How Marriott Makes It Too Taxing On Guests To Earn Correct Points For Their Stays

Writing about a Marriott Bonvoy member who missed earning Ambassador status by $8 I suggested that anyone who spent over $13,000 with Marriott certainly was shortchanged points and spend credit along the way. One reader made this point on Twitter.

Marriott offered the non-sequitur that it’s easy to request retro credit, that it’s “no more than a two-step process,” which is funny because the form literally lists three steps.

In 2022, though, the customer shouldn’t need to get a copy of the bill from a Marriott hotel to give the paperwork to Marriott.

How has Marriott not solved for obtaining copies of bills from their hotels, instead of making customers do that work, suggests two things,

  • IT malfeasance
  • A desire for breakage

By forcing consumers to do the work to obtain missing points, more points remain missing, lowering owner costs. By contrast, when Hyatt used to offer points as a welcome amenity to top elites guests would receive additional bonus points when their welcome points didn’t post correctly. This aligned incentives to make sure points posted correctly the first time, because it cost hotels more if they didn’t. Here the incentive is for hotels not to post points correctly in the first instance because it’s a net cost savings.

There is in fact one way that the process could be worse:

Indeed that used to be how it was done so where we’re at now is an improvement. Still, Marriott – and other hotel chains which copy this process – need to do better.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I had an experience where I requested points retroactively and the adjustment took more points AWAY from me. When I tried to resolve it they insisted they were right and I was given too many points the first time. trying to fight that is an uphill battle

  2. “Need to do better…” But the problem is that you’ve hit the nail on the head. This is not an accident. It’s not a case of Marriott wanting to do better. This is by design. From Marriott’s perspective “doing better” would involve screwing their elites out of MORE points — being fair and honest with elites is literally against their business model.

  3. And non-US properties apply ‘creative’ exchange rates to further tilt the balance in their favor. Usually off by several %. A little at a time adds up to a big number.

  4. I stayed at a Marriott resort in Hawaii in 2021 & only 10% of the expected points posted. Easily corrected since I requested folio at checkout. Then a few weeks later some relatives stayed there. I recommended they check their points – and guess what, again only 10%. One can only assume that it’s a fairly widespread practice.

  5. I have found Hilton and Marriott equally guilty of failing to properly add points for incidentals like meals

    Hotels try and credit you for base room rate and hope you don’t notice

  6. Understand that it is the property owner who is paying for those points. Remember that Marriott makes a market in points with the property owners and (separately) with members. Same thing with the other networks.

    Nick’s experience points to a repeat offender. Once again we are confronted with (seemingly) another petty behavior of the property owners. And, once again, I ask when everyone will wise up to the hotel loyalty program game.

  7. Some hotels, such as Cancun properties really SUCK and make you work one hour or more and 10 days to beg for your points… RESIDENCE INN CANCUN..

  8. Even if you using the missing stay form, you often get a nonsensical reply such as the folio misses the hotel name (when in fact it’s right there!). You can no longer reply to the email as when you do, the email bounces.

  9. As a former Platinum Elite, am somewhat glad/relieved to have avoided Marriotts for over two years. Reading these threads reminds me of the downward service spiral that everyone saw coming after the Starwood merger. Although Hyatt’s footprint is much smaller, it was great to take advantage of the 30-night fast-track to Globalist status offered last year.

    Gary, you should start a separate #BummedByBonvoy blog, you would have nearly endless material to post (although it might get fairly repetitive after a month or two).

  10. That’s exactly why people needs to start side hustles. Just in case of things like thios whereas their travel points aren’t respected.

  11. I gave up expecting accuracy a decade ago… fortunately was already Lifetime Platinum (now LTT), not that status matters at Marriott either.

  12. I kind of feel like Marriott are breaking a law when they credit only 10% of the points or some other fabricated number. They are advertising a set amount based upon a formula and not delivery said amount, which I would think is a contractual breach at a minimum.

  13. Some hotels, such as Cancun properties really SUCK and make you work one hour or more and 10 days to beg for your points… RESIDENCE INN CANCUN..

    I was under the impression that the awarding of points for a completed stay is centrally managed by loyalty programs rather than by the properties, at least that is the case with Hilton Honors.

    I have found Hilton and Marriott equally guilty of failing to properly add points for incidentals like meals

    In the case of Hilton Honors, the program that I am intimately familiar with, that claim is totally bogus. Incidentals that one is smart enough to charge to one’s room will always earn points.

