We all know things have not been going well with Marriott post-merger, despite the pretty picture the company tries to paint in the media. Marriott has been radio silent when it comes to addressing the myriad of customer complaints, to the point that angry customers have organized a website, a Twitter account @Bonvoyed, and a hashtag to air their grievances. Despite this, the company continues to wax poetically about expansion plans and asking customers to vote for the program at the Freddie Awards (yeah, seriously!). If you’re wondering, “How bad could it be?” I’ve rounded up some examples of people getting Bonvoyed, with a little help from the folks who brought you the Bonvoyed website.
11. Vacation club scam
Frank (Silver elite)
“Was told when I bought points at Vacation Club that I would be lifetime Platinum then I call Bonvoy and they tell me that program has been discontinued.”
10. Marriott customers are not alone in their suffering
Job Type: Customer Service
Length of Employment: 5
I work out of one of the Marriott call centers and I really feel we have suffered as much as our guests. At one time, guests who are either legacy Marriott or Starwood members enjoyed contacting us to book travel or assist with their account. Now members have to suffer through an automated prompt, pretty much encouraging them to not contact us, and then suffer through extremely long hold times. This leads to less happy guests which in turn makes our job not as enjoyable.
A large portion of my shift consists of posting missing stays or refunding points from canceled certificates. It seems like the push for members to do more on the app or website has not decreased call volumes which was probably the original intent. I appreciate the quality of our hotels, but the IT and customer relation issues really cause a lot of frustration at our responsibilities and abilities. I will do the best for our guests and my company, I will not unnecessarily transfer guests or hang up on them. I just want my company to do the same and display the values of hospitality and customer service.
9. No-show fees
Scott (Lifetime Titanium)
“Booked on points The Courtyard Copley Center in Boston. Canceled 2 days prior by calling the hotel directly They politely canceled my trip, then billed my AMEX a $537 “No Show” fee. Been battling with the property and the Marriott ‘Elite’ desk for 5 months now trying to get a refund. #Bonvoyed”
8. And another one
Seth (Lifetime Gold)
“Status means nothing at Marriott. My wife booked two rooms for a family vacation. On the way to the airport, we called to confirm the hotel and they said the reservation did not exist. She spoke to two managers who apologized and said the hotel is booked. We ended up booking at another Mariott last minute and paid more for the rooms. Of course, Marriott could not find the rooms but still charged us for the rooms as a “no-show.” I could not believe that they caused us a lot of undue stress and anger and then charged us. We called Marriott and the hotel over 5 times (never a call back) to get the refund. One of the people helping us said that the phone reservation person entered the Marriott number off by one number in the reservation, so much for “Gold Service” lines. Marriott still will not get back to me on it – despite emails saying they will. Status means nothing on Marriott anymore. SPG was great as a gold member. I am also Hilton Gold and IHG Platinum — both of which I am using more now.
7. “Your call is important to us.”
Stephan (Titanium, Lifetime Gold)
Enough said, I think…
6. “We care about your privacy.”
Shane (Gold elite)
“The only thing they didn’t release apparently was my DNA sequence…”
5. The classic bait and switch
Erin (Gold elite)
“I enrolled in a Platinum challenge on 1/5/19 with requirements to stay 16 nights by 4/30/19 to earn Platinum status. Based on this challenge, I booked hotel stays for 24 nights starting 1/7 – 3/19 (34% of days, during a 70 day period). Since then Marriott informed me that I never registered for the Platinum challenge and only Gold (which I did not consent to) even though I have the challenge in writing from a Marriott representative. When I’ve called I wait on hold for up to 1.5 hours, possibly disconnected, told they have no record of my Platinum challenge, and that my ticket wasn’t filed correctly. Then Marriott reroutes or reissues a ticket and tells me to call back in four days. I have 30 tickets open on this one issue! Additionally, after each stay, none of my trips register points or nights. After I check out, I have to call, sit on hold, manually calculate my points, and get each night individually added. Help!”
