The following is an account of some recent communication I had with Icruise.com. I am providing the complete details for anyone interested in plowing through all of it. In summary, I have done business with Icruise for the past 2 years and never experienced any problems up to this time. Without a doubt, Icruise offers the best redemption value of credit card reward points for anyone interested in cruising. Unfortunately, it would appear, they consider it the customer’s privilege to do business with them, and redemption of reward points is at their whim.
As of now, I am not sure what will become of the 20,000+ reward points I have accumulated with Icruise/MBNA, but I do want anyone considering doing business with Icruise to be aware of the service they might encounter.
On Sat., Jan. 10, I reserved a cruise through Icruise.com. I had attempted to reserve the same cruise a few weeks earlier when it appeared on the Icruise specials listing, only to be informed after I had made my plane reservations that the Icruise posting was in error, and the correct price was actually about 25% higher. Okay; everybody makes mistakes. I waited for a while hoping prices would drop (They were listed slightly lower at Bestpricecruises.com). They didn’t, so I made the reservation, then immediately tried to redeem my travel points from my Icruise/MBNA credit card, only to be informed I had no balance due. I tried several times on Saturday and Sunday and received this same response:
“Dear icruise.com credit card member,
As stated in our FAQ, icruise cannot process icruiseMiles rewards requests for cruises that are fully paid or owe less than the dollar amount of the reward being requested!
Tracking Number c107375139739542 has a balance of $0.00 remaining while you are requesting a $500.00 reward, we are unable to fulfill this redemption at this time. You must now contact and ask for a credit back to your account of a sufficient amount so that a balance greater or equal to $500.00 will stand.
Then you can once again go to https://www.i-cruise.com/redemption.htm and resubmit your reward request.
On Monday, Jan 12, I again tried to redeem the reward points only to receive a message which told me I would be charged a $50 late penalty because my sailing was within 75 days (the 12th was exactly 75 days).
When I contacted an Icruise representative through their live chat line to explain that I had made every effort to use the reward points earlier, she (Debbie Donovan) stood by the penalty charge.
I then sent an email to the customer service department explaining the problem and letting them know I intended to share the outcome of this situation with others on cruise internet boards.
From: Alex Aliksanyan To: Tim Herbst Sent: Monday, January 12, 2004 8:08 PM Subject: Re: customer service?
“Dear Mr. Herbst,
I am confused, if you had no balance due...meaning you made full payment how is it that now you do have a $850 balance. Second, the icruise.com card benefits are a priviliedge (sic) not a right. We are happy to save you 50% of your cruise costs as a reward for your loyalty, instead you threaten icruise. We have a record of every redemption request that is put through and we find no such request at all from you. You tried several times Saturday and Sunday and magically on Monday the balance appeared.
We do more than anyone else in the cruise business to help our customers...like save you 50% off your cruise price. It takes much effort for icruise to process a payment within final payment period...we require the $50 to help us pay for those costs. The alternative would be that we will NOT accept ANY redemptions within 75 days, maybe that would be preferable to you but most of our customers appreciate the efforts that we go through for them...such as being able to collect points until the very last minute.
Please reconsider your threats.
Alex” [Alex is president and CEO of Icruise]
I tried, once again, by email, to clarify the situation:
“No threat intended. Just want you to know of my intentions to share the full and accurate account of my dealings with Icruise. I have been scheduling trips over the internet for quite awhile now, and I have no question it was the Icruise computer that refused to accept my request to redeem points from my credit card on Saturday and Sunday. Obviously, the computer did not recognize my account balance until Monday even though I received a booking confirmation number on Saturday immediately after submitting the order. It was not my error. I even cut and pasted the number from the confirmation email a few times to be sure I was not mistyping it.
I have dealt with Icruise in good faith. I expected the same in return, from the "customer service" representatives, if not from the computer.”
That same evening, I received an automated email informing me final payment was due for the cruise by the following day.
On Tuesday, Jan 13, I attempted to redeem the reward points and take the $50 penalty and once again received a message indicating there was no balance due on the account. I called Icruise and was told my cruise had been cancelled by Debbie without my authority and without informing me.
