Has Delta made the RIGHT call blocking Award Wallet? Maybe time for lemonade?

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We will receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertiser Disclosure, and advertiser partners, such as American Express, CreditCards.com and others visit this page.

 

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN
 

I have a feeling I am going to regret this post but before you blow your lid, just give me one minute of your time. I respect Gary’s post about this and find Ben’s very funny and it makes his point! Also, know that I do love Award Wallet. I think it is a brilliant idea. But I think Delta may be right along with AA and Southwest with their choice to block AW from accessing customer data. Why?

The amount of Data that AW can mine from their program is very valuable. Also, keep in mind reward programs are at the leisure of the airline. They make the rules. They can change the rules whenever they want. You don’t even own your own points. Now since there are other airlines, if you make customers mad enough, they may just walk (I do agree that from the 15DEC2011 ETV rule change, to the T72 rule, to the devaluation Skymiles mid & high awards Delta has been doing a great job upsetting flyers).

But maybe this is a great opportunity for Award Wallet. The writing is on the wall. How many more programs have to leave before they get the message. The solution? The answer is simple but the work will not be. The airlines are yelling you are accessing their customers data NOT from the customers PC. OK, so AW, do this. Sell the software. Let us load it on our PC’s. Let those of us who want it FREE, see the ads you put up now. For those of us who want to PAY for the software, give us ad-free access to your great software. The airlines can not say BOO about it as we, the users, are accessing OUR data from OUR PC’s. And even when it comes to ads, we are give AW access to OUR PC’s not to the airlines servers. Time for AW to take the lemons and makes some lemonade!

So what do you think? Would you load AW software on your PC? Am I wrong about Delta having the right to block 3rd party sites from accessing their customers’ data? Will you be contacting Delta over this one and sharing your thoughts? Let me know! – Rene

 

Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card
RESERVE/PLATINUM/GOLD
from American Express®
Click here for more information

Share

Join the 1000+ Delta Points daily e-mail subscribers

 

SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

 

30 comments

  1. Gee, I guess Yodlee is in trouble too on that logic…guess every single credit card company, every bank, every investment company, all department stores, car rental companies, etc, are just gonna wake up tomorrow morning and be upset that customers aren’t coming to THEIR site to get their account info…poor Bank of America, their stock price would be at 20 right now not 8 if only that bad and nasty Yodlee for years weren’t harvesting all that data for their customers, etc. And American Airlines, they wouldn’t be in bankrutpcy had they been able to garner all that extra biz by their customers coming to their site… poor Delta, they can take their peso’s and plug up their newly minted oil refinery…[edit]. Southwest, AA, Delta, what a lousy PR battle they’ve chosen.

  2. One of the problems with that desktop solution approach is inefficiency. The websites they scrape change fairly often, so the scrapers need to be tweeked. In a cloud deployment model they can “easily” fix those problems for everyone centrally. If the software is deployed on 100,000 laptops and desktops, they need to update those. They could, perhaps, make that update semi-efficient via a plugin architecture of sorts, but it’s still a pain in the neck and will increase development and support cost.

    How do I know? I maintain my own set of scrapers for the 20+ programs that I care about.

  3. @rene — yes, I track AA and Delta, and no, I am not selling my software, pretty much for the reasons I outlined: I’d have to commit to constant maintenance and of course add hundreds of other programs that sites like AW support that I personally don’t care about.

  4. @Steve yes there are still a few programs that do. I do not know how they are getting away with it. But I still like the idea of tracking them all on MY pc.

  5. “The airlines are yelling you are accessing their customers data NOT from the customers PC.”

    Actually, Award Wallet gave away a browser plugin that was used in accessing AA.com.

    Award Wallet was not accessing American’s servers. Only AAdvantage members were.

    Award Wallet wasn’t storing member account information. That was only being stored on individual member computers.

    None of this was passing through Award Wallet’s servers at all.

    And AA still objected.

    Why do you think they would be ok with downloadable software?

    This is a very customer-unfriendly move. It makes it harder for customers to track their miles, to be engaged in the program. It makes it harder for customers to notice, quickly, big changes in account balances which means it is bad for security! Members aren’t quickly catching problems and bringing those problems to Delta’s attention (eg in time to investigate and cancel improperly booked tickets before those tickets are flown).

    Bad for the airline, bad for customers. Myopic, really.

    Unquestionably, it’s Delta’s airline. And unquestionably they can pay for lawyers to write nastygrams.

    Read the lawyer letter. The trademark infringement claim is totally bogus. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is a really scary piece of legislation, and I’m not an expert in it so I won’t evaluate that claim. But the closing line? “Govern Yourselves Accordingly,” as opposed to, say, “Sincerely.” What kind of people write letters like that? They really seemed to go off the rails.

    I’d love to see Delta Points call them out on that!

    If nothing else, for the incivility of it. What has this airline become? It was one stately, genteel, Southern, elites were “Flying Colonels” after all. Current management is doing real damage, and the people who care most about the airline need to say so.

