A RANT about gift cards.
I have frequently purchased large amounts of Marriott branded gift cards from a Kroger store in Memphis, TN. It has been a way to triple dip on points.
1. Kroger points, $.05 off of gas for every $100 spent.
2. My girls gymnastics team gets 5% of what I spend at Kroger
3. What ever points from Marriott for the balance of my stay.
So I am buying $500+ of these cards some weeks in $100 increments. The trouble being that the staff at most brands doesn't know what to do with them.
Rarely do the POS systems work when the cards are swiped, the counter person then needs to hand key the number, again never works. A quick look in the manual, tells them to add an additional 4 prior to the number on the card. Might work, and swipe, key and repeat process for up to 5 cards to total out the bill.
And finally I end up with a pile of cards that have between $10 and $30 left on them, and staff that do not seem willing to help me consolidate them, given the length of the process.
IMHO this is ****. We live in a time when everything from gas to build a bear is on gift card systems. Why can't a thousand property system like Marriott figure it out.
Anyone have this issue? Anyone think of how it can be addressed? Thanks
I used a gift card for $100 recently in Toronto. It was very early morning, but I had some of the same problems you describe. First of all, it 'looked' different from apparently newer ones, even though it was still within the 'use by' date. They swiped it and nothing happened -- then they had to call a series of numbers before getting authorization. In addition, when you use it in another country the question became the exchange rate. Should it be the one the hotel uses to change customers' money (NO, I thought!). That's what they tried first, but then called again and were told to use the current real exchange rate.
I do think there must be a more standard way of using these cards to avoid the hassles. Everyone was unfailingly nice throughout but the whole process took about 20 minutes extra.
I have also done the 'gift' card routine and have experienced the same aggravation. It seems that Marriott changes the redemption process every time I go to use the gift card. It is sometimes annoying, but at least they have always been helpful and apologatic for their lack of understanding how the process works.
In regards to the multiple cards with short balances: I would suggest telling the desk in advance that you have multiple gift cards that have balances on them and that you are going to zero out those balances with the stay. Give them two options: One, I can do it when I check out; or, two, I can give you the cards in advance and you can credit my folio with the value whenever they have time to do so. If you give them the cards in this manner, make sure you have a written sheet with the value available on each card and a copy to keep for your reference to the credit being done properly.
In the future, I would suggest that if there is a card with a short balance, just hand it to them, tell them to use this card first with 'X' balance remaining and then use a second gift card for credit to the stay. That way, they will have to use the remaining balance and many cards with small balances won't be hanging around. I always tell them the available balance on the card in advance when I am using a card for the last time. I find that to be very helpful in completing the process.
If you need to find out the available balance on the gift cards you have, go to the web address on the back of the card, or just go to the Marriott.com gift card page and type the card number in to find the balance remaining.
Thanks, I am glad to know it isn't just me.
I am a perpetually late check in person. I would say 11pm to 1am is about average for when I arrive. This leads me to think the FD would be happy to swipe and credit the folio. Alas this is not the case, only once, at a 7 resort, was FD willing to credit several cards at check in.
Worries me, as you can see I am building empires with all these programs and credits.
Based on the condition that you have encountered with using the cards, one thing to remember and remind them:
It's their JOB to accept payment in any manner the customer provides. Those cards are cash already in Marriott's account and they have no choice but to do the gift card shuffle. Whether a cat. 7 or cat. 1, just tell them that's the way it's going to be, so deal with it.
They have no right to say whether or not they will allow folio credit from a Marriott card that has already been paid for.
After reading about your experiences I touched base with our Gift Card team, who gave me an update on this issue. This past month there was an enhancement implemented with regard to how gift cards are processed. Over the past month the Gift Card team has been in touch with the hotels to train and assist them with this new system. They feel confident that hotels are now processing gift cards without any issues such as those you described. Guests should now be able to go into any hotel, and they can combine all of their cards with a small balance onto one card.
Please let us know if you continue to have any issues!
Laura, the team must have missed the Marriott Conference Center at College Park, MD, because when I stayed there on May 7th, the clerk was completely helpless about how to credit gift cards to my stay and I wound up having to use my CC instead. I'd asked at check-in about using the cards and was assured by a different clerk that I could; she told me to present them at the desk at check-out.
No express checkout for me at 5:50 the next morning - the lone staffer tried swiping the cards, told me they were declined, and that the whole thing was unfortunate, but ..... (shrug). He then pointed out the 1-800-442-6132 customer service number on the card; I pointed out that I needed to be somewhere in half an hour and didn't have time to call just at the moment. As it turns out, that line is answered only during business hours, so I couldn't have gotten a human being anyway at 5:55 AM. I was later told by a gift card rep that there was no record of my cards having been tried previously, so either the guy in College Park pretended to swipe them or just had not a single clue.
When I stayed at a Courtyard in Gettysburg, PA, 2 days later, the clerk very efficiently credited them at check-IN with no difficulty at all. I can't understand the HUGE discrepancies in service and training throughout Marriott properties.