Misleading portal deal details: how to make sense of them


You would think that email promotional advertisements would be pretty straightforward, right?  You would think that the vendor would want you to know if the deal being offered was good only for today, right?

With online shopping portals, though, the email ads are almost always misleading.  The ads may not be intentionally misleading, but almost everyone I know (including me) has made the same mistake I’m about to describe…

Take a look at an email from the AAdantage eShopping Portal that hit my inbox early this morning.  They are offering a few excellent payout rates such as Sears 9X, Neiman Marcus Last Call 12X, etc.:


The confusing part is where each offer states the end date.  For example, lets zoom in on the Neiman Marcus offer:


The offer above clearly states “Ends 4/20/2015”.  So, you have until then to earn 12 miles per dollar, right?  NopeThat end date represents the 30% off sale.  To find the end date of the portal offer, you have to follow the asterisks to the appropriate footnote.  This one shows three asterisks: “now 12 miles/$***”.  And, looking at the footnotes, we see:

***Extra miles are available through 11:59:59pm ET on 4/17/15.

That’s tomorrow!  And the Sears offer with only two asterisks, is worse.  That offer ends today:

**Extra miles are available through 11:59:59pm ET on 4/16/15.

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[…] The offer says “Valid through 05/31/15”, but I believe that refers to the 10% HP ink deal (see: Misleading portal deal details: how to make sense of them). […]


Funny you should mention this. I’m in a fight with the AAdvantage portal over an order I placed in March where I only received half the points I expected. This is a classic false advertising bait and switch.

In my case there was one asterisk. But on the ad the one asterisk said that “*some brand exclusions apply”. Since I bought the brand that was pictured in the ad I thought I was OK. They are telling me the extra points ended one day before I ordered.

Is it only AAdvantage or do all Cartera portals do this. I’ve never had a problem elsewhere but maybe I’ve been lucky. I’m going to log a BBB case with Cartera just because of this.