Charged both points and cash

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Old May 14, 18, 2:28 pm
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Charged both points and cash

Back in mid-March I attempted to make a reservation in Philadelphia for a mid-May weekend stay. The Starwood website listed rooms available at a "special event" rate well above what I would normally expect the property in question to charge, so I looked into booking an award stay. I am SPG Gold, but I could not book the award via the website; instead the free nights option said: "PLEASE CONTACT US TO REDEEM YOUR FREE NIGHTS."

Prior to this I had never called to book an award, so I didn't know what to expect. The SPG agent I spoke with offered to call the hotel and confirm availability for a Gold award. After holding for a bit the agent said that since the property was in high demand for my specific dates the manager was asking for my credit card number to guarantee the reservation; if I needed to cancel for any reason I'd be billed the full "special event" rate. Knowing that I'd definitely use the reservation, I didn't mind this proviso, so I happily gave my card info over the phone and quickly received a confirmation email with subject: "Your Free Night Award Confirmation" which detailed the property name, dates and points amount. Immediately after receipt of the email the points deduction showed up in my SPG account activity.

Two days later my card was charged for the revenue rate. I understood this to be the guarantee that I had been advised would be held to secure my award reservation.

My stay concluded this past weekend, and we were running late for an appointment when we checked out early, so the front desk said a copy of my final folio would be sent to my email on file. This morning when I got my email the statement listed a "deposit" for the full special rate amount + some additional minor taxes.

As soon as I was able I called the SPG support number and spoke with an agent. Today's agent also called the property and spoke to someone at the front desk who insisted that "I could not switch" from a revenue stay to an award after the fact. I am, of course, attempting no such thing - the reservation, confirmed by both [email protected] and my own account's activity detail as an award stay, was improperly billed both the full revenue AND award cost. The SPG agent proposed to refund the points, but I don't want the points back - if I felt the revenue rate was a better deal than the points, I would have booked the revenue rate. The amount of the deposit (in excess of $975) is worth well more to me than the 20,000 points paid, and I want my money back. I feel like I have already given them a two month interest-free loan for almost $1,000.

The agent said she'd send an email "to the billing department", but based on my conversation with her, I'm not too hopeful. What are my options if they continue to refuse to refund the deposit? I have never filed a dispute with a credit card company, but I am very seriously considering doing so in this case if needed since I have all the documentary evidence I feel should be necessary to prove their mistake. I'd like that to be a last resort though - what other options do I have?
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Old May 14, 18, 4:11 pm
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Given you received a confirmation e-mail of the award reservation, It's crazy to me that the SPG agent would even suggest to refund the points.

We'll see what the property's response is, but asking for prepayment of a deposit seems like a really sneaky way to charge a revenue rate. Name the property, please.
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Old May 14, 18, 4:19 pm
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Originally Posted by gengar View Post
given you received a confirmation e-mail of the award reservation, it's crazy to me that the spg agent would even suggest to refund the points.
+1

Originally Posted by gengar View Post
name the property, please.
+1,000
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Old May 14, 18, 4:28 pm
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There is absolutely no question that they should refund the cash. I can't even imagine why there would be any question when you received an email confirming your points redemption.
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Old May 14, 18, 4:33 pm
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Originally Posted by kopflyer View Post
Back in mid-March I attempted to make a reservation in Philadelphia for a mid-May weekend stay. The Starwood website listed rooms available at a "special event" rate well above what I would normally expect the property in question to charge, so I looked into booking an award stay. I am SPG Gold, but I could not book the award via the website; instead the free nights option said: "PLEASE pCONTACT US TO REDEEM YOUR FREE NIGHTS."

Prior to this I had never called to book an award, so I didn't know what to expect. The SPG agent I spoke with offered to call the hotel and confirm availability for a Gold award. After holding for a bit the agent said that since the property was in high demand for my specific dates the manager was asking for my credit card number to guarantee the reservation; if I needed to cancel for any reason I'd be billed the full "special event" rate. Knowing that I'd definitely use the reservation, I didn't mind this proviso, so I happily gave my card info over the phone and quickly received a confirmation email with subject: "Your Free Night Award Confirmation" which detailed the property name, dates and points amount. Immediately after receipt of the email the points deduction showed up in my SPG account activity.

Two days later my card was charged for the revenue rate. I understood this to be the guarantee that I had been advised would be held to secure my award reservation.

My stay concluded this past weekend, and we were running late for an appointment when we checked out early, so the front desk said a copy of my final folio would be sent to my email on file. This morning when I got my email the statement listed a "deposit" for the full special rate amount + some additional minor taxes.

As soon as I was able I called the SPG support number and spoke with an agent. Today's agent also called the property and spoke to someone at the front desk who insisted that "I could not switch" from a revenue stay to an award after the fact. I am, of course, attempting no such thing - the reservation, confirmed by both [email protected] and my own account's activity detail as an award stay, was improperly billed both the full revenue AND award cost. The SPG agent proposed to refund the points, but I don't want the points back - if I felt the revenue rate was a better deal than the points, I would have booked the revenue rate. The amount of the deposit (in excess of $975) is worth well more to me than the 20,000 points paid, and I want my money back. I feel like I have already given them a two month interest-free loan for almost $1,000.

The agent said she'd send an email "to the billing department", but based on my conversation with her, I'm not too hopeful. What are my options if they continue to refuse to refund the deposit? I have never filed a dispute with a credit card company, but I am very seriously considering doing so in this case if needed since I have all the documentary evidence I feel should be necessary to prove their mistake. I'd like that to be a last resort though - what other options do I have?
I would NOT wait to see whether SPG gets a response to from the hotels billing department. I would call the hotel during daytime business hours and talk to a hotel manager and/or billing department supervisor right now! I would insist that they begin the process of issuing a credit back to my credit card immediately (which can take a while until it is applied to your account) and I would let them know how much this has inconvenienced you as Iím sure youíve had to pay this charge already to avoid paying interest on it. Is they have any questions, you can forward your email confirmation to them and/or they can call SPG to verify the points were deducted from your account when you booked the reservation. Donít wait any longer!

