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MP Accounts Closed by UA Alleging Fraud/Misuse

MP Accounts Closed by UA Alleging Fraud/Misuse

Old Jan 29, 14, 2:17 pm
  #1  
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Employee MP accounts closed by United for managed by one person

We have a small business with offices in both US and China. When flying employees to the US for business trips, I often recommend United flights and help the employees create and manage their MP accounts (taking care of expiration and award redemption for them). The miles are the employee's to keep. They usually just leave the miles in the accounts. Occasionally one may sponsor another employee's upgrade, or redeem an award ticket for friend/family.

Last week all our employee accounts were closed in a sudden. Only one employee received a warning email from United, saying that the accounts were managed by a single person and that was a violation of the MP rules. A total of about 10-12 employee accounts were all closed and miles confiscated without any warning. When I called MP customer service to ask, the agent said that she could not do anything about it. This is just mad! I look like a fool recommending our employees to fly united because of "better" FF program.
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Old Jan 29, 14, 2:24 pm
  #2  
 
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Whatever reason for having this rule, I see the benefit of protecting me from my company stepping in to manage my account and do whatever it wants with the miles up to and including "sponsoring" another employee's trip/upgrade with the miles earned from my butt in a seat.
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Old Jan 29, 14, 2:27 pm
  #3  
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Originally Posted by B747SP View Post
We have a small business with offices in both US and China. When flying employees to the US for business trips, I often recommend United flights and help the employees create and manage their MP accounts (taking care of expiration and award redemption for them). The miles are the employee's to keep. They usually just leave the miles in the accounts. Occasionally one may sponsor another employee's upgrade, or redeem an award ticket for friend/family.

Last week all our employee accounts were closed in a sudden. Only one employee received a warning email from United, saying that the accounts were managed by a single person and that was a violation of the MP rules. A total of about 10-12 employee accounts were all closed and miles confiscated without any warning. When I called MP customer service to ask, the agent said that she could not do anything about it. This is just mad! I look like a fool recommending our employees to fly united because of "better" FF program.
Is there some reason the employees could not setup and manage their own accounts?
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Old Jan 29, 14, 2:31 pm
  #4  
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Best I can figure is that this paragraph applies:

6. The MileagePlus Program is maintained for the benefit and participation of individual or small business members only. Only individuals and small businesses are eligible for MileagePlus membership, and each individual or small business member may maintain only one account in the Program. Duplicate accounts in the Program will be subject to cancellation and only the applicable credited mileage, excluding any enrollment or other bonus, will be transferred to any remaining account. Only one member may be enrolled per Program account. Program membership account numbers are nontransferable. Only the member named on the account will be entitled access to account information. Account information is United's proprietary information and members may access information only for the purpose of obtaining information about their account. No member may delegate or grant access (via power of attorney, contract, or otherwise) to a third party. Account information may be reproduced for use by the applicable member but must contain copyright and proprietary notices and redistribution in any way requires United's written permission.
But even then they don't say anything about confiscating all the miles.
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Old Jan 29, 14, 2:36 pm
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How did they figure out this was the case I wonder? Was there a lot of activity between accounts?

I typically help manage my wife's, 2 kids and in laws at times accounts, basically because they don't have interest in it and understand all the processes. I sometimes sponsor them with miles and upgrades though not the other way around. Certainly hope this isn't an issue?
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Old Jan 29, 14, 2:38 pm
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I have to admit that this is what I thought United was talking about when they told that other person "In order to keep the MileagePlus program free, we do require that our members self manage their accounts" (http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/unite...-accounts.html).
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Old Jan 29, 14, 2:39 pm
  #7  
 
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Originally Posted by Hadrian35 View Post
Whatever reason for having this rule, I see the benefit of protecting me from my company stepping in to manage my account and do whatever it wants with the miles up to and including "sponsoring" another employee's trip/upgrade with the miles earned from my butt in a seat.
You're making quite a leap. While that is in the realm of possibility, I take the OP's statement at face value that he served only as a delegate to help manage the respective employees' accounts, not that he was using the accounts to his or his business's benefit.

Agree that it is likely the section that sbm12 quoted which is the relevant passage in this case, as it explicitly states that "Only the member named on the account will be entitled access to account information" and that "No member may delegate or grant access (via power of attorney, contract, or otherwise) to a third party."

Of course, I'm also technically in violation of that provision, as I manage my kids' accounts (they're 6 and 8 - they couldn't care less that they even HAVE accounts, lol), and sometimes my wife's and in-laws' online accounts.
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Old Jan 29, 14, 2:44 pm
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Originally Posted by gobluetwo View Post
You're making quite a leap. While that is in the realm of possibility, I take the OP's statement at face value that he served only as a delegate to help manage the respective employees' accounts, not that he was using the accounts to his or his business's benefit.

Agree that it is likely the section that sbm12 quoted which is the relevant passage in this case, as it explicitly states that "Only the member named on the account will be entitled access to account information" and that "No member may delegate or grant access (via power of attorney, contract, or otherwise) to a third party."

