BT's free flights offer hits turbulence

BT's free flights offer hits turbulence

Summary: Hundreds of broadband customers who are entitled to a free trip to America or Europe have encountered problems. BT insist it isn't a repeat of the Hoover crisis

TOPICS: Networking
BT's offer of free return flights for customers who signed up for one of its consumer broadband packages has hit problems reminiscent of the infamous Hoover free flights fiasco.

Several ZDNet UK readers have complained that they have encountered setbacks when they tried to claim their free economy flight to one of eleven destinations in Europe and the US.

Some say that they were told they weren't able to get flights to the destination of their choice, even though this should have been possible under the terms and conditions of the offer. Others have reported that they have struggled to get any details about the state of their applications.

BT has admitted that some people have encountered difficulties getting their flights. A BT spokesman said on Friday that this was "less than 1 percent" of those who applied, which he said equated to "hundreds" of people.

BT is adamant that the problem isn't on the scale of Hoover's, whose offer in the early 90s of a free flight to America with every purchase worth £100 or more went badly wrong.

But Harry Cichy, who led the fight against Hoover, believes BT could be facing big problems.

Cichy told ZDNet UK that he has been contacted by a significant number of BT customers complaining of problems. He believes that the issue will snowball over the next few weeks.

"There should be more control on free flight offers," said Cichy.

"I was very surprised that a company of BT's pedigree should go to the level of offering free flights to sell its broadband," Cichy added.

There has been concern in the advertising industry about BT's offer.

"We've heard rumours of the promotion going off the rails," said a spokesman for the Institute of Sales Promotion (ISP). He added that ISP had not received any official complaints and wasn't treating it as a significant issue at this stage.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has already received one complaint from a BT customer who claims to have encountered problems with the offer. This complaint is currently being investigated by the ASA.

BT insists that everyone who is entitled to a free flight will get one, and blames the "extreme popularity" of its offer for the hundreds of people who have been hit with problems.

But according to Cichy, one factor is that the travel company handling BT's offer is also processing a similar offer from Sainsbury's, and is struggling to cope.

This company, called Rise Travel, had not returned requests for comment at the time of writing.

Have you been affected by these problems? Let us know, or post a TalkBack below

Topic: Networking

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Not another Hoover. I am still waiting its been weeks.
  • Contact numbers for Rise Travel:
    Tel: 0161 877 113 & 0161 927 3200
    Fax: 0161 233 0220
    To register a complaint:
    Trading Standards: Tel: 0161 234 1555
    The Advertising Standards Authority
    Tel: 020 7580 5555 Fax: 020 7631 3051
  • Complaints can be made to ASA on this offer,
    ( Advertising Standards Authority). Tel: 020 7580 5555
  • You need to tell the ASA, what flights you tried to obtain ( i.e. destination, dates, class etc) and the reason the advertisers have given for not providing you with them. 2 Torrington Place London WC1E 7HW.
  • Complaints on this offer can also be directed to the ISP ( Institute of Sales Promotions) email Director General Edwin Mutton Tel: 020 7837 5340 Arena House 66-68 Pentonville Road Islington London N1 9HS.
  • what was the matter with the hoover offer? I had a great holiday ... it was hoover who got screwed, not the customers...
  • Rise Travel makes statement. After weeks of silence Rise Travel has at last made a coment. " To all those experiencing delays."
    Rise Travel tells us that they succesfully book 50,000 European and Worldwide Flights a year. I would suggest that they will need to book many more tickets to satisfy the promotions and free flights that they are obligated to supply. Under the terms and conditions of the promotions that they are responsible for. The Asa & ISP are receiving complaints on offers organised by Rise Travel.
    Company's that give the promise of Free Flights by way of advertising on products purchased ,must face up to the reality and consquences that the British Public are not fools. Ten years on from the now infamous Hoover Free Flights promotion, customers will not stand for false promises. If applicants adhear to the terms and conditions of ,yours and other promotions we expect our tickets. Without the blame passed on to third parties. Notibly to the Royal Maill. A legal precident was set by Sandy Jack V Hoover, on the subject of;
    " Proof of Postage" many thousands of recorded dlivery items sent to Hoover's Free Flight Offer were checked to prove proof of posting by Sandy Jack. Customers should also remember many things in life are seldom Free. To date I have received many complaints on both the BT & Sainsbury E&J Gallio Free Flight offers, I am concerned ten years post Hoover the same could happen again.
    It is ovious that the redemption levels on both these offers would be very high.
  • Rise Travel comes under Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council boundaries.
    Tel: 0161 912 3845
    I understand they are receiving complaints on Rise Travel & BT Free Flight Offer.
  • MKM Marketing & Promotions are behind these promotions. Have they taken out any Indemnity against over redemption. This was a problem with Hoover.
  • Free Flights problems? Sent your application no reply? Given other destinations? Given wrong dates? Have not been contacted?
    Paid to much in extra charges? and the reason that the advertisers have given for not providing flights.
    Or just want to Whistleblow!
    We want to hear from you.
    Send email to
    With your destination,dates,class etc,advertiser,agent. Here to help no charge.
  • I bought the Daily Mail last year to save tokens for both their European and US free flights. I didn't use the European one in the end, but Landaround Travel, the firm responsible for the offer manged to get me 2 free flights to NY - it took me a few calls and the tickets only arrived the day before I was due to fly, but we made it in the end. I saved enough tokens for 2 people and they gave us 2 flights at similar times, to the same destination, so it was a good free holiday (apart from accommodation). I have just sent off for free tickets through the E&J Gallo wine offer which is being run by Rise Travel, I hope they are as good as Landaround...!
  • Is anyone else having trouble with Rise Travel re. their involvement with the Daily Express
  • collected tokens for daily express 10 pound cruise offer . after sending ing dates of trave had confirfation have not heard anything since no ressponse from 5 five phone calls answers please
  • Daily Express Cruise offer--is it just a scam?
    A also collected tokens,mailed correctly, offered cruise, again paid for next day delivery---and haveheard nothing.
    I'd urge anyone in the same position to compain, complain,complain.
  • A complete travesty. Just spoken to MKM Marketing. Tried to find out when I would be hearing from them, given that I sent my acceptance slip and money before the deadline of 2nd August 2004.
    They informed me that they were sorry but they did not expect such a big response to the offer and as a result( of their incompetence) they have no more spaces available this year.
    I remarked that it sounded a bit like the Hoover situation and they said its not as they intend to honour their cruise offer. They have said that it will now be next year, anytime up until May. They also said that I should hear from them before the end of the year. Great!!!!
    I think the Daily Express should take some responsibility for this. I urge readers to follow in my footstep and abandon the paper.
  • Been waiting since the 2nd August.Offered cruise to Caribbean. Not heard a thing. Phoned the Express helpline but no joy.
    Is this a con?
    Does anyone know the correct phone number for Rise Travel, as the one given is incorrect or they have changed it to avoid cal;ls.
  • I have been getting the runaround from rise travel dealing with the daily express us flights promotion at least 6 promised return calls never received they are an absolute joke anyone else in my position?
    To the MD at Rise Travel & MKM Marketing. If you have nothing to hide let Harry Cichy
    & a team from BBC Watchdog into Free Flight Front, and your opperation & offices at Manchester by Invitation, let us see how it is run.
  • In response to Anthony Roach's posting about the Daily Express
  • Head of Marketing and Promotions.
    No smoke without fire.