Marriott Calls The Cops On Guest Who Asked For Elite Benefits

Marriott Bonvoy offers breakfast to Platinum members, but the benefit is confusing. At Courtyard hotels in North America and Europe it’s actually a choice between 500 points (total for the stay) or a $10 food and beverage credit (x2 for two guests registered to the room) that can be used any time of day – not just in the morning.

But as I’ve documented extensively, hotels seem to do what they want with impunity, published benefits of the Bonvoy program notwithstanding. One customer found this out when the hotel called the cops after they asked for their $10 credit – and when it was refused they invoked Marriott’s guarantee of $50 cash for having the benefit denied.

Platinum, stayed 1 night at a Courtyard in North America. Breakfast was closed. Morning of check out, asked if I could use $10pp F&B amenity on grab-and-go from the pantry. Agent initially says yes but when I come down later and get the food, man (didn’t identify himself but supervisor I’m guessing) comes out and says no, you have to pay.

Point out the elite amenity on Marriott website, supervisor says no. I point out that goes against the elite welcome gift guarantee, supervisor says take it up with Marriott, but you have to pay otherwise you can deal with the police for shoplifting.

I ask if he is the general manager since I would like to speak to the GM. Man says, now you’re making threats so I am calling the police, picks up the phone and starts dialing. I leave and say you are free to charge my card. Later receive a updated folio with the additional F&B charge.

The phenomenon of having your program benefits denied by a hotel is often called being “Bonvoyed” because it’s so common. Here, taking what you’re entitled to is called “shoplifting.”

Marriott hotels just ignore elite breakfast benefits with impunity and will continue to do so until Marriott does something about it. Even before the pandemic I described understanding the Marriott breakfast rules as “like something out of a Fellini film.” At Courtyards, apparently, it’s something that takes the police to sort out.

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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  1. I just requalified as an Ambassador again – but quite honestly the program is so disappointing as it rarely does what it says on the tin. I stayed at a Ritz Carlton a couple of days ago. Even emailed the Ambassador people and requested My24 (denied at check in) Club access denied (oh I could pay $350 for it if I wanted). No special treatment. Havent used one suite upgrade all year. You’ll get better service from any Marriott hotel by being nice at check in and handing $20 over with your credit card and ID!

  2. The Marriott Bonvoy program is a complete waste. They destroyed SPG which was the best program out there. I never get the promised benefits from the Bonvoy dumpster fire, so I have moved on.

  3. @eightblack: With all due respect, club lounge access has never been a benefit for ambassador elites. Complaining about receiving something that is specifically excluded from elites is ignorant at best.

  4. @Noise Around the Edges, read the link provided by Gary. The OP in the thread names the hotel.

  5. Yes, DO name the darn place so others can avoid it. Alan says it best. We’re not in SPG land any longer. Shameful. The morons of Marriott don’t get it. What they paid for, what had value was the loyalty of the SPG members they were inheriting with the sale. It was a bad sign from the get go when they didn’t let us keep our SPG numbers. They are fools.And then to dare to call the police? Like the police could know what to do or would arrest someone? Unreal. Just unreal. I think we should call that being hertzed!

  6. First of all, as a Lifetime Titanium member, I fully understand the confusion around Marriott’s elite offerings and also that they don’t always enforce it with hotel owners

    However, I call BS on this story. First of all clickbait title since you don’t like know if the police were called or not since they didn’t come. Secondly, you are hearing one side of things. Even if the hotel doesn’t give the guy the $10 credit (are we so petty that is worth arguing over anyway) but I bet the escalation was due to him being rude, unruly, entitled and possibly making threats. Yes he was “entitled” to the credit but don’t act like a prima donna. I have been top level of practically all hotel chains over the course of my career. Yes I like the benefits but don’t “demand” them. And maybe the guy said something like “if you don’t give me the credit I’m just going to take this” which would be theft. Even if due a credit you can’t just take items.

    Lots of Marriott bashing but frankly IMHO it is like people that bash a specific airline. All chains are pretty much the same with exception of Hyatt Globalist (Explorist is weaker than next to top tier with all competitors) so get over yourselves and pick who you want to stay with. More importantly quit bitching when you don’t get your way!

  7. Follow up – since hotel wasn’t named that makes me think the entire story may be made up just to slam Marriott. Otherwise why not give the specifics

  8. I stayed at a Four Points in a forgettable C-list U.S. city. I had lots of issues that included basic housekeeping issues (like getting a clean room) and them refusing to provide a breakfast benefit.

    They had no restaurant at the hotel, although their sister hotel down the street (a Best Western Signature Collection) had an open restaurant with breakfast. They were more than willing to sell me a breakfast package but wouldn’t provide what was required of them.

    I invoked compensation benefit. Anyways, the manager called the client (that client uses the hotel for their business) and threatened to have me evicted. I had to have my corporate counsel send a letter to the general manager informing him what tortious interference was and that we would vigorously protect our reputation.

