I thought that some Insiders might find the following correspondence between Customer Care executives and myself interesting and informative. The context and substance is, I hope, self-explanatory.
1. My initial query:
">Could you clarify the basis on which hotels operated by Marriott Itl offer "advance purchase rates? In particular, I would like clarification of the principles that determine when a hotel bills the customer for an advance purchase reservation. This can be an important fact when purchase is denominated in a currency different to that which the customer would normally pay; in other words, when an exchange rate calculation has to be made. I ask because on two occasions over the past 12 months I have made an advance purchase reservation, thinking that I would be billed more or less immediately, only to find that I was not billed until a few days before I arrived at the hotel in question. On both occasions, exchange rates had moved significantly during this period (2/3 months) and, as I'm sure you've guessed, these changes were not to my advantage. In summary, if I make an advance purchase reservation, is there any way in which I can know, or determine, when I will be billed? My thanks"
2. Customer Care's initial response:
"Thank you for contacting Marriott. We appreciate the opportunity to provide you with information.
Payments for advanced purchase reservations are usually processed 48 hours after the reservation has been confirmed. If this time has passed and your credit card has not yet been charged, we recommend speaking to the hotel directly. This way you can request for the payment to go through immediately.
If we can be of further assistance, we invite you to reply to this e-mail."
3. My second query:
"Many thanks for your swift and helpful response to my query.
Two follow-up queries:
1. In a hypothetical situation, suppose that the hotel declines to action my reservation within the time period you suggest: would I be acting unreasonably to insist?
2. Would you mind if I post this correspondence on to the Marriott Insider website?"
4. Customer Care's second response:
"Thank you for your additional message.
The hotels are ideally suppose to charge a guest credit card 24 hours after a reservation has been made. Unfortunately, there is not a written regulation to when a hotel has to charge a guest credit card.
As a result of this we do recommend contacting a hotel to inform them you have made an advance purchase rate and you wish for your card to be charged at this time.
If you wish to post our correspondence on to the Marriott Insider website that is your discretion."
I hope it is a helpful exchange of information,
Very interesting. Do you think the hotels in question waited to charge, hoping the exchange rate would tip in their favor? OR were they just tardy with their accounting procedures? It would seem to me to be onerous for a hotel to have a person on staff that would need to track exchange rates on a regular basis to make a few pounds or dollars, but you never know.
very interesting. from a personal perspective, I am always thrilled when an advance purchase does not post until the last minute. most of the time, I find the posting never happens more than a few days before check in. I understand your perspective, but in my situation, I would never want to pay for services before receiving them....
I agree completely -- last minute! Since my flights are abroad, something can always happen. I had one such rate at the Grand Flora a few years back (total mistake -- I wasn't paying attention) and they hadn't billed it before I left. So when I got in touch with them, they agreed not to do so.
Although Shoeman makes a very good point, I share your concern with the advanced purchase reservation involving a foreign currency exchange rate. This happened to me the one time that I made an advance purchase reservation in euros this past Spring. It took the hotel (or Marriott - don't know exactly how it all transpires) over two weeks to process my payment. I was rather nervous as the euro had dropped against the dollar, and I feared it would go back up. After two weeks, the payment finally posted, and the euro had actually dropped even more, so the event ultimately transpired to my favor, but during the process of waiting, it did nag at me. I never did understand the delay, and considering your post, I still do not understand the delay. (Shrug )
Ark, I beg you won't loath me for this, but my tickle bone won't be satisfied until I finally ask you for once and for all, 'Your dad's name isn't by chance Noah, is it?'
Betting against the euro isn't too bad an idea at the moment - and, to be honest, probably for the next few months too. It would be an interesting experience to be spending a week-end in the Athens Ledra at the time that Greece exists the Eurozone. On Friday night, your currency will be euros, Saturday morning it will be drachmas at a 1 - 1 ratio, but by Monday it will be 1 - 1.5 or higher.
I chuckled at your question at my dad's name - but I can put your mind (or tickle bone) at rest that it wasn't Noah:-)
Have a good w/e
This is an interesting post and one that gives me the chance to add a little from my 'advance purchase rate, pay in full' dealings. I only do advance pay when the advance rate is so dramatically different from the regular rate I have seen that it's worth it. That being said, I never used to book the advance pay very far in advance because if there was a similar rate later on, I wasted my advance pay reasoning (to take advantage of a great rate).
But, last year changed my mind because I found that when I booked the advance rate it never got charged until just before the arrival date. The terms of the advance rate allow for a different cancellation window (sometimes 3 and sometimes 7 days in advance to cancel for a full refund) So, with billing not happening, if the better rate shows up before the cancel window what's to lose as I can cancel before I've even been charged?
What I did notice (because I was trying to figure out their process for the advance rate pay) was that I saw the charges come through for the advance pay just after the 'cancel without penalty' expires. So, what I'm guessing is that if they charge everyone when they book the advance pay when it's booked...and people cancel.....it's probably a big cost factor for them in time spent to process a full refund for a cancel done within the proper time.
Anyway, that's my guess as to the lag in the charge being done.
Your analysis makes good sense. It would be interesting to know how much "take-up" advance purchase rates attract. As with Painedp, Shoeman, Pluto and yourself, I rarely consider using them, but that is primarily because most of my travels are planned weeks, if not months, ahead. At that range, there are too many variables in play to make it worthwhile. Reservations for a week hence might be a different matter.
I had a vaguely-similar issue a couple of years in Asia where the hotel denominated reservations in US dollars, but when I came to settle my account, and offered to pay in dollars, only the local currency was accepted. One reason for this change was, the desk explained very honestly, that (a) their Sales and Marketing Dept wanted to advertise in US dollars, whereas (b) their Finance Dept didn't want to bear the cost of currency transactions: in other words, the known cost of transaction outweighed any potential gain from exchange rate fluctuations.
Have a good w/e,
I find this discussion very interesting. I pretty much never use the advance purchase since I did once a long time ago and something came up and I couldn't use it and it was really no refund. Usually the difference is not that great and I like to be able to cancel if necessary.