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Denial of Platinum Upgrade (St Regis Washington DC) - what would you have done?

Denial of Platinum Upgrade (St Regis Washington DC) - what would you have done?

 
Old Nov 27, 12, 3:07 pm
  #1  
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Denial of Platinum Upgrade (St Regis Washington DC) - what would you have done?

Had a suite booked at the Le Meridien Arlington for one night last Friday. Happened to look on SPG and noticed the St. Regis selling rooms for $139.75 (day after Thanksgiving, pretty empty in downtown DC). Le Meridien rate was flexible, so I called SPG, confirmed that there was an upgrade-able suite available at the St. Regis (there was - the Caroline Astor is standard suite available for 40k points), and booked a Superior King, expecting the standard suite upgrade. I then canceled the Le Meridien reservation, and minutes later, we headed over to the St. Regis, a 5-minute cab ride away from where we were.

On arrival, we were told no upgrade available (at all). I asked about the Caroline Astor suite, FDC said not available. I showed her the SPG website, but she didn't care. I then booked the Caroline Astor Suite (it was $269.75 instead of $139.75) and canceled the original Superior King reservation. She was surprised that I would do this. When the reservation made it across the desk to her, she called her manager over, and eventually we were upgraded to an even nicer St. Regis Suite. It is unclear whether there was actually a Caroline Astor suite available for occupancy, but no one disputed that one was available for sale.

All of this was at check-in time. I sent off the note below. We were both happy with the suite we got, but I believe I have a valid claim for the denial of a Platinum upgrade. Thoughts?




Starwood Customer Care:

I am writing to complain about the denial of my Platinum Upgrade benefit at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, DC. My reservation (#8xxxxxxx) was for one night, checking in on November 23, 2012. I booked a superior King for $139.75 plus tax. I called SPG to confirm that the "Caroline Astor Suite" was the Standard Suite at the property, to which I would be upgraded if one was available at check in. When I arrived at the hotel, I checked in and [name] told me that there was not a Caroline Astor Suite available. I logged on to starwoodhotels.com and showed her that there was one available for sale. She still said that there were no upgrades available, and denied the upgrade. I responded by booking the Caroline Astor Suite right there, from my phone, at the check-in desk (for $269.75 plus tax, on new reservation #7xxxxxxx), and cancelling the initial reservation. We waited a minute, and then [name] saw that I had indeed been able to reserve the very same suite that I should have received as a Platinum upgrade.

[name] called her manager over, who looked at the situation and said something like "oh, it was supposed to be off the market." I don't know what that means, but in any case, she apologized for the confusion and upgraded us further to a very nice St. Regis Suite. The room itself was excellent. However, I am writing to request a refund to my Starwood American Express card (ending *****) in the amount of $130.00 plus taxes, equal to the difference between the rate of room I booked initially and the rate I ended up paying. Alternatively, I would accept 10,000 Starpoints (one-half of a free night at this property).

I understand that there may have been some sort of mistake as to the listing of the Caroline Astor Suite on the SPG website. However, the room was still "available" to the extent that any customer could have booked it and received that suite or something nicer. There is no other way for a customer to know whether a suite is available than to log on and see what the hotel is selling. SPG even confirmed to me over the phone that the Caroline Astor Suite was the proper upgrade, and that one was available for sale. If the property made a mistake by listing a Caroline Astor Suite as available when it really wasn't, the loss from that mistake should fall on the property, not on me. I would not have stayed here had it not been for SPG's assurance on the phone that a Caroline Astor Suite was available for upgrade on the night in question.

Please refund my Amex $130 plus taxes, or alternatively credit me 10,000 Starpoints.

Thank you,

platbrownguy
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Old Nov 27, 12, 4:36 pm
  #2  
 
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Just because they didn't close out the suite on the website doesn't mean it was available. You were upgraded to a specialty suite which is above and beyond T&C. IMO this was a DYKWIA move and you aren't owed jack. I hope customer care doesn't give you anything back. You got what you paid for in both cases.
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Old Nov 27, 12, 4:45 pm
  #3  
 
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Hotels do deep cleaning and maintenance to rooms during slow periods - the rooms might of not been able to be occupied (i.e. drying paint, extermination, etc) and the front desk neglected to take them offline. The property did the right thing by upgrading you further to a premium suite. Since the platinum upgrade is for a select standard suite (a metropolitan or caroline astor at that property) based upon availability, they were not obligated to upgrade you to a St Regis suite on your standard room reservation. It was by your own choice you reserved the higher room category.

Did you ask the front desk if they had Metropolitan suites available? I know somebody who stayed there this weekend and got that as a pre-blocked platinum upgrade.
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Old Nov 27, 12, 4:47 pm
  #4  
 
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Originally Posted by dparkinson View Post
You got what you paid for in both cases.
I would say the OP got more than what he paid for, considering the St Regis suite is over 300 square feet larger.
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Old Nov 27, 12, 5:17 pm
  #5  
 
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another example of entitlement here on flyertalk, Airline and hotel program are so diluted that soon no one will be happen.

I've never received a suite I didn't book specifically in SPG but been treated well in both Hilton and hyatt. I still stay at SPG and have not complained about something like that.
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Old Nov 27, 12, 5:33 pm
  #6  
 
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Yep...DYKWIA for sure.

Last edited by Oxon Flyer; Nov 28, 12 at 8:55 am Reason: Remove unnecessary comment
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Old Nov 27, 12, 5:35 pm
  #7  
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Zero missing?