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Old May 14, 18, 4:50 pm
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You seem to have the proof for a credit card charge back. Threaten them with that but first I would expect a Lurker to lend a helping hand in your instance.
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Old May 14, 18, 4:59 pm
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If I had a Lurker working on my case, I would definitely wait for a response. But since you said that the phone agent was not very effective in helping you solve your problem even when they called the hotel, I donít think Iíd wait. I think Iíd call the hotel myself. (Just sharing what Iíd do in this case)
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Old May 14, 18, 5:43 pm
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The clock is ticking!!!

If I read this right the charge has been on your CC for 60 days? You may be too late to initiate a chargeback. Many banks have a 60 day limit so that might not be an options anymore and the property just might know that. The proper way to have handled this is for the property to hold your information and bill you if you didn't show up. I am suspecting less the scrupulous property management. Naming the property might get you some responses of similar activity there.

I suggest escalating this with an SPG supervisor and press for them to get the property to refund your money. Also, you may be able to call your CC to let them know what happened and ask if they can suspend the charge so you get credit back for the payment and maybe see if they can help you get the attention of the property management. Chargeback fees can hurt and the ding on their merchant record may inflict higher rates when it's time to renew their agreement.

But regardless, move first thing in the morning!
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Old May 14, 18, 5:44 pm
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Originally Posted by ExpatSomchai View Post
...I would expect a Lurker to lend a helping hand in your instance.
We can at least try to get the ball rolling, but we have to be asked first.

@kopflyer - The stay details would have to be sent to the email address below in order to do so.

Best regards,

William R. Sanders
Social Media Specialist
Starwood Hotels & Resorts LLC

[email protected]
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Old May 14, 18, 7:17 pm
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I had something like this happen at a hotel in Virginia. Hotel wouldn't take calls, or would say you have to speak to so-and-so, so-and-so only had a voice message and never called back, and a manager was never available. So I filed an online consumer protection complaint and got the refund plus 5000 apology points within a few days (for Virginia it was here: https://www.oag.state.va.us/consumer...le-a-complaint). Sucks to have to get the attention of a property this way, but I felt like it was a better option that pursuing it with Amex, who might just credit me out of goodwill without bothering to ding the property for its malfeasance.
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Old May 15, 18, 8:16 am
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Thanks for the advice - I reached out to the Lurker-provided email address and already got a response that they've "...highlighted this matter to the relevant team to look into it..." With the letter to the billing department from the call center and the spgchampion support I'm somewhat more hopeful this gets resolved amicably.

I hesitate to name & shame the property because I don't actually know who goofed - it seems likely that, as suggested, the property was acting sneaky, but it's also possible the spg call center coded the reservation wrong or something. All I know is that someone made a mistake and so far I'm the one getting a raw deal.

I'd prefer to let the responsible parties determine that my accounting of the facts is accurate and allow them time to make it right. If the property management is found to be at fault and they continue to act in bad faith I will gladly recommend avoiding their hotel, which would be a shame because we really did have a lovely time while there.
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Old May 15, 18, 8:22 am
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Originally Posted by kopflyer View Post
Thanks for the advice - I reached out to the Lurker-provided email address and already got a response that they've "...highlighted this matter to the relevant team to look into it..." With the letter to the billing department from the call center and the spgchampion support I'm somewhat more hopeful this gets resolved amicably.
Yes, you are in good hands.[/quote]
I hesitate to name & shame the property because I don't actually know who goofed - it seems likely that, as suggested, the property was acting sneaky, but it's also possible the spg call center coded the reservation wrong or something. All I know is that someone made a mistake and so far I'm the one getting a raw deal.

I'd prefer to let the responsible parties determine that my accounting of the facts is accurate and allow them time to make it right. If the property management is found to be at fault and they continue to act in bad faith I will gladly recommend avoiding their hotel, which would be a shame because we really did have a lovely time while there.[/QUOTE]
Mistakes will happen even with the best of businesses. How they recover from them is the true measure of a good business. Having the full story allows us to make better decisions who to do business with.

Good luck.
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Old May 16, 18, 12:48 am
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Originally Posted by kopflyer View Post
I hesitate to name & shame the property because I don't actually know who goofed - it seems likely that, as suggested, the property was acting sneaky, but it's also possible the spg call center coded the reservation wrong or something. All I know is that someone made a mistake and so far I'm the one getting a raw deal.
The property in question already rejected your version of the events, despite you having clear evidence that your version is the truth - at that point, I don't think it matters who originally actually goofed.
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Old May 16, 18, 2:02 pm
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Originally Posted by gengar View Post
The property in question already rejected your version of the events, despite you having clear evidence that your version is the truth - at that point, I don't think it matters who originally actually goofed.
To be fair, the second (post-stay) call center agent did say that it was the front desk (she was unable to reach a manager) who rejected the idea of switching a stay to points post-stay. Since that's not what I'm trying to do, I have my doubts about how well the facts were communicated by the agent & understood by the front desk. I am confident that the call center agent did fully understand the circumstances when she wrote the letter to the billing dept - before hitting send she stated that their internal records supported my claim.
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Old May 16, 18, 6:56 pm
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Definitely log a credit card dispute ASAP. You can always cancel it if the issue is resolved, but if you miss the bank's deadline, you're SOL.
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