Deceptive Practices and shameful treatment of "rewards" members.
I think my username is saying it all, but let me explain...
Recently I chose to book a room on Marriot's website. I was satisfied with the price published and the convenience of boring it over my phone app. After finding out later that I would be required to stay an extra day for work I attempted to cancel my reservation, only to find that the reservation was on a "pre-paid" rate. I attempted to contact customer service, which was extremely busy 6 days prior to my arrival date. After waiting 10 minutes I was told that the reservation was pre-paid and that I would need to speak with someone in customer care. I was placed on hold for another 15 minutes, after which I selected the "1" option to receive a call back.
After 24 hours...still no returned phone call...
I contacted the same number again and made it clear to the associate that I had not received a call back. She desperately tried to get me to agree to call back on a weekday, that customer care must be too busy. I made her aware that I would be too busy to discuss this issue on the weekday, and that I had already made 2 different calls. She was able to place me on hold and get a customer care representative on the phone. The customer care representative said that she had to call the hotel directly. She spoke with the assistant manager who told her that they were refusing to refund my 1 night of $140 worth of charges because it was a pre-paid rate. I asked her to escalate and she said that she needed more time to speak directly with the hotel manager, and that I again would receive a call back within 24 hours.
After 72 hours...I received a voicemail from customer service...as well as the following email:
Dear ****** XXXXX:
Thank you for contacting Marriott Customer Care. We appreciate the opportunity to provide you with information regarding your reservation at the Residence Inn Albuquerque Airport.
We researched your reservation and have determined it was booked online via Marriott.com. The rate, which was selected at the time of booking, was a special advance purchase rate. This is a discounted rate with special terms and conditions, including a requirement to make payment in full, including tax, at the time of booking. As noted online, this rate does not allow for any changes or cancellations without forfeiture of the advance payment.
While we can confirm that your reservation was cancelled online, the hotel did not refund your prepayment due to the special terms and conditions noted above.
We apologize for the inconvenience. Your patronage and goodwill are very important to us. If we can be of further assistance, we invite you to reply to this email.
Marriott Customer Care
This communication contains information from Marriott International, Inc. that may be confidential. Except for personal use by the intended recipient, or as expressly authorized by the sender, any person who receives this information is prohibited from disclosing, copying, distributing, and/or using it. If you have received this communication in error, please immediately delete it and all copies, and promptly notify the sender. Nothing in this communication is intended to operate as an electronic signature under applicable law.
Here's how the same process worked with Starwood when I had to modify and cancel a night in less time:
Contact Starwood customer care, get a rep, tell them I have a pre-paid rate that I accidentally clicked and that I would no be making my trip. Starwood customer care refunds rate and asks if there is any other hotel I need to book. I say yes, I book the next three weeks because I have not heard back from Marriott. They say "Thank You for our business." I go about my weekend.
Ladies and Gentleman who are buying into the Marriott Rewards thing, it is true, Marriott has a lot of locations and they are usually pretty available but as you can see form the story able, if you are a private corporate customer they will not force their franchisees to do anything on your behalf. They are willing to stand behind their hotel (which I can appreciate to an extent) and let you flounder with broken promises and wasted time. I am a manager of north american sales-esc employees for an internet security company and I can tell you that Starwood seems to be the place to go because they simply refuse to chose anyone other than their customers.
Welcome to Insiders, starwoodisbetter. This is a great forum to share all of your travel experiences and recommendations. I'm carat and I am one of the moderators here along with lindseyh and deannad. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to any of us. We're here to help.
In regards to your post, the advanced purchase rate can be frustrating. I had made a similar booking on the go and didn't read the reservation carefully, which was my fault. However, I was able to get an incredibly low rate for the East Side Marriott NYC over July 4th weekend, under $200 for a holiday weekend. I can see how this would be a major pain if you were planning on modifying/canceling the reservation, but I do appreciate the opportunity to get a discounted rate. If there is anything I can help clarify for you, please let me know.
Again, Welcome to the Insiders! Hopefully we'll be hearing more from you.
Sorry you had a bad experience. In the over 27 years I have been in the Marriot program and staying at Marriott properties across the US and Europe, I have never had anything but fair treatment. If I had booked a room with an awesome rate, knowing it was prepaid, and I had to cancel I would hope they would provide me some relief, but wouldn't expect it, because I was the one who accepted their terms. As a Gold member, I might suggest you contact the Marriott Rewards customer service and see if there is anything they might offer, in recognition of your prior loyalty to their brand. You made a mistake, so you are asking for them to go above and beyond.
Just a thought on a different approach. Hope to see you around the site more.
Thanks to both of you who replied. I understand that there was a "mis-click" on my part via the iPhone app. I am raising two issues here outside of just begging them to recant on my mistake.
