“Spam” from American Express – I found the catch

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how I got a free offer from American Express wherein if I subscribed to a magazine, they would provide me with a buy-one-get-one free airline ticket.  I thought that this sounded too good to be true so I wondered what the catch was.  I checked the Terms and Conditions and everything looked legitimate.  I was curious and thought that this was a good deal, the only problem is that Amex would now continue to send me annoying offers.  I didn’t want to opt out completely because I did think that this travel deal was a good one, seeing as how I like to travel.

Well, as it turns out, I figured out what the catch is.  This travel voucher is kind of a rip-off.

Why do I say this?  Well, they divide up the country into zones where certain cities are in one of seven zones.  They then have a chart that shows you how much the flight would cost between zones.  So, if Seattle is in Zone 4 and Atlanta is in Zone 1, then it is xx amount of dollars.  That’s how much air fare you pay for the ticket + companion ticket.  Each zone has several cities in it.

The catch is that the airfare between zones is about double the cost you would pay for a regular airfare between those two cities.  Here are some examples for travel on April 16, 2011 and returning April 24, 2011 (for two people):

Seattle to Atlanta on the complimentary ticket: $744 excluding taxes and fees (all subsequent quotes will exclude taxes and fees)
Seattle to Atlanta on Orbitz: $698

Seattle to Boston on the complimentary ticket: $719
Seattle to Boston on Orbitz: $618

Seattle to Tampa on the complimentary ticket: $625
Seattle to Tampa on Orbitz: $700 (this one is cheaper)

Seattle to Denver on the complimentary ticket: $625
Seattle to Denver on Orbitz: $410

Seattle to Los Angeles on the complimentary ticket: $469
Seattle to Los Angeles on Orbitz: $398

You can see that the odd trip here or there is cheaper if we exclude taxes and fees, but only barely.  And if we include those fees, then the complimentary ticket would then exceed the cost.  Otherwise, the companion ticket is more expensive.  So, to anyone reading this blog, if you get an offer from companionticketinfo.com, then don’t go for it.  You’re better off using an online booking service.

Just like how ordering from spam always has a catch (stock tips are fake, the pharmaceuticals don’t work, the antennae booster doesn’t improve your reception, your cheap degree isn’t recognized), even offers that you get in the mail are not worth it.  I am going to call up the magazines and cancel my subscription, and then call up Amex and get them to stop sending me offers.  Now that I have a real taste of the types of things they offer me, I will use this as a precedent for the quality all future offers.

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