Later that evening, I received the following email:
Our "customer service" agents have researched your claim that - you made full deposit, which we do not find occurred. Due to your belligerent attitude, please be notified that we will not heretofore accept your business, nor sell any cruises neither now or at any future time to you. Please note that your recently booked cruise C107375139739542 has been canceled and all charged funds credited to your credit card.
I would not deal with Icruise.com, I would deal with MBNA. Theres a little thing called Contract law that the icruise.com and MBNA would be smart to reconsider what they did. When you accepted their credit card and it's conditions they are bound (as well as you are bound) to the contract stated therein. You should contact MBNA and since icruise cancelled your cruise which could cost you money (if it hasn't already) to book another cruise for those dates (or for the airfare your out) you can tell Icruise that you will contatcting MBNA (they have a stake in keeping customers happy and keeping their name associated with reputable companies) also if ou have any monetary loss or if you had to re-book a cruise with a higher overall cost becasue of this cancellation, then you should take them to small claims court. The accumalation of points using a credit card for travel is a regulated business, there a re plently of reward points cards on the market and MBNA happens to be one of the largest issuers of these type of cards. PLease read your contract with the MBNA / icruise card and please don't let this lie in the hands of icruise.com, go to the issuing agent MBNA and have them made aware of this handling of your account, you should havce threated MBNA that you will close your credit card account with them (therefore having them lose all that interest rate profit) and then MBNA will be on your side. Forget dealing with Icruise.com, they sound very unaware of their obligation to to the MBNA credit customer. And they also should be reported to the state attorney general's office for the state that they are registrered to do business in. This information as well as all communication either letter or emails recieved should also be enclosed in all communication with the state attorney general.
after re-reading your complaint another few things you've failed to do, Prove that you submitted full payment on Staurday or Sunday, you have prove that you submitted payment, call MBNA they have records of any transactions on the card, Two the icruise people were acting as your agent on your behalf and they cancelled a cruise without your authority they must have broken some regulation witht he cruise line (you may have to contact the cruise line and tell them that icruise.com did not represent you and they have no authority to cancel your fully paid cruise) you must have some documentation proving you made full payment (your credit card company has the proof). The computer probably doesn't up date on the weekenda so no requested are processed on the weekends. On monday when the credit didn't show up you had to call you credit card company for the tracking number of the credit card payment ( all transaction carry with them a tracking number).You have to prove your self to icruise with back up documentation showing you made final payment. Icruise doesn't process the payment, MBNA does. This whole matter ,akes me mad because the treatmen tyou recieved from that Debbie lady was the worse I've heard in a long time. To get upset about your treat of telling the Meassage boards about your icruise experience causing her to cancel your cruise with out your permission, is a action that she had no right to do. Her agent status is a priviliage not a right. Your accumalting points is just like money, if you earned those points which carry with them a dollar amount when redeemed then they are not a priviliage but something you earned. They calim that they're giving you a 50% off your cruise and that is ther gift to you? Are they crazy, they are not Santa Claus, they're not GIVING you anything, you paying for your cruise and believe me they are making money. They are in business they are not the Red Cross, they aren't a charity. You have to take this to the appropriate organizations. There are Travel agent associations that they may belong to, and I believe these people have to have a license to booke travel. Either way don't deal with underlings and when the President of Icruise is also a Nimrod then As I stated before your real complaint can't be with Icruise but with MBNA becasue they are the issusing agent and they would know if you made payment when you said you did and you shouldn't lose 20,000 points becasue Icruise didn't like your 5th admendment right to free speech, becasue you told them you'd be posting this on a web board. Big deal you should have been getting in touch with the correct parties (i.e MBNA , and they authoritees).
Well, let's show therbst some respect because it sounds like he's been through a lot already. Also, we don't know if therbst was taking action other than posting messages, and that does seem to have been effective in getting the attention of the icruise.com president, and it should. Companies are accountable for their actions and should realize that word gets around in one way or another. therbst, thanks for advising us of this matter so that we can consider this info in our business dealings with icruise.com. I do agree with the previous post that your points have $$ value (just as we frequently read that frequent flyer points are worth 1 or 2 cents per mile. Best wishes to you in the resolution of this matter.