pointless points

Pointless Points: Brownie Points

The other day our girlfriend gave us a ride to the airport to begin one of the many first class journeys to India that we booked during the latest Avios award sale. The entire drive, she kept casually mentioning how much she loves saffron, repeatedly interrupting our attempts to estimate how many bottles of champagne we could consume between LAX and BOM (including both in lounges and inflight).

After the fourth interruption, we asked her why she kept bringing up saffron, and she told us that it would be nice if we brought some back from India. Despite our noting that saffron is widely available in the United States, even pointing out an Indian market clearly visible from the road, she insisted and told us that if we complied we would “score some points.” This, of course, got our attention.

We inquired as to what kind of points she meant, to which she offered a quizzical glance before referring to some mystical program called “Brownie Points.” Intrigued, we asked her if that was a new loyalty program. She again shot us an uninterpretable look and simply said, “It’d better be!” Still confused, we asked how many points we would earn, but she just raised her eyebrows and replied, “Bring me back some saffron and find out.”

She’ll never know the difference.

We are always hesitant to engage in this sort of murky points-earning, but we also have an inexplicable tendency to convince ourselves to do unwise things by repeating the phrase “Go big or go home.” More importantly, we arrived at the airport before we could ask any further questions. She kissed us goodbye, and we were off to our first first class lounge of the journey.



Pointless Points: Weight Watchers PointsPlus

We at Points Envy care deeply about our readers; not enough to hold a points giveaway or do anything that requires us to spend money, but enough that we want to ensure you don’t make the same mistakes in the points game that others have. In this spirit, we have started a series of columns entitled “Pointless Points,” the first of which appears below. You are welcome.

Not so long ago, while researching seven-star hotels in the Maldives, we noticed a banner ad with the word “Points” in big, bold letters next to a picture of a moderately attractive woman. As it would be foolish not to click such a link, we ended up at the website for Weight Watchers’ new PointsPlus program.

For the uninitiated, which we hope is all of you, we’ll describe how the program works. In our experience, to be eligible, you must be overweight and lacking in self-control. Once you join the program and set weight loss goals, you are allotted a number of daily and weekly Weight Watchers points that you “spend” as you consume meals and snacks, each of which is assigned a point value based on its portion size and nutritional content. For example, you may be assigned 47 points a day, and a meal of chicken and rice would count for ten of those points, leaving you 37 points for other foods and drinks, or to save for later.

Who wouldn’t click on this image?

Given the amount of first class food and champagne we’ve consumed over the past decade, we could stand to lose a few pounds. So we signed up and, within one month, we had accumulated over 4,000 points by eating next to nothing (champagne costs zero points). Not soon after, we inquired at our local branch as to how many points it takes to attain elite status in the program, but they didn’t seem to know what we were referring to. After some more confused conversation, including lengthy tangents ranking vegetables and diet sodas, the branch manager revealed the horrifying truth: there is no elite status in the Weight Watchers points program.

The combination of this shocking news and our rapidly failing health caused us to collapse. Upon awakening a few hours later things got even worse, as we were informed that not only is there no elite status, but the Weight Watchers points cannot be redeemed for anything: no flights or hotels, no upgrades, not even a magazine subscription!

Are we asleep in economy class or something? Because this nightmare is the worst ever. Thanks for nothing, PointsPlus. Time to start eating again.