Originally Posted by jdawg View Post
I would say the OP got more than what he paid for, considering the St Regis suite is over 300 square feet larger.
Surely you must mean that this specialty suite is over 3000 square feet, although that's an extremely large one-bedroom suite. Roughly 300 square feet would be an ordinary hotel room, not particularly large. For example, standard rooms at new Westins and Sheratons come in at 315-380 square feet.
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Old Nov 27, 12, 5:53 pm
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That is what is wrong with SPG

Quite frankly guys, this is why I stopped using SPG exclusively - and now I'm only gold.. I had to work at staying PLAT - and I never felt that worked nearly as hard at offering us the benefits they describe in the book.. Consider the OP in airline terms.. As an EXPLAT who watches FC seats go empty while he/she sits in coach.. You would go bonkers.. The advantage that SPG has - is - exactly what the OP points out.. They can hide their inventory except what you see online.. I wish I felt like they did care, but now I always book exactly the room I want - and if the upgrade happens - it is purely a surprise not any form of an expectation..
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Old Nov 27, 12, 6:12 pm
  #9  
 
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Originally Posted by jdawg View Post
Did you ask the front desk if they had Metropolitan suites available? I know somebody who stayed there this weekend and got that as a pre-blocked platinum upgrade.
I'm curious about the timing of this as well. I stayed at the St. R DC on Friday arriving at about 3 PM. I am a 100-night Plat and I was pre-upgraded from the $139 Superior to a Premium Deluxe room.

When I checked spg.com that day (including just before I walked in) the only suites I saw were accessible (i.e. handicap-equipped) Metropolitan suites, so I didn't press the issue.

While I don't doubt that the OP did exactly what they said and that there was Astor Suite availability, I certainly don't think they're entitled to any additional compensation. I do think it's a good Corporate Customer Service complaint however.
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Old Nov 27, 12, 6:42 pm
  #10  
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Originally Posted by jdawg View Post
I would say the OP got more than what he paid for, considering the St Regis suite is over 300 square feet larger.
Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Surely you must mean that this specialty suite is over 3000 square feet, although that's an extremely large one-bedroom suite. Roughly 300 square feet would be an ordinary hotel room, not particularly large. For example, standard rooms at new Westins and Sheratons come in at 315-380 square feet.
the word "larger" is used at the end of jdawg's post. i.e. a relative measure as opposed to absolute.
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Old Nov 27, 12, 7:10 pm
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I could see this happening with no malpractice by the hotel.

Revenue management may see that all Caroline Astor Suites are sold. They have 3 St Regis Suites available. They know historically that there is a good chance someone making a last-minute booking may book a Caroline Astor Suite but less chance that someone will pay the significantly higher price for a St Regis Suite (and they don't want to lower the price point of their St Regis Suites). So they maintain Caroline Astor Suite availability on the website knowing that if anyone books that suite someone who has booked that category will receive a St Regis Suite instead. As there is no Caroline Astor Suite available in reality, there is no entitlement to a Platinum Suite Upgrade.

I don't see anything in the SPG Ts+Cs that says members have a right to access information about what actual rooms have people in them. It seems you are making the mistake of interpreting the Platinum Upgrade policy to mean that if the hotel has a standard suite for sale then you are entitled to a suite upgrade. The policy is if there is a standard suite available for occupancy (not just for sale) then you are entitled to a suite upgrade. There is nothing in the Ts+Cs that commits SPG or its hotels to provide total transparency to you regarding real availability.

Not saying this is what happened but it could explain what happened and you are demanding more than the SPG Ts+Cs provide for

Last edited by 3544quebec; Nov 27, 12 at 7:18 pm
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Old Nov 27, 12, 7:23 pm
  #12  
 
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Originally Posted by jdawg View Post
Did you ask the front desk if they had Metropolitan suites available? I know somebody who stayed there this weekend and got that as a pre-blocked platinum upgrade.
Do you mean the poorly laid out cool corner room?

Would they have made the OP wait in the bar area until exactly 4pm for check in?

Originally Posted by AlwaysAA View Post
Consider the OP in airline terms.. As an EXPLAT who watches FC seats go empty while he/she sits in coach.. You would go bonkers..

The advantage that SPG has - is - exactly what the OP points out..

They can hide their inventory except what you see online.. I wish I felt like they did care, but now I always book exactly the room I want - and if the upgrade happens - it is purely a surprise not any form of an expectation..
Yup, quite a few properties seem to do this...

Last edited by Oxon Flyer; Nov 28, 12 at 8:56 am Reason: clarifying
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Old Nov 27, 12, 9:11 pm
  #13  
 
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Originally Posted by Vuelos View Post
Do you mean the poorly laid out cool corner room?
Have you actually stayed at the St Regis Washington DC in said room?

Do you by chance also frequently analyze the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services?

I only ask because at over 600 square feet the Metropolitan suite is quite lovely and not at all cramped.
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Old Nov 27, 12, 9:14 pm
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Originally Posted by jdawg View Post
have you actually stayed at the st regis washington dc in said room?

Do you by chance also frequently analyze the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services?

I only ask because at over 600 square feet the metropolitan suite is quite lovely and not at all cramped.
Why yes, my degree is in both Communications and Economics. Though, I do prefer my husbands to be a bit taller. And thus, we need space.

Though, compared to the Park Hyatt DC standard room for a top tier elite I believe it is nothing special.

Last edited by Vuelos; Nov 27, 12 at 9:23 pm
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Old Nov 27, 12, 9:25 pm
  #15  
 
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Originally Posted by dparkinson View Post
Just because they didn't close out the suite on the website doesn't mean it was available. You were upgraded to a specialty suite which is above and beyond T&C. IMO this was a DYKWIA move and you aren't owed jack. I hope customer care doesn't give you anything back. You got what you paid for in both cases.
Have to say I agree.

Cheers,
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