    I stay almost exclusively at Hilton properties. The only time I have had to call Hilton Honors (not properties!) to request retro-credit for missing points has been when they’ve run their 2x promo that would award 3x if one pays the folio with a co-branded AMEX card, like the program’s Q4 2021 global promo. It’s one of their most lucrative promos because it awards up to 54x if one is Diamond and pays the folio with the HH AMEX Aspire card.The 2x has always credited correctly but I’ve often had to call to get credit for the extra ‘1x’ for paying with the Aspire. There’s never been any fuss when I’ve called the Diamond desk about it. The missing points have always been awarded, although they had to juggle things when more than 10K needed to be credited because the computer system does not allow more than 10K in retro-credit at once; 14K has to be retro-credited in two different entries like, say, 10K + 4K or 9K + 5K…

  14. DCS, the challenge is what dollar number the property ultimately reports as qualifying revenue.

    Each property has its own upgrade rules. Likely, each property has rules regarding qualifying revenue.

    Gary points to the potential that Marriott IT has shortcomings that (perhaps) prevent internal controls from assuring accuracy.

  15. DCS, the challenge is what dollar number the property ultimately reports as qualifying revenue.

    @Reno Joe — That is largely true, but one is always given the opportunity to verify one’s charges for a stay at checkout. That is the best time to dispute any charges that a property might have mis-classified or might not even have included at all, because at that time everything would still be “fresh” and a favorable resolution possible.

    To try to dispute charges after you’d already paid makes things tougher for everyone, especially for loyalty programs that were not with you on the premises and rely solely on the folios as provided by the properties.

  16. Hyatt might be better in terms of recognition, but by now I’ve been chasing them for two weeks for a wrongly credited stay. All I have are agents who promise me to get it fixed, but nothing has been fixed (and as a result I have to pay for breakfast because guess who is now only an explorist…)

  17. I had an experience this summer where the entire points balance from a stay was missing from my account. Marriott was refusing to credit the points on a technicality but finally issued the points.. to someone else with the same name. Despite having my Bonvoy number in the email subject line. Sadly took some more back and forth to get them to re-credit those points to my account..

  18. @ Gary — Really, is anyone surprised that these people would cheat their customers? They are experts at doing so. Wake up people, and do business with someone else.

  19. Gene, exactly. It astounds me that after everything written about these jokers, we read comments from those still patronizing them.

  20. @Reno Joe – Do you mean comments by those who are still patronizing hotel loyalty in general or just by those who have been “BonVoyed”?

  21. Seems to me it is in Marriott’s best interest to get a record of charges themselves. If they trust a PDF I email to them why can’t I change the numbers to whatever I please?

  22. Funny how hotel chains don’t want to be treated as a commodity, especially by frequent travelers. Therefore, they have the loyalty programs that have become less and less valuable through the years. Almost to the point that one is better off saving money on the hotel stay by using Hotels.com and using that money for a breakfast or whatnot. Let’s be honest, upgrades these days are hard to come by even as Diamond, Globalist, Titanium, etc.

  23. Haha — same thing happened to me last month with the Lufthansa Miles and More credit card. I am a Senator member — so you would think they would want to be nice to me and respect my time, right? Nope. I had 97,000 Status Miles and needed 100,000 to requalify for Senator Status (which is a blissful two years long). When you are a Senator, they waive the annual fee on their credit card which is a good deal. But they also offered 5,000 Status Miles upon New card approval — so I took it. But the miles didn’t post — and here I was on December 15th feeling kind of frustrated about it despite two calls to Customer Service. Finally, on the 3rd call, the agent asked me to send proof of the email making the offer AND proof from their own website with the offer details. I was a bit aghast — and told her so bluntly — that I shouldn’t have to make screen prints of something she should know and send it in to get credit! I was very forthright in my note to Customer Service and sent in the two attachments. I received a reply ‘Thanking me for my candor” (darn right!) But they gave me the 5,000 Status Miles and I have Senator Status for the next two years — Hallelujah!

  24. Couldn’t agree more. I woke also like to add that even if you provide your bill don’t count on getting your points.

    Bonvoy is the absolute worst loyalty program I’m a member of. Never been upgraded or offered enhanced internet. They do thank me for being gold which is actually insulting. I’m going to avoid Marriott in the future and if I do need to stay at one of their properties I’ll book through hotels.com who always credits my nights. F bonvoy!!

  25. But Ivan! Marriott just won “Best Loyalty Program” for THE 14TH YESR IN A ROW at last months
    (April 2022?) Freddie Awsrds! They must be doing something right???
    I’m surprised Gary hasn’t written a post on how this can happen to a loyalty program that has it’s own society wide verb (Bonvoyed!) that means getting screwed/cheated/ripped off etc.
    Or are the other loyalty programs THAT BAD!!??

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