Huge Personal Milestone for Marriott Sorting Out the Mess Of Their New Program

When Marriott launched their new program on August 18th they encouraged members to combine their accounts. They told you that you were keeping either a Starwood account or a Marriott account, but that wasn’t really true — all accounts were moved onto Marriott’s IT system.

If you were a Starwood member and a Marriott member previously you now had two Marriott accounts but for legal reasons they still displayed Starwood graphics for one of them.

I combined my accounts and somehow showed only three years at the Platinum level towards lifetime status. Lucky from One Mile at a Time had extra years of Platinum status towards lifetime, he must have gotten some of mine.

Caroline Astor Suite at the St. Regis Bangkok

Month after month Marriott kept saying things were fixed, everything was better, Marriott’s CEO minimized any remaining issues as just ‘noise around the edges’ back in October. For me, though, years of lifetime status was a test.

  • Every time Marriott claimed things were better I simply checked my own account
  • As long as there were just 3 years of lifetime Platinum showing in my account I knew that just wasn’t true

While I have had plenty of contact with Marriott, getting clarification on issues and fixing problems like Al Maha deciding to charge about $1000 a night on award stays. But I never asked for anyone to look at my own account. I didn’t want special treatment. I wanted my account to be treated just like everyone else’s. It was an important test.

As pointed out by Rapid Travel Chai Marriott has updated years of lifetime status for many accounts. Mine is included. I went from 3 years at Platinum to more than 10 overnight.

Breakfast at the W Doha

There are still issues to be sure – from IT, such as legacy Starwood hotels where award space is available for individual nights but not booked together as a single stay, to hotels playing games with elite benefits – but this was a milestone for me.

I no longer have a personal barometer telling me that Marriott Rewards Bonvoy is broken. So I need your continued help and feedback. What’s not working still for you?

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, 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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  1. I got updated from 8 to 9 and should have gone to ten based on combining accounts. This happened yesterday, my communications prior to today have been positive, hoping they fix the latest issue and take me to ten. Will keep you updated.

  2. When should 2019 elite night credits post? I am still waiting for 15 nights from my SPG Amex card and 5 nights from my Platinum benefit.

  3. Did you know Marriott transfers to airlines are 10 – 15 weeks, or at least 2.5 MONTHS!!!!! No longer the couple days we had from SPG. Agent just warned me today.

  4. 1) Hotels, such as the Ritz-Carlton Waikiki, saying they won’t upgrade a platinum premier or ambassador even though the property recently opted into Marriott’s loyalty program after previously not participating
    2) Other properties like the Renaissance Schaumburg also saying they never upgrade to suites because they want to keep them open for purchase.
    3) J.W. Mariott Grosvenor House in London, one of the better legacy Marriott properties, saying it won’t provide the amenities and privileges that come with a suite (complimentary mini-bar, complimentary pressing of garments) to guests redeeming points.

  5. I am still short one year of lifetime platinum.

    I still have Marriott deducting points for upcoming stays, stays that I have paid for before August 18 — had the points deducted as spg points a long time ago.

    I still regularly don’t get welcome bonuses, until I complain .

    I still speak to Marriott representatives who give me misinformation about the program.

    I had many lifetime nights removed from my account a few months ago. I don’t know why, was not notified and an explanation has not been provided.

    I get annoyed when hotels go up in category , midyear, without any explanation.

    I am looking forward to upcoming category changes and high seasonality which will take away much of the remaining value.

    I don’t believe or trust people in authority at this company.

