Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Marriott and the Unexpected Non-Bonus: A Case Study in Bad Customer Experience

This just in from the Bad Customer Experiences Dept. (Yes, it's next door to the Bad User Experience Dept.)

After waiting on hold with Marriott Rewards for 30 minutes, I learned that they didn't credit any points for my June 5-9 stay at the JW Marriott Ihilani in Hawaii. In fact, as far as their records are concerned, I didn't even stay there at all: I simply parked in their parking garage a few nights and ate a few meals. In their words, it was an "incidental stay" only. Funny, I remember booking an actual room and sleeping in it 4 nights... and paying about $1600 for the privilege. 

I fell victim to the lure of convenience and booked a flight+hotel package through Alaska Airlines Vacations(The actual booking was $2,946.88, of which about $350 was rental car and $1,000 was airfare for two.)

Fool me once: Marriott decided this stay is not eligible for points. I suppose their reasoning is that since I "only" paid about $400/night instead of the usual $450, their points budget should justifiably drop from 10 x 450 x 4 = 18000 points all the way down to 0 x 400 x 4 = 0 points. This is exemplary MBA math that equates to terrible customer experience.

Unfortunately, they never notified me of this, and I didn't scrutinize my rewards account activity closely enough to notice something was amiss. So that set me up for the next big disappointment.

Fool me twice: I booked a weekend trip to Victoria a couple weekends ago. I logged into my Marriott Rewards account at that time and noticed the Unexpected Bonus promotion showed 1 stay; at 2 stays I would receive a free night certificate. So my wife and I turned down a second night in the fabulous Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe to stop in at the Marriott and score our "unexpected" bonus. 

Unfortunately, since the Hawaii stay was never actually credited as a stay, my unexpected bonus turned into an Unexpected Non-Bonus.

The joke's on me for assuming the customer comes first at Marriott.