All Marriott Bonvoy redemption nights are subject to a service charge of USD 30 per night.
This flat fee is described as a ‘service charge’. Paid rate guests pay a similar service charge of 10% of their room rate, and with paid rates under $300 service charges are lower for guests paying cash than those paying with points.
Credit: JW Marriott Los Cabos
More importantly, though, there’s not supposed to be any ‘service charges’ on points stays. The hotel has been overcharging award night guests for some time, hitting them with $30 a night fees when they’re getting paid an amount by Marriott that is supposed to cover the full stay (exclusive of resort fees, natch).
When I first asked Marriott about this I was told that these service charges were typical for resorts in Mexico, and that award guests weren’t being targeted despite unfortunate language on Marriott’s website that made it appear otherwise. I pushed back.
- Claiming there is ‘no service charge specifically for redemption stays’ isn’t quite right since there’s no flat $30 charge applied to paid bookings, which are billed 10% of paid rate.
- That’s beside the point, since service charges (or any fee that is a percentage of room rate) – as opposed to resort fees – are supposed to be included with award stays. Bonvoy program terms item 3.2.e states that free night redemption “includes.. room tax/service charge.”
Pointing out Marriott’s terms seemed to get action. Marriott first went on to explain the service charge “[t]he full amount received from these service charges is paid directly to hotel associates as a gratuity.” That’s all well and good, but hotel employees should be taken care of by the hotel – they are receiving payment from Marriott that is meant to be inclusive of service charges. And if they are underpaying their staff, they should fix that.
Nonetheless, the chain acknowledged that charging award guests these fees “is inconsistent with the program’s terms and conditions.” As a result, Marriott told the property to cut it out.
Marriott is looking into whether this practice existed at other properties in the company’s portfolio. Once our review is completed, we will communicate with our members who were impacted by such charges and intend to address the situation.
In other words, anyone that has been billed a service charge for their Marriott Bonvoy redemption stay should – eventually – see a refund.
Now we just need to get Marriott to refund improper credit card surcharges from the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort. But progress is being made.