    I have a tremendous number of points, and a solid relationship with my five regular hotels — that is why this titanium member (who also has top or near top status with Hyatt , Ihg intercontinental and others ) is still around through the end of this year, and perhaps no longer,

  6. Gary, the marked change from Starwood transparency to Marriott opacity is stark:
    – spend meter – they won’t show you until 50 nights now. wouldn’t it be nice to know how your spending is tracking proportionally to nights?
    – no more hotel emails on web sites (but you can fax them!)
    – can’t easily request Your24 anymore yourself online (have to go through an Ambassador), though of course that program has declined too
    – can’t see any breakdown of bonus points you are earning (green choice vs. promo vs. plat amenity vs. other)
    – no online chat
    – maybe it will change 2/13, but searching is so tedious (relative to SPG) since you can only do one rate at a time
    – and of course the usual poor / no customer service response

    I lost my ambassador 1/31, and with that I have no desire to stay with this company anymore (switched most paid stays to Hyatt), as even though that program has declined greatly in the last year, you could at least get somewhat of a timely, personalized response.

    But other than that, it’s just fantastic & smooth sailing.

  7. It drove me back to Hyatt, just in time for their SLH program to make Europe a better destination.

    Mission accomplished, Marriott.

  8. @gleff – So are you a lifetime Tit as well? Because apparently lucky is having nothing to do with Marriott right now with no Marriott posts or update of Lifetime status = Marriott is not having it with his requests 🙂

  9. @Jasper – I just had the same exact problem with points being deducted for bookings months ago that pulled the SPG points at the time. How were you able to get this resolved? I called and they said they would fix but nothing yet and its making me nervous

  10. Tangentially different IT problem. Due to a family emergency, I had to book a room in Phnom Penh for my daughter and her friend, from here in the US. In making the res, there was no way (or if there was, I missed it) to add my daughter’s name to the reservation, and because of the dateline thing (my bad), I made the res for one night rather than two. Calling Marriott was an interesting experience…in short, the IT issues were in full view. While the customer service reps — it took four separate telephone calls — could not have been nicer,

    a) It proved impossible to extend the res for an additional night; I suggested I just book a second one-night reservation through the website, which — on my end — worked perfectly despite the agent’s inability to do so.

    b) I received a total of 13 emails from Marriott confirming the reservations…some for the “right” price, some for a higher price than what I had booked.

    c) Although I wasn’t going to stay in the room personally, I made it clear that I *was* the person paying for the room which, I was told by the agents, wouldn’t be a problem. Despite that, they charged my daughter’s friend’s credit card (my daughter being kept in the hospital — now going on her 4th day). Thus was only resolved by my calling Marriott and they, in turn, calling the hotel in Cambodia and having a conference call with someone there…

  11. The St. Regis Maldives is trying to charge me $15,000 for a reservation that disappeared from my account until after the cancellation window had passed!

    I made a few speculative reservations for January and February at this property. I made these reservations with cash because they weren’t bookable for points at the time. In December, I cancelled ALL reservations attached to my account, because I realized I wouldn’t be able to travel January/February.

    Last week, I got an e-mail from the property saying I had one reservation left … and the cancellation window has passed, so the $15,000 they charged my credit card is nonrefundable. Obviously I’m going to fight it with Marriott if the property won’t budge.

  12. Still waiting on 2/4 inquiries to various hotels about why no credit for stays. The Marriott “customer service” agent couldn’t credit them even if I provided the folios, claimed the property had to deal with it. Two ignored the inquiry. Two said they’d already authorized the points. My account: no points. I guess I have to start over again.

    Also: the “night counter” hasn’t incremented with this year’s stays, specifically points stays. Did they decide reward stays don’t count?

    While they are fiddling around with the name of the program and graphics, they seem to have massive execution problems just getting people credit! This is an epic fail this far into the “merger”.

  13. In this day and age, for Marriott not to have planned for a better integration of the merger is extremely poor management. I am a Platinum Elite and the customer service is negligible. I am Platinum in the Hilton program and seriously looking into changing my allegiance. Between the huge devaluation of the program, the lack of earning capabilities, and the inconsistent application of Platinum Elite benefits, there is little incentive to stay active with Marriott.

  14. A few major shortcomings

    1) All SPG properties email addresses were removed by Marriott from day one the final merger happened. This is a huge inconvenience especially when guests have late arrivals, have local transfer questions, have additional child need to be in the same room, etc etc.