The first is that the app itself fine prints all of the conditions and does not offer the same room for a slightly higher price, making it look like the only option to get the room rate is to select the best rate. Seeing as how I'm a frequent hotel visitor, I'm not usually coaxed easily be the "pre-paid rate" scheme, however there has to be some flexibility in those practices. You can't legitimately expect customers who can't make a stay to not attempt to cancel, especially when you're restricting rooms to pre-pay only.
Secondly, and most importantly is the amount of time, promises for follow up and severe lack of communication that took place in this resolution. As an update, I did receive communication from the hotel manager saying that they were willing to refund the pre-paid purchase because mistakes do happen, but also indicating that they were completely unaware of the request because they had never been contacted by customer service until yesterday(Tuesday), a full 3 days after the time i finally got to speak with Marriott Rewards Customer service, and 4 days after my original message. My expectations are not that they forgive mistakes, my expectations are that they communicate effectively with their customers and attempt to resolve issues to he best of their ability, set expectations with them, and meet those expectations accordingly. I should not be told to call back when it's more convenient for them, and I should not have to chase someone down regardless of the at fault, that in and of itself is the definition of "customer service."
You will get your expectations met in other programs at this level. Knowing that it is possible, this is the bar that is set, and it is far higher than what was met in this experience. I don't expect special treatment, I simply expect bed effort support and customer service to honor their commitments when I leave a message or when they say someone will follow up with me with a decision because they are not empowered to make the decision on their own.
Sorry about your experience, but I think you may be misreading the situation because of your frustration. You refer in the last paragraph to Marriot "breaking a promise". Actually it was you that broke the promise by accepting the prepaid fare then backing out. Not malicious on your part, of course. But neither was it malicious on Marriott's part.
Marriott does have the somewhat unique situation of not being the property owner in most locations. Thus when they make rules and the property owner follows the rules, they can't (and probably wouldn't if they could) force the owner to violate the rules he had agreed to. He guaranteed you a room at a extra low price if you agreed to prepay and now you need to back out. He said no.
If the property owners routinely allowed what you want to do then everyone and their mother would book the extra cheap rates knowing they could back out if they wanted to without losing. That hurts the business.
Sorry, but getting angry with Marriott because they couldn't fix the problem that you created is a little unjust, IMO.
Like psudad I've have had nothing but fair treatment from Marriott over the past 20 years. Most of the hotel chains have the same policy in regards to Advance Purchase Rates. I'm sure if you tried to cancel the last day of a pre-paid Starwood stay that was already in progress you would have a similar experience. I try to avoid the advance purchase rates. I have found that the AAA rate is usually very similar to the prepaid rate.
Totally agree unfortunately it was a communication issue with 5 days notice. The issue was resolved by the manager at the hotel, who honestly seemed to understand the plight and said she was going to mention it to a VP mentor. I'm no stranger to pre-paid rates, but the cell phone app Marriott provides does not make them very clear. I am intending to meet my obligation the following week for the pre-paid rate at that hotel and be more cautious in the future. Hopefully Marriott's customer service improves, but I don't intend to be the guinea pig.
Sorry to hear about your frustration, starwoodisbetter.
However, when booking an advance purchase rate you need to consider the fact that you got a reduced rate for promising Marriott you're gonna stay thus confirming & committing to your booking in advance.
This is a two way commitment - Marriott commits to giving you a reduced rate and you commit to stay - as simple as that.
In case you made a mistake, as you indicated, than you have to pay for your mistake since the mistake is yours! Nothing to blame Marriott for - as simple as that.
Regarding your SPG thoughts:
The SPG program doesn't seem to be that attractive... Here's is why:
A. It's ranked by 'US News Travel' only in the 8th place, while most of the other major programs are ranked much higher (see this link to understand why).
B. Its points don't worth that much comparing to the other major programs and it's ranked in the last place. Read this analysis to understand why.
C. The Marriott Rewards program has been ranked the best one for the past several years, so why forced convincing yourself that there's a better one?...
Eventually moving to another program will do you no good, and obviously won't give you your money back. It's entirely up to you though.
Tthis is tricky, I've certainly booked an advance purches, found I needed to cancel and thrown myself on Marriotts mercy. Only about twice and each time the hotel was called by Plat services and agreed to allow cancellation, both were very much extenuating circumstances, one was due to the volcano cloud disruption, I stayed in a different Marriott for the night, amd another due to a huge dump of snow that stopped the UK. And for a change it was a proper dump of snow. I suspect hotels received a lot of pleas to be excused advance booking and no doubt same-day bookings too. I suspect these events overall work to hoteliers advantage. I really wouldn't expect much sympathy with a "I booked an advance purchase a few weeks ago, but didn't realise it was advance purchase and now need to cancel" though I'd have a go, I wouldn't walk away from a chain that held me to the booking I'd made...
