Companion Airline Ticket from Promotions in Travel, Dish Pronto, and Dish Network – Worthless Rebate Rewards

Companion Airline Ticket Finally Arrives

Please forgive me for this rant.  Last month I wrote about the 3 Steps to Stress-Free Rebates.  Obviously I haven’t taken my own advice because I’m pretty stressed right now. :) In that posts, I shared that I was waiting, not so patiently, on a free companion airline ticket to arrive from Dish Pronto.  I’d earned this reward for signing up for Dish Network satellite service through Dish Pronto, their sales affiliate.  Well, it finally arrived.  Yay!  …not so fast.

The Rebate is Worthless to Me

I don’t know about you, but when I hear “free companion airline ticket”, I get pretty excited.  Images of Mrs. PT and I hitting the ski slopes or chillin’ on a beach somewhere for half the price go running through my head.  Once I received the registration form for ordering the ticket, I began to see why Dish Pronto offered this deal up so readily.  It’s basically worthless.  The Zone Fare Chart on the registration form explains that to fly from my zone (Zone 5) to any other zone, I’m going to have to pay $400 to $460, plus taxes and fees.  $460!?!  Really?  I can fly anywhere in the US for around $250 max next weekend.  Here’s a picture of the Zone Fare Chart and cities in each zone:

fareschart1.JPG

cities500.JPG

To be fair, there are a couple of trips from Zone 1 and Zone 7 (Florida, not shown) that might provide a hint of savings, but I’m nowhere near those zones, and I’d bet the vast majority of Dish Network customers aren’t either.  Why would they offer this as an incentive to the vast majority of their customers if it provides no real value?  I think I found one reason…it’s cheap.  Really cheap!

Promotions in Travel: The “Route” Cause

A company called Promotions in Travel, whose motto it is to “Motivate, Excite, Reward, and Repeat”, produces these “non-rewarding” companion airline ticket vouchers and sells them to companies like Dish Pronto for $4 a pop to help push products.  Yes, $4!  The sad thing is, I think Dish Pronto paid too much.  I contacted Promotions in Travel at sales@propco.com to let them know of my disappointment with the product.

Dish Network and Dish Pronto: I Need Value

When I placed the order for Dish Network service, I trusted that I was getting something of value for dealing with the biggest affiliate, Dish Pronto, and jumping through all the hoops to get the reward.  Companies like Dish Network should really think twice about the promotions they use to get their products out there.  I also emailed Dish Network parent EchoStar’s Management at executivecustomerservice@echostar.com to express my concern for these types of promotions.

Bottom Line: I Didn’t Do My Research

I admit.  I got suckered.  Remember that step 2 in my 3 Steps to Stress-Free Rebates is to “do some research ahead of time”:

“…if you’re considering buying something with a rebate, odds are someone else has too.  Do a quick search online for any complaints about the rebate or any negative information about the company you are buying from.”

Funny how we sometimes don’t take our own advice.  :)  After I received the reward form in the mail last week and saw that it was produced by Promotions in Travel, I did a Google search for them.  The 3rd search result for Promotions in Travel at the time of this post was an article entitled “Free Companion Ticket: What’s the Real Value of a Free Companion Airline Ticket?”.  In this article, Bob Cowen, The Internet Travel Guru (TM), explains why,

“In most cases, it’s not worth paying the price of a stamp to mail the form to request the “free companion” voucher.”

Bob goes on to do a test run of 10 flight scenarios and states:

“The result: CompanionFare prices had only 35% availability and were higher 80% of the time!  Two lessons to be learned: don’t use the offer of a “free ticket” in deciding to buy something; if your company is considering offering this type of promotion to help sell your products, check-out the real value to your customers.  In this case, 80% of the customers will be disappointed (if my testing is typical).  Is this what you want your customers to think of your company?”

Wow, I couldn’t have said it better myself Bob.  Great information.  Just wish I’d found it sooner.

Have you been tricked into chasing one of these worthless rebate rewards?  Let me hear your story in the comments below.  Also, help spread the word by StumblingUpon or Digging this article so that others can be warned in the future.  Maybe we can stop these types of promotions.

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Last Edited: March 8, 2014 @ 10:49 pm
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a husband and father of two. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or view the Philip Taylor+ Google profile.