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Latest Northwest promo is lucrative, convoluted

Whining about a promotion that could potentially be worth 100,000 bonus miles might be tantamount to looking a gift horse in the mouth. But sometimes airlines seem intent on inflicting enough pain to offset the gain, forcing consumers to plow through unnecessarily convoluted policies and procedures.

Northwest, a serial offender in this area, has struck again with its latest WorldPerks promotion.

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The specifics of the offer, which Northwest has dubbed the "Mystery Miles" promotion, are as follows:

First, members of Northwest's program must register for the Mystery Miles promo before December 31.

Then they earn points for a variety of WorldPerks transactions between October 1, 2007, and January 31, 2008. There are no fewer than 20 ways to earn points, including flying international business class (130 points), checking in online at nwa.com (five points), purchasing a one-year WorldClubs membership (50 points), and staying with any WorldPerks partner hotel (five points).

And finally, between six and eight weeks following the promotion's end date, the points will be converted into bonus miles and deposited in members' accounts.

Point conversions range from 500 miles for between one and 19 points to a maximum of 100,000 miles for 2,500 or more points. Yep, it actually requires a spreadsheet to describe the conversion levels.

Points, in a mileage program? Points, which at the end of the day have to be converted to miles anyway? Why further complicate what is already an elaborate promotion?

Just how convoluted is the offer? Consider this: It takes 1,551 words to explain the promotion's terms and conditions.

C'mon, Northwest. It's enough that your customers have to jump through hoops to participate in the promotion. Don't force them to jump through additional hoops just to comprehend the offer.

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