I am speaking from personal experience, not the experience of the masses or those surveyed in attempt to draw attention to a particular instance. The attempt wasn't to insult people, but I was literally left with no place to go. The funny thing about this issue, I have had more people attack me for having a bad experience on here than offer a solution, or try to be understanding and promote their beloved Marriott Rewards to treat everyone well. A land of glass houses we all live in maybe.
Floods do happen, and mistakes are made by customers etc. I have yet to have any point dropped on me to think Marriott is wonderful, and like I said, my contact and conversation with the Hotel Manager was very graceful, but with Marriott as a whole it was a different experience. I would have been OK paying the rate if I would have been communicated with, not limbo. I would equate this to ordering a burger, having it served cold and asking for it to be recooked, and then getting the same burger back after an hour.
Also, I have posts here in reply that are still in moderation but everyone else seems to get the right to tell me I made the mistake. What gives? Fine, I'll change my username and say I was wrong for expecting a call back.
Clearly I was upset about my experience when writing my original message and getting on this board was a way to hopefully get a call back. At this point all I have received is non constructive feedback and I was able to get the issue resolved on my own.
How do I delete my account as I am clearly agitating the faithful in my attempt?
Star - you may want to reconsider leaving the board. I have been involved for a while now and have found it very helpful and informative. Good travel information and, quite frankly, I have received some assistance from Marriott on issues. Certainly your call where you spend your time, and with whom you spend your money, but I have found that being engaged with the community in which I spend my time and money has paid dividends.
You are gold elite, so you have clearly spent time with Marriott, as a recurring customer. What has continued to bring you back?
You don't agitate me, starwoodisbetter
Your complaint seemed far more outcome rather than process orientated. My feeling reading the post was that had the hotel forgiven your reservation slip-up and refunded you we'd be none the wiser about the dropped callback promises and the starwoodisbetter handle would have gone uninvented and this thread unposted.
Yes, it's certainly the case that the vast majority of regular members here are also regular Marriott customers, and since we have a choice with our lodgings and choose Marriott we are all pretty happy with the chain, though I think we've all had our issues and posted accordingly. We share our knowledge and traveling tips openly and are always ready to help others, both regulars but especially newbies. But your post wasn't asking for help, it simply told a story. Like others here I replied to that.
There are many threads here asking questions. How do I get to gold? When is buyback offered? Which is the best place to stay for a Plat in wherever? Are your points posting? Whom do I complain to now? Which credit card, Marriott or Ritz? What's an elite night? Why no free breakfasts for Plats at Courtyards? You'll see lots of helpful replies.
I like your handle and would enjoy seeing it reappear regularly as an active participant. As for "Starwood is better", well I think nose to nose, Starwood comes out in front for suite upgrades, redemption availability (genuine 100% no blackout rule, as opposed to Marriotts more restricted version) and aspirational vacation properties but behind for geographic availability (unusably poor here in UK) and points earn and burn.
Look forward to hearing more from you starwoodisbetter
Thanks for letting me know, psudad! Are you seeing it in the thread or in your inbox? I've noticed that happens sometimes when people add comments to the thread, but it only populates like that in my inbox.
starwoodisbetter, I'd like to help reach a resolution. Can you please send me a private message with your Rewards Number and stay details? We'll work together to get to the bottom of this. Thanks in advance.
Usually when you book a prepaid rate which is not from a 3rd party, it does give you a 24hr cancelation in case it was a mistake (given that its not for the same day) Usually goes like " please be aware that canceling after 1day from making this reservation we will assess a charge of x amount" which shows on your confirmation email as well. True people make mistakes and some hotels can be more lenient than others refunding the money but if they dont then oh well, they are just sticking to their contract. Now, when you make a mistake at starwood say for the wrong date and they refuse to refund your money will you run to Hilton next? or maybe Hyatt after it occurs at hilton?
That is all i have to say about the subject.
I understand your frustration! I travel frequently for business purposes, and it is not unusual for those plans to change. Therefore, I never take the pre-paid option. I accidently booked a prepaid rate in August, which I needed to cancel, only to find out that it was a pre-paid rate. ugh.... I emailed the manager of the property and received a very customer focused response. The manager not only removed the charge, but encouraged me to contact him directly for my next stay. While the mistake certainly was my fault, I really appreciated how it was handled. I was ready to move to Hilton, but I am still loyal to Marriott thanks in a huge part to the way the situation was handled. I don't want discounted, pre-paid, non-cancellable rates.