    Why would in the days of internet, Marriott chose to remove all the email addresses then tell its customers they can use the fax? Really? how many folks still have a fax machine you know those 3 in 1 or 4 in 1? Internet fax service is not as easy as it sounds, and often is not free even the initial sends may be, you are required to sign up the service and be charged a monthly fee afterward…

    2) There is NO ABILITY to add additional guest names – Hilton has it, IHG has it. SPG has a big enough field to let you add the info. Marriott does not have the ability to add additional guest online. Must call. The space where you can add comment is very limited, like 45 characters only.

    3) Stays still not posted correctly especially for award redemption. Online request required a folio attached – without that even all other info were available to fill in, the site would not let you submit. We all know that MOST properties DO NOT GIVE FOLIOS on Award Stays. So when you are missing 2x 5th nights award stays for a total of 10 nights, you have a hard time to get them added back. I had to enlist SPG folks to do it, but their capacity will if not already, go away. So we are left with no assistance because the Marriott customer support has been non existent for months.

  15. Almost every week after the merger my points were not posting correctly within a 100, 000 – 200,000 range, I presume due to a lot of point activity by me during that period.

    I called & called. Various adjustments would be made that also made no sense, sometimes in my favor & sometimes not. Not one rep fully understood the transition rules. I have been waiting for the final dust to settle to present my case to management for a final reconciliation since their numbers are flat wrong & new adjustments still being made I didn’t ask for, or transact. Thankfully I have screen shots of each transaction I DID make!

    Then beginning at the start of 2019, Marriott’s system said I only needed 26 nights to keep Platinum Elite. It should have been 49, which was correctly changed last evening on its own.

    Pathetic display. If only it were Marriott props in the program I would have cashed out & been long gone. But as it is, I still want Starwood & keep putting up with horrible & irresponsible service. Marriott is looking at a major class action if others’ accounts have been handled as negligentky as my own.

  16. Maybe I’m just lucky but I had zero problems since the accounts were combined. Somehow I ended up with 9 years towards lifetime Plat status (even though I was only Plat for a couple of years) but alas only 450 combined EQN. All the points and reservations transferred fine. Will just be sad when I drop to Gold and lose the free lounge access.

  17. We just stayed at two Starwood, now Marriott, hotels in Europe. Even thought I used Marriott points to book the stays, neither see themselves as Marriott at all and even though my wife and I had both Marriott and SPG status prior to the merger, neither recognized any of the statuses. In fact, the hotel in Seville, Spain told me that they were independent and not SPG or Marriott even though I used Marriott points to book the nights. In Germany at the Frankfurt Airport, they wanted to charge me 40 Euros for my room which was a Marriott Free Night because they said that the free night didn’t cover the room! It was not a resort fee or anything like that, they just said that the points only covers so much of the cost and the rest was to be paid by me. I got out of it, but it was a mess. It is still a total mess at the hotels in Spain and Germany where we stayed.

  18. Reading this concerns me about the long term success of Marriott. Recently a favorite hotel that treated us very well in Berlin left the Marriott program because they did not want to be part of Marriott.

  19. Yes UA-NYC I miss the chat feature and why is it impossible to email a hotel.

    I lost ambassador on 1/31 also, but not sure what I lost. They never were helpful about anything and Your24 was a benefit that got denied quite often. So I see no reason anyone would bother for ambassador anyways. At least give some added point earnings or some additional SNA’s.

    My biggest issue right now is their family policies. I just had a child and every-time I made a reservation it added an extra person fee. I contacted the hotels (it was impossible to find their emails) and they said there is no charge. So I only put 2 adults and 0 children on the reservation. Seems to be a larger issue here I was seeing other people complain about. I just want to know the right cost upfront. No searching and emailing to get it.