4. Confused about Marriott affiliation
Carl (Gold elite)
“We recently spent time at a Spanish and German Marriott who didn’t even know that they were part of the Marriott program. We even used points to book the rooms, but the Spanish ex-SPG hotel told us that they are independent and are not affiliated with Marriott. No privileges, literally the worst room in the hotel by far (the staff knew all about our room), and just lousy service. The German ex-SPG hotel then tried to charge me over $50 for the hotel room even though it was my Marriott FREE night and it wasn’t a resort or destination fee. They said that they were not getting enough for the room from Marriott so I had to pay the difference! A manager finally waived the charge, but are you kidding me? It took 15 minutes to get the charge waived. I could go on and on, but Marriott has been awful on numerous fronts since the merger. Oh, and we were not only part of the Marriott/SPG data breach, but we had thousands of dollars charged to our SPG card. I know that the breach came from Marriott because the same day that happened, my SPG account was hacked and the credentials that were used for the credit card and the website were unique to SPG so I could track them (I have my own mail server so I can create all the usernames and e-mail addresses I need to track things by company).”
3. Status confusion
Simon (Titanium, Lifetime Gold)
“I eventually got a reply to my email sent on 20 July on 15 October 2018 (3 months). With 9 platinum years and 588 nights, I am informed that my status year for 2018 will be credited at the end of the year and if I have achieved 600 nights I will become life platinum. In March 2019 when I follow up on this, Marriott apologises for the confusion that led me to believe that 2018 was my 10th year…… Am sorry I was not confused I was informed by Marriot that this was the case. So in 2018, I completed my 12 nights (approximately US 1,800) in 2018 and now am told I have to get 50 more nights (approximately US 7,500) to get what was promised. Isn’t this just a plain case of fraud???”
2. 110 million complaints
Job Type: Customer Service
Length of Employment: 3
“Marriott had a motto “Take care of the associates and they will take care of the guests.” In April of 2018 Marriott rolled out their new “Service Delivery Module.” Simultaneously, they stopped taking care of the associates. Before SDM, there were several departments to contact. Sales, customer care, rewards, etc. Now, no matter who you call, you are getting a sales rep.
If you need to get sent to “loyalty” you are getting a sales rep with only three hours of copy and paste training. If you get sent to “elite” they get an additional two hours of the same training. And just to add, it was SPG employees leading the training. An entire new reservation system was forced on us that barely works because Marriott didn’t want to pay Oracle to use the system they had been using before.
To add to this, the agents were able to call supervisors who would help them fix things. The supervisors are now ordered not to help. A case has to be opened for every complaint. Cases are “supposed” to be resolved in three to five business days, but when I left, there were cases that were four months old and still unresolved. The cases started in April. I’ve been told that since then, they have reached 110 million cases.
When the changes started in April, agents that had worked there for 20 years were walking out in the middle of their shifts. The company scrambled to hire many people with bare minimum training. There are a lot of agents that are just terrible. There are still those who want to help but can’t. Even the former SPG agents are new to all of the system changes.
Marriott tried to change 50 things at once simultaneously, but they needed to change one thing at a time.”
1. Involuntary early checkout
The most interesting example of getting Bonvoyed goes to @puno_mike, who shares his tale of essentially getting kicked out of his hotel room. You can read the full thread, but the gist of it is as follows: Mike stored his bags in his room, went to the lobby to grab a beer and when he returned, the TV was turned on and his bags were missing. If you’re thinking, “haunted hotel” you’re wrong. The staff has simply removed his items and given the room to another guest. If you’re also thinking the hotel probably rebooked him, you’re wrong on that front too, because the place was sold out. The staff walked him to two different hotels before he finally settled in.
But that wasn’t the end of the saga! Mike then receives a text message from the hotel’s General Manager, who calls the flub a “rookie mistake,” guilts him about his resignation, then ends the text with a classy, “Karma is a bitch.” The fish rots from the head down, I guess.
Marriott needs to focus on improving their customer service and IT issues before undertaking any overly-ambitious expansions. After all, if you continue to upset your most loyal customers, you won’t have anyone to fill those rooms.
If you’ve been Bonvoyed, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.
[Image Source: Shutterstock]