I have been getting more frustrated with the "rewards" program and several of the other "benefits" for several years but this morning I had conversation that encouraged me to finally sign into the forum.
I was checking prices for some properties for an upcoming trip and checked the rates. The "STANDARD" rate was listed as $89/night. I checked under the senior rate. $84.15! Now i am not a math whizz but just real quick arithmetic told me that a 10% reduction would bring it down to about $80.They are advertising 15% discount for seniors every day. I called customer service and here is the reply. "That rate is based on what the property "COULD" charge for the room!! I was silent for several seconds and then asked the CS agent, "Do you have any idea how ridiculous what you just said sounds? So who determines what they "could" rent the room for? The property could easily say they "could" rent the room for $250 and then $150 would be a great deal!
We visited another location a while back that wanted to charge an extra seven percent per day "resort fee" for such things as internet access, that they advertise as free, phone use, (Who uses room phones any more since cells?) popcorn etc. etc.
I also tried to book a stay with points for a upcoming trip up to New England at a Residence Inn. "No rooms available" When I called asking about the 72 hour guarantee I was told "We are a long term stay location and we don't rent 1 night rooms".
More and more frequently I am encountering that "No points rooms avail for that date" message.
On a trip back from the western part of the country a couple of years ago we stopped at a Courtyard. While checking in the desk clerk said that because I was, at that time,a gold member, we were entitled to a free breakfast. Wonderful. The next time I stayed at a Courtyard I asked about the free breakfast. "That's only at franchise properties" Fair enough. You know what is coming next. Next time a FRANCHISE Courtyard. "Sorry, that would be at company owned motels"!
The issue of "Arrival gifts" is another laughable area too. I have been at a Fairfield and had a nice basket of snacks and a bottle of water and another one of juice while at a Courtyard I am greeted with a small bottle of water and a package of cookies that I did not know could be packaged that small.
Customer service's response is usually like being read from a cue card. "Marriott inspects the properties on a regular basis to insure they are maintaing Marriott's high standards but many are run by a management company" When you are on the road frequently a major concern for selecting a place to stay is CONSISTENCY! This is not present at the Marriott properties any longer.
I maintained my company loyalty to the Marriott chain long enough to have exceeded the required points to be granted Lifetime Platinum but the inconsistencies, every increasing required points for a stay and the need hire an attorney to try and dig out all of the hidden loopholes to allow a location to not honor one or more of the "Benefits" has me frequenting Holiday Inns or Best Western properties more often.
We are also members of the MVC and there too, it seems to depend upon who and when you speak to whether the last thing you heard is correct or not.
Since I need the points to depart from rookie status to novice, knucklehead, or whatever level is next (btw-ssindc, I agreed with your cogent thoughts on this matter), I'll jump in on this one. Welcome to the pained platinum, misery loves company, being right is overrated, club, the last vestige of hope for apparently a dying breed of brand loyalists. As you know, there's plenty more tales like yours (wait until you see a AAA rate $100 more than standard - does Marriott really want a customer to use this rate?). This forum though is a superb fallout shelter of consumer protection and great ideas for making the most of our travel experience, and certainly the glass is more than half full. I'm jumping off now to book a four day hotel stay in two, two day intervals, in order to take advantage of the 'last minute weekend deals' , whew, having some fun now, aren't we. Welcome to the team, great to have you on board.
Generally what I have found is that the standard rate is non cancellable while the senior rate can be changed or cancelled until 24 hours before. It is always less costly than the flexible regular rate.
As for the benefits, I've learned that each chain & even each property within the chain alters its perks. However, except for the complimentary bottles of water and/or the buffet breakfasts, it really doesn't matter. Less snacks = less junk food = healthier us! Hooray for the basket of apples. The biggest benefits are free wireless and free parking. I think the Bonus offers are terrific. Would like them to be more flexible (i.e. upgrade two 1-4 Certs for one higher category) but overall a great incentive to ensure brand loyalty.
Your second paragraph makes my point. No consistency. When you spend 33 weeks a year on the road it would be nice to know if you book a room at The Snooze & Snore it should be pretty much the same as last night's Snooze and Snore.
As for the senior rate being less costly I believe that if you check several locations you will find that not to be so. Many times this is also true of AAA or Government as well.
I don't know how many of the larger cities you have stayed at Marriott but you will $40 to $50 a nite and up for parking. Also, unless you are a Platinum member, most of the Marriotts' as well as some Courtyards' and Fairfields' will charge $10 or more for internet in your room. I do't know about the others in the chain. The computers in "business" centers are usually inhabited by the "Occupy Computers" gang playing games or chatting with friends.
I appreciate the concern for my health however I doubt that it is the driving force behind the arrival gift selection. I especially have been impressed with the few locations where I find a large bottle of water already in my room with a note that it is for my enjoyment however if I consume it there will be a charge!
These issues are things that have been slowly ingraining themselves into the Marriott properties. All of them do not relate to the Rewards program. A few years ago they launched a "remodeling" program. Many locations received sparkling new lobbies, signs, etc. Some had major changes to the sleeping rooms. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I stayed in a Fairfield Inn that had completed the remodel and the ONLY change to the sleeping room was a CURVED SHOWER CURTAIN ROD!
If prices increase to maintain quality that is one side of the coin but when prices go up and benefits go down that is another matter.
Thanks' for your comments. The issues and situations I described are only those that I have experienced in over 16 years of life on the road.
I wont go off on a long tangent, but suffice it to say you are not alone in your disgust for the inconsistencies.
Needless to say, my loyalty as a Platinum Premier was lost and I will no longer stay at Marriott's unless I have no other choice. The years of 150 nights a year ended in 2011, because of the issues you mention, and issues I have have seen (view my various posts). You can not find any incentives anymore to stay loyal. There is no difference in Platinum / Platinum Premier, the service is continually declining, and is inconsistent at best, benefits are being eroded, etc.etc.etc.......... Al Gore does not have enough room on his internet for me to elaborate on the reasons why...............
I have a couple of suggestions for you:
- Get a reciprocal status at IHG or HHI, (call them up, send them your card and wha- lah.....it's done.)
- Seriously review your MVC membership, and unload it at the first opportunity, as all the "benefits" you were promised will eventually be deleted from there as well.
Good luck !
Dejamo's response, in my opinion, is another example of the growing evidence that Marriott is willingly allowing the most active customers to slip away (and I believe D books for his company as well). As has been observed in this forum by former stewards (meaning, well informed industry participants) like tryt and others, Marriott appears to be pursuing a different, newer target audience, certainly their strategic prerogative, but in an operating fashion which puzzles many of us.
In reading Dejamo's former posts, with the rare exception of the 'controversial' buddies story, which seemed to be by the reaction of others, an overly aggressive interpretation by the monitors of the T & C of the forum (I never saw the original post), all of his efforts have been toward enhancing Marriott's service quality.
The paradox I'm observing is that this forum, whereas modest in impact in influencing Marriott strategy (granted, not a stated purpose) is the most effective tool I have found for optimizing my Marriott travel/customer experience, yet it weakens each time we lose a valued road warrior member like Dejamo.
So Dejamo, paraphasing the world's most interesting man (which I certainly am not; hint, we never see SS and The Man together), Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt wherever you land, "stay posting my friend" we need you (and perhaps competitive insights will prove beneficial for all parties involved, including Marriott).