    While I’m no defender of Marriott I will say that it’s generally inaccurate to blame Marriott for issues like what I experienced or what the person at the Courtyard experienced since Marriott doesn’t manage most of its hotels. Yes, Marriott could do a much better job in compliance and audits but there is very little Marriott can do to fix bad properties that technically comply with all the standards. For example, there is a little-known provision (section 4.1.c.ii) that allows a property to invoke an unspecified “local policy” to avoid providing otherwise required Bonvoy elite status benefits.

  9. Alan.
    You are one of the smart ones. It’s interesting to me, the “why”, those that continue to get shafted, by, not only my Alumni Marriott, but every Loyalty program available. The hotels must make money, and every Loyalty program, does just that.

    The hotels definitely will not, acquiesce to members complaints, because they don’t have a quorum. Here in, lies the dilemma, and you were wise enough, to see the writing on the wall. Bravo .

    I probably travel as much or more, than the average person on this blog. After perusing several Loyalty programs, in depth, I passed, and never looked back. Reading the war stories, just on this blog, have confirmed, I made the right choice.

    I am sure, I may be paying a little more more, in the long run, but I have peace of mind.

    I am looking to purchase, a private airplane, with 6,750+ NM range, so I always can leave when I want to, take up to, 12+ of my executives,. and spend the time, relaxing, not worry about what seat, or cheap wine, that you pay for premium, and control everything, from origin to destination, without, any layovers and getting my luggage checked, multiple times, and take any liquid in any amount. And not have to use filthy toilets on long flights.

    No points, no confusion, no arguing with flight attendants, etc. And live in peace, everytime, I take a trip.

    It’s the only way to fly.

  10. @Robert – I agree with you completely that chasing loyalty has lost a lot of its value over time. With exception of Hyatt Globalist the benefits are hit or miss (and even some Hyatt’s play games with them). I started traveling in the mid 80s and, at various times, was in consulting (ran a national practice), worked for a software vendor with clinics across the US and Canada and was an IT senior executive (CIO and CTO) of multi-billon $ national companies. The result after around 35 years of heavy travel before I retired was lifetime elite on AA and DL (2nd tier on both with around 3 million miles each), lifetime Marriott Titanium and 20 plus years as a Hilton Diamond (not lifetime yet since still a few hundred thousand points shy). In addition to my lifetime statuses, I have top (or next to top tier) with Hyatt, Hilton, IHG and lessor groups like Wyndham, Best Western, etc. On the airline front have Platinum United with status match and also match to other airlines and hotels to extent possible. Finally, Caesars Diamond Plus (from my gambling) and MGM Rewards Gold (Hyatt status match).

    The reason for saying this is I have the best of both worlds. Status with practically everyone I may use in travel but a true free agent who can travel with whomever best meets my needs for a specific trip without worrying about being on the hamster wheel of trying to earn “loyalty”.

  11. @ AC
    “since hotel wasn’t named that makes me think the entire story may be made up just to slam Marriott.”

    OP followed up and named the hotel as the Courtyard in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

    OP also adds that “I’m typing this right now from another (limited service) Bonvoy property that is going above and beyond”, which would be an odd thing to add in a story made up “just to slam Marriott”.

  12. The elite member DESERVES such treatment. Any person who still buys into the lie of Marriott elite benefits DESERVES such treatment. When will people learn?!?!?! The one surprise, though, is that the guest then asks the items be charged but the hotel person calls the police. Marriott has become Hertz. But, then, maybe it should not be a surprise.

  13. I was denied by elite welcome choice at a Moxy in NYC. The hotel justified it as the $10/person credit wasn’t an option that I could select from and the “Bonvoy Champion” ratified that decision. I posted about my experience in the breakfast thread in Flyertalk if you want more details.

  14. Mike.

    People who live in glass houses, shouldn’t throw stones.

    Name calling, is for a 6 year old. Make your point, no pun intended, and SHUT UP!

    Yesterday was Turkey day, and you are still here. .

  15. Hotel loyalty is no longer worth the effort. At one point or another I’ve been top tier on all the major hotel programs. The issue isn’t just with Marriott.
    Frankly, I wish the hotel companies would discontinue so-called loyalty programs. Obviously the hotel companies dislike them, franchisees hate them, and they are a source of irritation for the traveling public.

  16. DFWSteve.

    From the git-go, every Program with points, was purely to bulge bottom lines.

    They were geared to make everyone believe, it benefitted the program participant. Proper verbiage, and sexy inclusions, were too good, to turn down. And the titles of various levels, were impressive. Many on this blog, mention the level they have obtained and are great for the Ego’s, that lies within us all. Both men and women.

    Once the programs, didn’t produce the expected results, they started to change, many times, not privy to members. They only realized this, when they experienced problems with their own bookings.

