Back in December some customers of Party Poker received e-mails inviting them to participate in a special promotion called “Points Mean Cash.” The promotion seemed fairly simple: if you earn at least 5,000 PartyPoints from December 15 through January 31, you will earn cash prizes. “The more points you pick up, the more cash you’ll win – no strings attached,” boasted the Points Mean Cash page.
Unfortunately for some, the “no strings attached” part did not ring true. According to a player on the Two Plus Two poker forums, the catch was that the points he earned were redeemed for the cash, even though the terms and conditions of the promotion never stated that they would be. This might not have been a problem had it not been for the fact that Party Poker’s standard PartyPoints rewards program already offered a points for cash exchange, one that to many was better than the Points Mean Cash promotion. What made the special promotion so attractive was that most people believed that they would get the cash and retain their PartyPoints.
To give an example, to receive the maximum prize of $1,000, a player would need to earn 15,000 PartyPoints during the promotional period. Normally, 12,000 PartyPoints could be exchanged for either $500 cash or a $1,000 bonus. While the bonus did have playthrough requirements attached to it, the player who posted about the problem knew he would be playing enough to earn the bonus, anyway, so he considered the bonus the same as straight cash. Thus, Party Poker’s normal deal would have gotten him that $1,000 bonus, plus another $200 in bonuses for the extra 3,000 PartyPoints (the difference between the 12,000 and the 15,000 needed for the $1,000 in the Points Mean Cash promo). If the terms and conditions would have said that the PartyPoints would be surrendered in order to receive the cash, he would not have participated.
To be fair to Party Poker, I could see how many players would prefer the Points Mean Cash promotion, as they would get more instant cash with their points, rather than bonuses that still have to be worked off.  But for heavy volume players, the bonuses are more valuable.
The player who posted about this both telephoned and e-mailed Party Poker customer support, and both times he was told that the PartyPoints would never leave his account. “Once you earn Party Points towards Points Mean Cash promotion, you will still retain those Party Points and they will not be exchanged for Cash,” wrote the representative.
Of course, when the player completed the promo, he not only had the 15,000 points removed from his account, but he had also lost an additional 4,500. He wrote to Party Poker and was told that it said in the terms and conditions that he would be exchanging the points, not keeping them. Lo and behold, Party Poker had actually changed the rules on the website to reflect this. A representative even cited a clause in Party Poker’s standard promotional terms and conditions which read that the rules could be changed at any time.
The player felt betrayed by this, and he had every right to feel that way. Party Poker had been sneaky, editing the rules mid-promo. While it had the right to do so, this was an act that was most definitely not in the best interest of customer service. As the player said, Party Poker was acting “in bad faith.”
Fortunately, Party Poker came to its senses in hearing the complaints and, while it still believed that it was clear that the points were to be deducted from players’ accounts, it acknowledged that there was a misunderstanding. As such, Party Poker refunded all PartyPoints and still allowed players to keep the money earned from the promotion. The resolution was announced seven hours after the player posted his story on the message forum.
While I do not like the terms and conditions change mid-stream, I once again must praise Party Poker for understanding that regardless of who it thought was in the wrong, it needed to make its customers happy. Mistakes and misunderstandings happen. Most of the time, we can live with them. It is how the issues are addressed and remedied that is important and shows the character of an organization. We would prefer that problems never arise, but if they do, it is good to know that an online poker room can be reasonable.

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