Of course, I'm also technically in violation of that provision, as I manage my kids' accounts (they're 6 and 8 - they couldn't care less that they even HAVE accounts, lol), and sometimes my wife's and in-laws' online accounts.
I think you and SBM12 have nailed it. A third party may have been discovered accessing and possibly using/applying/directing some benefits that MP says only the member should be. Although it says nothing about confiscating miles, according to MP T&C #2, violation of any guideline leads to this:

"Participation in the MileagePlus Program (the "Program") is subject to any terms and conditions, rules, regulations, policies and procedures ("Program Rules") that United may, at its discretion, adopt from time to time. United has the sole right to interpret and apply the Program Rules. Any failure to follow Program Rules, Unitedís contract of carriage, Unitedís fare rules, any abuse of Program privileges, any violation of law, rule or regulation, any conduct detrimental to the interests of United, any fraudulent activity or attempted fraudulent activity, or any misrepresentation of any information furnished to United or its affiliates by any member, or anyone else acting on the member's behalf, may result in the termination by United of such memberís membership, the loss or cancellation of accrued mileage, certificates, awards or benefits, or both, or the loss of other Program benefits. Terminated members shall not be eligible to participate in any aspect of the Program, and members whose accounts have been terminated shall not be eligible to enroll with new accounts."
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Old Jan 29, 14, 2:52 pm
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Seriously....thank goodness no Executive Admin ever "manages" the account of a HVF...

This company continues to crack me up about the things they choose to care about.....
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Old Jan 29, 14, 2:54 pm
  #10  
 
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Originally Posted by B747SP View Post
.....saying that the accounts were managed by a single person and that was a violation of the MP rules. .....
How would they know/prove that this is actually the case? If the accounts are accessed from the same IP number that could be the outgoing number of a company where they all work, or in case of managing accounts for family, they would only see the gateway IP number. Or did you call in to discuss things for them?
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Old Jan 29, 14, 2:58 pm
  #11  
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Originally Posted by robbert View Post
How would they know/prove that this is actually the case? If the accounts are accessed from the same IP number that could be the outgoing number of a company where they all work, or in case of managing accounts for family, they would only see the gateway IP number. Or did you call in to discuss things for them?
Do we really think the United IT is adept enough to monitor and manage what IP address transactions are coming from?? And there have to be thousands if not millions of people who do this. Mrs. Milepig manages her director's account for him.
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Old Jan 29, 14, 3:01 pm
  #12  
 
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Originally Posted by B747SP View Post
We have a small business with offices in both US and China. When flying employees to the US for business trips, I often recommend United flights and help the employees create and manage their MP accounts (taking care of expiration and award redemption for them). The miles are the employee's to keep. They usually just leave the miles in the accounts. Occasionally one may sponsor another employee's upgrade, or redeem an award ticket for friend/family.

Last week all our employee accounts were closed in a sudden. Only one employee received a warning email from United, saying that the accounts were managed by a single person and that was a violation of the MP rules. A total of about 10-12 employee accounts were all closed and miles confiscated without any warning. When I called MP customer service to ask, the agent said that she could not do anything about it. This is just mad! I look like a fool recommending our employees to fly united because of "better" FF program.
Do they maintain one account for their own purposes, and another account that they use just for the business travel?
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Old Jan 29, 14, 3:06 pm
  #13  
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Originally Posted by Mbenz View Post
How did they figure out this was the case I wonder? Was there a lot of activity between accounts?

I typically help manage my wife's, 2 kids and in laws at times accounts, basically because they don't have interest in it and understand all the processes. I sometimes sponsor them with miles and upgrades though not the other way around. Certainly hope this isn't an issue?
Originally Posted by goodeats21 View Post
Seriously....thank goodness no Executive Admin ever "manages" the account of a HVF...

This company continues to crack me up about the things they choose to care about.....
This step by UA is absurd. Many folks manage colleagues' accounts (as goodeats points out) and many, many more do so for family members (as Mbenz points out).

Now, having said that, UA might understandably want to draw a line for situations such as the OP's (though even then it might be kind of petty). But in that case, what would be ethical, appropriate and simply good business would be for UA to advise the MP members that in the future it will close accounts and/or deduct miles if the practice of having a colleague manage their accounts continues. To simply cut them off this way is ridiculous.

OP, I'd try to escalate this any way I could, including informing UA of how much $$ it stands to lose if it does not reverse this move, writing to Smisek (I believe some threads here have his email) and other UA executives, and informing UA that you will post/contact as many travel and complaint websites and publications as possible (and then doing so if necessary). You could offer to desist from this dastardly practice if UA restores the accounts and miles.

Hope it all works out.
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Old Jan 29, 14, 3:20 pm
  #14  
 
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Originally Posted by gobluetwo View Post
You're making quite a leap. While that is in the realm of possibility, I take the OP's statement at face value that he served only as a delegate to help manage the respective employees' accounts, not that he was using the accounts to his or his business's benefit.

Agree that it is likely the section that sbm12 quoted which is the relevant passage in this case, as it explicitly states that "Only the member named on the account will be entitled access to account information" and that "No member may delegate or grant access (via power of attorney, contract, or otherwise) to a third party."

Of course, I'm also technically in violation of that provision, as I manage my kids' accounts (they're 6 and 8 - they couldn't care less that they even HAVE accounts, lol), and sometimes my wife's and in-laws' online accounts.
I'm not making any assumption about the OP. I was illustrating how these terms and conditions could save the miles I earn on the company dime from being used to benefit the company I work for. Nothing more, nothing less. Those miles are my unpaid compensation and I wouldn't put it past them to try and yank them one day as a cost cutting measure.

The irony is they would fly me more for work on those forfeited award miles with the new found gains in travel budget lol.
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Old Jan 29, 14, 3:41 pm
  #15  
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No member may delegate or grant access (via power of attorney, contract, or otherwise) to a third party.
That doesn't make any sense. I know myriad executives who have their admins (or me) book their travel. I don't know what planet these guys live on. But on planet Earth, in the United States, many people are far too busy to screw around with their mileage plus accounts .
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