    Years ago, I received an invitation to become a member of the Civic Entrepreneurs Organization, aka CEO’s in St. Louis. It was a very prestigious, by invitation only group of Civic leaders.

    So I can identify, with sexy titles. Fortunately, there were no points associated with the membership.

    We all, like to be special, and the points programs, take advantage of the ego within us. A real Psychological program, targeted to our egos. And, it worked. Thousands upon thousands, couldn’t wait, to move up the ladder to the next level. Boy, they had sexy titles. They, have “arrived!

    But olde man “time “, eventually took it’s toll. After, everyone was hooked. You were the talk, around the water cooler at work, every Monday morning, after you returned from a trip.

    Fast forward, to fall of 2022. Everyone, or close to everyone in loyalty programs, have something to complain about.

    Now what? What, if anything, will change in 2023 and beyond? One thing is for sure. Expect more changes and twice as many complaints. Are we (you) having fun yet?

  17. @Mike – so exactly why am I an idiot for not believing fully someone account of how they were mistreated (without any other viewpoint)? Also yes the programs promise certain things and I usually get what the program says (as noted in another reply I am top tier or next to top in practically every program). However I am not going to pitch a fit, especially over something like a $10 credit, and escalate it to the point police may be involved. Also I have traveled enough I roll with the punches and don’t act like I’m entitled. Those of you that do will only get frustrated. I can’t count the number of times someone says they didn’t get an upgrade they were “due” since they looked and it was still in stock inventory without understanding hotels hold those for sale (or upsale) and also just because a ailble now doesn’t entitle you to it for future days when it may be monitized. The programs are there to draw you in and maximize hotel profits, not be your personal charity, so get over yourself

    Also, as noted, I am a free agent and glad to be off the hamster wheel of earning status with anyone

  18. AC, the perks are written in black and white. Because you asked for something that a business offered to generate your business is not feeling entitled. If that perk is not going to be available, then don’t offer it. If you don’t complain you’re just inviting those entities to offer even more without the responsibility to fulfill the obligation. The $10 amount is moot. These entitled people, as you call them, didn’t ask for these perks, the company offered them, and I can’t express that enough. If you want to roll over and get kicked like a dog that is your prerogative. If a company says, do this and you’ll get this, then it should happen. A person should not have to monitor these situations and another person, YOU, should not belittle someone that is standing up for themselves.

  19. I opened case Marriott received case number. No response two weeks later. I closed my account forfeited my points.

    Thanks for posting

  20. AC, Mike

    MIKEY. Hahaha. You are Infantile, ignorant, and a complete wush. Yo mamma never taught ya how to grow up “BOY”!

    Everyone on this site, agrees with me.

    You need advance classes with Ms. Manners. Punk!

    Hahaha.

    AC. He’s not worth the time. He shows his ignorance and kindergarten talk. He’s a POS. Let him run his mouth. Everyone on this site, know about, “his” kind! Consider the source!!!

    MIKEY. GROW UP YOU WUSH! Ciao.

  21. AC.

    Mikey is too immature, to read your text. He will need to take it to his mommy, so she can read it to him. But he only knows the five letter word, idiot. Because, his mommy has been calling him an IDIOT, before he could walk. That was his first word he spoke.

  22. Robert, you seem to have a lot of anger and frustration. Hang in there buddy, tomorrow will be a better day for you I’m sure. I will pray for your mental state. Sorry I called you an idiot, it certainly was an insult to the idiots in this world. Apologies to you as well AC.

  23. My wife was a Marriott Rewards Lifetime Platinum, now a Lifetime Titanium member.

    IME, the benefits and the consistency of which the benefits were offered has gotten much worse since the merger with Starwood.

    Now I know that Starwood was even more generous than Marriott and I am sure that Starwood Elites are even more disappointed than my wife is.

    Mergers rarely improve things for the customer, they seem to greatly improve things for the company, it is just the way of things.

    One of our favorite hotels closed it’s Executive lounge during the pandemic and has kept it closed ever since.

    We were recently back and it was disappointing as the hotel gave us nothing more than a room. In the past we would have had access to a really great lounge, a great hot tub and a really nice gym.

    The gym was closed due to renovations which the staff said has been going on for two years.

    The lounge the staff said the lounge will probably never re-open and the hot tub will remain closed due to it being out of order for over two years.

    Marriott Corporate doesn’t care, most guests dont seem to care, so the few who do care lose out.

  24. The owners of the properties that go above and beyond, or at least provide the stated benefits should be most alarmed and frustrated by Marriott corporate not enforcing the rules. There are a few rogue operators ruining the reputation of the enterprise. I recently stayed at a legacy Starwood property as a Gold and got an upgraded room, free drinks at the bar (aside from the welcome amenity), and proactively offered late check-out. Before that I stayed at a legacy Marriott property less than a mile away and no recognition of elite benefits whatsoever.

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