  20. Gary—Lifetime Plat Premier here. Just finished a one month horror show with Marriott Customer Service on an issue that literally got fixed three hours ago. Please understand that at least in my experience, this is not normal for Marriott. Pre-2018, I had issues but they were always taken care of on the first call and the customer service people were actually knowledgeable and helpful. That has completely changed. I don’t know if everyone is new or they off-shored customer service or what happened, but the current situation is intolerable. If SPG loyalists can’t figure out how people put up with Marriott customer service, the answer is that this is not traditional Marriott customer service.

  21. Hi Gary,
    So I’ve been trying to apply a Suite Night Award for a reservation at the W Verbier for later this month. Everytime I apply it online I get an email saying the request has been applied. 10 seconds later I get an email cancelling the request. I’ve reached out to Marriott and they can’t figure it out. Been trying for over a month now. Marriott sent a request to the hotel directly and the hotel responded saying since the request was not made outside 60 days of the stay (which is the cancellation policy window) they cannot honor the Suite Night Awards.
    At this point the stay will be here and Marriott would have done nothing to fix it. Tried everything to make Premier Platinum last year so we could get 10 SNA’s and now this. I know the slim chances of the request going through but to not be able to get the request in at all is just ridiculous!

  22. Obviously, Marriott’s leadership is incompetent. What caused them to really drop the ball? Does anyone wonder if Marriott’s reservation system was a major factor? Would they have been better off adopting Starwood’s or another system?

    It’s my understanding that Marriott uses Oracle / MICROS OPERA PMS. Since Oracle’s acquisition of MICROS, end-users have been severely disappointed. This is not unlike Oracle’s countless other acquisitions. Oracle has some strengths in infrastructure and platform technologies, but they do a poor job with applications. They really struggle to “own” the “last mile”. They have a poor track record of delivering functionality and supporting the end-user needs. The last mile ultimately determines what kind of processes, workflows, and outcomes the end-user org will be capable of. It can shape an entire business. Oracle’s business model, at least for apps, is to acquire smaller software companies and “bolt-on” the apps to their eco-system of products. This, in turn, creates fragmented solutions that become costly to implement, maintain, and support. There’s a whole management consulting industry dedicated to helping end-users navigate this mess.

    I’m no expert on hospitality apps. But, in other industries, I frequently observe orgs that heavily rely on Oracle for apps are usually less capable operationally and of change. Yes, it’s a huge generalization and there are ton of other factors at play. But, when apps are fragmented and no one is truly “owning” the functionality, organizations become slaves to their software and its limits. I wonder if this is what happened at Marriott.

  23. @JasonBrandtLewis after I booked the Element in Amsterdam using my husband’s points and still couldn’t get my name on the reservation after 3 phone calls (they said it was, but it wasn’t showing up in my Marriott account or when I went into the reservation number), I cancelled the darn thing. He called and had his points transferred to my account. I didn’t want to chance showing up without him for the reservation. Just a thought.

  24. @K S – it’s a known bug with legacy Starwood confirmation numbers getting converted into new Marriott ones. Basically your zip code has not copied over into the new one, thus the issue. Another winning Marriott IT example. I had a Starwood Lurker on FT help me with it.

    The 60 day excuse is total BS though. You have until the day or two before to apply SNAs. Unless Marriott moved the goalposts yet again.

  25. I haven’t had the issues other people had, but I never really had a SPG account with any usable balance. I am a Lifetime Platinum and a Platinum Premier member that mostly does business travel so my requirements may be different.

    That being said, business travelers like myself are having major issues being able to download folios of previous stays to be able to expense them and submit them to AP. This feature used to stop working, then complaints to Marriott would fix it, then it would stop working again, then re-appear again.

    Now it doesn’t work at all which is pretty annoying. Most of us don’t want to spend hours calling every single hotel we are staying at to get the property to email folios we should be able to download right from the site. We got far better things to do with our time.

    Marriott desperately needs to focus on basic functionality of their system, instead of redecorating the website, playing with tier statuses and renaming their programs.

    If we can’t get stays booked correctly, access to our folios and basic customer service, no amount of website redecorating or name and drape changes will matter. We will simply move our business elsewhere.

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