  6. @Gary – I did read the letter (gosh i am happy I am NOT a lawyer). From what I understand, the AA plugin just grabbed the user data from the PC right but AW still checked from their servers (I could be very wrong on that). Either way, how could any airline stop you, the end user, from accessing your own data from your own pc? Oh I call Delta on a great many things, but I don’t think this is one of them. Now EVT rule, T72 Grrrrrrrrrr – Rene

  7. while i disagree with your contention that Delta is ok doing this, as I posted over in Milepoint I think that desktop software package is the way to go on this for award wallet. Delta has the right to do this, however that does not make it the RIGHT thing to do. As much as they do to [edit upset] their best customers you might think that they would think through the reaction to decisions like this. It is becoming more and more clear that they simply do not care what the customer thinks or does!

  8. Rene, you’re incorrect, the end user’s PC contacted AA.com. The end user’s PC stored the account number, password, account balance. Award Wallet did not ping AA’s servers, they did not receive the user account info, balance, etc. That all resided ONLY on the member’s own computer.

    AA objected to Award Wallet providing software which caused members to access their website in a manner other than intended.

    Would they have prevailed? I mean, would AA or Delta sue Google if the Chrome browser rendered HTML in a manner different than what Delta intended?

    But Google can afford plenty of lawyers, plenty more than Delta or American can afford. But Award Wallet, which provides a service they do not charge members for, cannot.

  9. You know how Delta agents aggressively stand around in kiosks in the airports and HAWK the Delta Skymiles Credit Cards to total strangers walking by…well, wouldn’t surprise me if Delta says you can’t check your Delta account online anymore, you have to physically go to Delta headquarters and pass through their elite line of hawkers so that they can maximize their profit…and did you notice in Delta’s last 10q, there was a line item that they were using the Spirit CEO as a consultant? 🙂

  10. @Gary – thanks for clearing that up for me and this will be interesting to watch. As other readers are saying, there are much larger issues that this touches on. As I said in the post, I very much respect each and every word you type and say! – Rene

  11. Excellent point. Agree completely. liability will be with AW since they are acting as an (un)authorized proxy to Delta’s server. if we had resident software, it would make the connections point to point. Delta and others might still have a problem with this because they could still see this as AW making money off of delta data. to get around this what we could do is even better (in my eyes). AW can created an API for developers. The application that runs on the clients PC would be open source data mining software (browser extension, program, etc). this data can then connect to AW via API to update your account. AW goes from taking full responsibility to just aggregating abstract data. what do you think?

  12. I like your idea. I use award wallet for air lines and hotels, but I won’t put any CC’s on it. If it was on my computer I wouldn’t have any problem adding them. I hope they persue it.

  13. I forgot to mention that the application/extension/etc would be open source and written by developers outside of AW. AW would have no relationship to them and have no responsibility. their program would be an open database that would aggregate your custom data.

  14. Nope. I’m a mobile person. I can’t be tied to one device. With Award Wallet, TripIt, or any other service, I’m not. Once you make me download software and store data locally, I’m no longer device-independent. I’ve stopped caring much about AA since they made a similar move. I’ve traditionally done most of my flying on Delta. I’ve been a Diamond Medallion for as long as that distinction has existed. This may cause me to reevaluate my choice of airline.

  15. Given that the AW AA browser plugin was essentially a program loaded on the users computer ( running in the context of a browser) I doubt any of the suggestions above would stop Delta or AA from sending the lawyers out. It’s all about the data, which is to say its all about the money. Your data in all forms is BIG $$$$ to people. I have no doubt Delta and AA already sell our data to aggragrators and they do not like competition. The only way for AW to stay in this came is to pony up to the owners of your data ( I know, an oxymoron ).

  16. Well suddenly instead of a website to support, you’ve got desktop program support for WinBlowz, MacOS, and probably apps for umpteen Android variants. Yeah I’d do it, but it’s a lot more tedious all around.

    And Delta would probably still not allow it. They want you on THEIR website, not some front-end that gives you a different experience.

  17. I really don’t see how AW storing your username and pin offline is any different than the little check box on the websites to store the same info in your browser. This whole thing [edit].

  18. Make the software available for the iPad, etc. Then be sure the PC version syncs w/ the tablet version.

  19. Here’s the thing, Rene. Delta, if they’re concerned about security, could make your data available. My banks do it (and I have several). In particular, ING Direct has a great system where 3rd parties gain limited, read-only access to account and transaction information. That’s how ING deals with the likes of Mint.com.

    Why couldn’t Delta offer that? Because Delta isn’t concerned about helping customers. Delta didn’t make suggestions to improve things. That’s not AwardWallet’s problem…

  20. First I think delta would have a hard time making the case that I do not own the points and that they don’t have value. Delta currently holds a $4.3 billion liability for outstanding skymiles, which includes the skymiles sold to Amex to give out to cardholders. Delta controls how miles can be redeemed, that’s all.

  21. As some folks mentioned it already – we did this with AA and we still got shut down, we can make it possible for our users to track their Delta accounts via a browser extension tomorrow. This is a no brainer now that we did it for AA. As a result users would accessing the Delta site form their own browser. So far Delta has been refusing to talk to us about it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *