Round three: My problems redeeming a United e-certificate

Success! I finally received resolution on my previously blogged about issue redeeming a $200 United Airlines customer appreciation e-certificate. Here are the links to round one and round two and a short recap:

  • The e-certificate wasn’t recognized when I tried making a booking online.
  • On my first call to reservations, the agent had me build a PNR online, she supposedly documented it, extended the ticketing time limit and asked me to use the web page to ask customer relations to research the cert.
  • After not hearing anything for several days, I called back. The PNR vanished.
  • The new agent (web support) built a new reservation and after an hour trying to get the cert to work with her supervisor, came back and said they’d ticket the full fare, then refund my credit card $200.
  • The fare was charged, but no refund ever showed up.
  • The next 45-minute call revealed there was no documentation in my reservation about the cert or promised refund.
  • I forwarded the original e-cert email I received from United to this agent’s supervisor who spent time researching, but eventually came back to say, “give us a few days to research further with customer relations.”
  • The agent mentioned she’d monitor my PNR and would follow up with me the following Monday or Tuesday.

Tuesday passed without hearing anything, so instead of starting from scratch with a new agent by calling – and likely getting another run around – I shot off an email to the supervisor who I previously forwarded the e-cert to in round two. I basically said that I still hadn’t heard back with appropriate resolution and that I expect to get a reply given the multiple failed attempts. I was not going to give up.

A full week went by before I received a response back, which was, “I have talked to two different people in Customer Care and they promise me they will give me an answer in the next couple of days. I appreciate your patience.” (Sigh)

Well… they finally came through. On Thursday, I received an email from Customer Care with not only a new $200 e-cert valid for the next year, but also a note saying they are crediting 20,000 bonus miles to my MileagePlus account. Nope, that’s not a typo… 20,000. And they posted to my account on Friday.

While I lost a few hours of my time and got a ridiculous run around, I’m happy with the resolution and glad I didn’t give up.


  1. Hey Darren – Good to hear… been a loyal UAL customer for 10+ yrs, living in bay area. fly from SFO to JFK/EWR, CHI, BOS LHR primarily for work. Fly to SAN, PSP and DFW for family, and OGG for vacation.

    I’m toying with the idea of giving up this summer – UAL just cant seem to keep up and they barely know I exist. vx flies to all those cities except OGG. Ive been frustrated by VX in the past – primarily because they don’t have a lot of flights and they put up a pretty big fight for changes – and I just don’t have any status. How’s their rewards program/service?

    But I think I might make the switch. What do you think? Any reason not to do it? I’d burn thru my remaining UAL miles to get out to OGG and then switch to Alaska when I run out.

    • @Chris: Well VX would certainly match up pretty well with your planned flying. I’ve honestly never flown them, nor know much about their FF program except they don’t have elite tiers… something I would personally miss for better seating, service, etc. Redemption ability on multiple international carriers is huge to me, personally, so I wouldn’t make such a switch – but your flying pattern is different. I’m not totally clear… are you also considering a switch to Alaska Airlines? If I weren’t so close to million-miler status with United right now, I really think I’d be switching to American… had some great experiences flying with them last year.

  2. can you give me that supervisor’s email address? I have an issue with them leaving me at the airport due to a mechanical failure on one of their aircraft.

    • @David: If I were you, I’d try to contact Customer Care separately. I’m sorry to say that I don’t think it would be appropriate to share this supervisor’s email address given she was uniquely working with me on my issue. I hope you understand.

  3. Yeah. AA seems like a reasonable switch to make – except for the impending bankruptcy. Any reason to be concerned there?

    I wouldn’t switch to Alaska except when I flew out to OGG. They have a nonstop from OAK that’s almost always the cheapest flight avail.

    Agree on VX… those concerns and the less frequent flights seems like the big negatives. I dunno. I think I’m going to give it a shot for the next year and see what I think. I’ll keep ya posted.

    • @Chris: Naw, I wouldn’t worry about the AA bankruptcy from a passenger perspective. If anything, it’s a good thing for us (bonus mile offers, status matches for 1Ks, etc., that are happening now).

  4. Wow! Congrats!
    One 2 separate occasions I spent upwards of 3 hours on the phone trying to ticket using my United certs. On the most recent one, after I was assured my trip had been ticketed and confirmed I get any email saying they need to call and confirm the cert number one more time and that my reservation didn’t go through.

  5. If you had the option to have the $200 cert and not have had to call in at all, would you take that over what you actually had to do?

    And I got an ecert (post 3/3) and it was as quick to redeem as using a credit card (longer maybe). When the confirmation email got here, it had the full price listed, and in very small print a few lines down, it did say that $200 was discounted, made sure to check the CC activity to make sure they charged me the right price, they did.

  6. United told me they matched my Delta Platinum Medallion status… I purchased the tickets and still no status change. Talked to Paul Abril and he refused to let me talk to his supervisor… Why do these people have jobs in customer service?

  7. Dear Sir,
    I would like extension on my e certificate it’s due on 1/16/2013. Promotion code XXXXXX & pin code XXXXXX.will you please give me extension on this e certificate. So I will be a apprcite. My one pass a/c # XXXXXXXX.
    Sushila Shah.

    Note.Pl.Send me new e certificate.If u give me extension.

  8. I ran into the same problem as everyone else and here is what I found. If you have an E-Certificate issued from United that starts with a 101xxxxx then you have to enter it before you submit your search. When booking on about 3/4 way down the page there is a box that says: “(Optional) Do you have an promotional offers to redeem?” This is where you enter your E-Cert number. Then you search and on your results there will be several flights with a blue star, which indicates that a promotional offer is eligible. Once checking it out the dollar value is applied much like it is if you purchase a flight and apply for a credit card at the same time. It took me a while to figure it out. There is one downfall if you are flying with somebody, you have to book the flight individually. These E-Certificates only work if ONLY the person issued the voucher is on the itinerary. Like I said, I was going crazy trying to get this to work, then I noticed that field and tried it! I hope this helps.

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