eHarmony told the WSJ married people created multiple profiles, which is prohibited.
Match offered refunds and cancelled accounts. The British Airways miles earned on qualifying accounts would still be honored, according to the WSJ.
It isn’t the first time a mileage promotion has made grown-ups giddy, particularly the frequent-flyer obsessives. In 2000, American Airlines tried giving away 100 miles with the purchase of a box of Kellogg’s cereal and shoppers suddenly developed a Corn Flakes addiction. (The promotion wasn’t enough to save the cereal industry though.)
Miles fever probably won’t burn out. Airlines have made it harder to earn points, rewarding passengers by how much they spend on their tickets, not by how far they travel. A marketing manager may want to think twice before dangling free miles in front of the public.