Photo linked from: staticflickr.com
Last week my friend Greg, THE Frequent Miler, put up a post about the ethics of the game we play. There are lines he will not cross and his wife acts as his moral compass when it comes to just what he will do to earn a point or two.
I too have lines I will never cross. I will never buy something that I never intend to use and will only return. I will never knowingly, and IMO fraudulently, manipulate computer code to get a deal. I think this is both wrong and could result in very bad consequences for you, the reader. I would not sleep at night knowing I had suggested this is the best course of action and then later find out you say got FR’ed (that is “financial reviewed”) by AMEX or even worse, had Chase close your account and ban you from ever having a Chase account again (do you know how much, long term, that could cost you?)!
As far as Delta goes, some DM or PM flyers try to sell or “trade” GOLD or SILVER medallion status on ebay and other places. While you are allowed to give away the status to anyone you want, selling or “trading” it is against Delta’s rules and could result in the DM/PM having their Skymiles account closed forever and all their Skymiles wiped out as well as any booked Skymiles tickets (the same for the one buying the status too)!
So that takes me to the point of today’s post. I am a travel enthusiast. What does that mean vs. a hacker? A hacker will do all of the above. As long as it does not land him/her in jail, it is AOK; a hacker takes risks! An enthusiast, on the other hand, reads rules. They read T&C. They find out EVERYTHING they can do that is inside the accepted terms of the program. They may USE these rules in ways the organizer never ever intended the program to be used, but that is not the fault of an enthusiast. Like the famous “pudding guy”, who collected millions from buying pudding tops and redeeming them for miles, if you have followed the rules you are, in my eyes, just doing what the rules say. This is much like golf:
For those who do not know or care about golf and the rules of golf, a non-fixed item, like say a rock, not in a bunker, can be moved as a loose impediment to your swing. Tiger got a bunch of fans to move a very BIG loose impediment to his swing, the BOLDER you see above. It was not fixed, and thus could be moved. Some say that was cheating. Tiger asked the rules offical, and was told that he was following the rules.
To me, with points, same thing. There are SO many points we can all collect, make and earn that are all, in this same way, inside the rules. Sure, we could make even more doing it the other way, but why? Why take the risk? There are enough points to go around that we do not need to take the step that could result in huge penalties to us and, to me anyway, result in the sleepless night feeling dirty and that I have “done wrong”. I have NO such reservations when I can say, “all I did was follow the rules you put in place!” You know, if a program did not want us to do this or that this way, they should have put that in the T&C.
Much the same thing goes for what I will print on the blog. I have stated before, and still stand by this, that if you can reproduce it I will blog about it. Are there exceptions? Sure, there are things I will only speak about at a “DO” or “FTU”. Why? Not because blogging about them would be wrong, it is just that there are many things that you may do that will not result in the “same” outcome for you or me or the “next guy”. Or, maybe a reader has sent me something or told me something from an internal document from some company. This information can not be verified and the company will never ever say this is the rule or will point to the public T&C. So, blogging about this will result in nothing but frustration and mixed results at best! At a “DO”, there are tips that are shared that those in attendance understand they are a YMMV kind of situation.
What about “free trips”? Rick, THE Frugal Travel Guy, does not accept free trips paid for by say a hotel or airline. I am the same way. Other bloggers will take a 1st class ticket and a huge suite with no other promise that to write about the experience. I have not accepted these nor will I; I will and do accept an upgrade if I have booked a ticket or trip or room. A double standard? I say no, but others may not. I also accept free stuff from companies to give away on the blog to readers. To me if I 100% give it away to you, then that is fine by me.
So what do you think? Are you a travel hacker or enthusiast? Are there lines you will or will not cross? Are there enough points coming in that you are still earning more points that you can burn each year? You tell me (and keep in mind this blog is PG) – René