How Not To Earn Loyalty points


I have been traveling heavily for over 20 years.  To those who don’t travel much, on their own or with their work, my world sounds very cool.  I must admit, I do like to travel.  But, not for the reasons you would think.  I don’t sightsee.  I don’t visit the clubs.  I might shop some.  Mostly though I like the quiet time in a hotel where I can catch up on work or continue reading a book.  I can stay up a little late watching TV.  Or just enjoy the new surroundings for a few days.

Heavy travel can mean heavy irritation.  So, I like to build as much routine as possible to limit surprises.  I fly Delta, I stay at Marriotts and I rent cars from Hertz.  Done!  But, after yesterday, that all has changed.  OK, I’ll still fly Delta.  They are based in Atlanta and go everywhere.  Sure, they are more expensive than the other airlines.  But, they are very generous with air miles with easy ways to use them.  I’ll still rent from Hertz.  Yes, they are the most expensive.  But, their Hertz Gold service is great and you can find them in every city in the world and in every part of that city.  And they too give rewards points generously to your program of choice (Delta!).  And then there’s Marriott.  They are a huge hotel chain with great hotels from the lowest (Fairfield Inn) to the highest (Ritz Carlton) ends of prices.  They too give points and easy ways to use those points.  But, I’ve just learned that Marriott doesn’t care about their loyalty program much anymore.  Here’s my story.

My wife and I went to Cancun last week to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.  I wanted this trip to be great.  So, I used American Express to put together a package for us.  We traveled business class from Atlanta to Cancun.  And we stayed in an ocean front room at the Ritz Carlton.  Had I needed to rent a car, it would have been from Hertz.  But, we chose to use private transportation to and from the hotel given its not so easy driving around Mexico.  And we really weren’t planning to go anywhere except for an excursion to Chichen Itza to see the Mayan ruins.  The trip was great.  Delta gave us our money’s worth (and our air miles).  And the Ritz was impressive.  I forgot to hand the hotel staff my Marriott card so I called them yesterday to find out what I needed to do to claim my points.  It was then I was informed I would not be able to receive any points for my stay.  They informed me that when I purchase Marriott stays through one of their resellers, I was not able to receive any loyalty points.  WHAT?  I thought this had to be a joke.  But no, it was no joke.  I was quoted the section in the Terms and Conditions which states that stays booked through 3rd parties such as Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz are not eligible for Marriott Rewards Points.

I then sent their customer support department a note on this.  I received back an email stating the same thing and in this email the representative copied the language from the T’s and C’s so I would fully understand.  Well, I guess I know where I, the loyal customer, stand.  The customer service rep on the telephone explained to me that by using a 3rd party to book my travel, all the profit went to them and not Marriott and thus they could not reward me for my loyalty.  I guess by using one of their resellers, I wasn’t being “loyal” by their defition.  So, this is their way of keeping costs in line.

Well, Marriott, it’s been nice knowing you.  But, I will not be staying in any of your hotels under any circumstances.  I will no longer stay at a number of hotels I have frequented over the years including:

– The Ritz Carlton at Amelia Island
– The Ritz Carlton in Cancun
– The Alpharetta Marriott
– The Springhill Suites in Jacksonville
– The Renaissance at Heathrow
– The Huntsville Marriott
– The Courtyards in Nashville and Brentwood
– The Courtyard at SFO (San Bruno)
– The Renaissance in Makati, PH (you sold this anyway)
– So many more in Chicago, Minneapolis, Tampa, Indianapolis, Dallas, Houston, Washington D.C., Boston and more.

I have no idea how many stays haven’t been counted.  While I spoke to the agent on the phone, I checked a stay I had made in St. Charles, IL in March and sure enough, I booked it with Expedia and it was not counted.

So, now I must find a new primary hotel partner.  Hilton?  Starwood?  Guess I better read the T’s and C’s first.




Tags: hotel, marriott, points

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