Customer Service Gave Me 2x Marriott Free Night Certificate Extension
In a surprise move, Bonvoy customer service gave me 2x Marriott free night certificate extension. While I’m happy to brag about this surprise gesture, I think there’s a lesson here that could help others. Here’s a look at what started it and the ensuing discussion with Marriott. I’ll end with how you might be able to use this for a Marriott free night certificate extension, if you need it.
The Problem I Had
Long story short: like many people, my wife and I are sitting on a wealth of free night awards. We have 6 Marriott free night certificates expiring in August. We decided to use up 4 of these on a trip to Disney World and Universal Orlando in June.
Near Universal, I found a property (Residence Inn) listed at 30,000 points per night. These certificates are worth 35,000 points per night, so I always try to maximize them. On the last page of the reservation, it would not let me choose my certificates. I could only apply points to the reservation.
After multiple tries, clearing my internet history, using my wife’s computer…still the same problem.
Phone Call To Marriott
I called Marriott reservations, figuring they could make the booking for me. After providing the hotel name, dates, and my info, the employee got the same error I had. It would not allow him to apply my certificates. His only option was points or cash.
The whole reason for the booking was to use the free night certificates expiring August 1. I didn’t want to pay some other way, as it wouldn’t address the problem I wanted to solve.
He put me on hold and came back later to explain that the hotel doesn’t actually cost 30,000 points per night. That’s the reason we couldn’t use the certificates. During peak season, it costs 40,000 points per night. This was simply an IT problem of some sort.
In short: the website showed me and showed him a wrong price. My first thought was “I expect the price I saw to be honored.” The phone rep was ahead of me and said he was creating a ticket for someone to look into this. He requested that they honor the price I saw online (2 x 30,000 points per night, using my 2 certificates expiring August 1, 2021). Expect an answer within 3 days of whether they will honor the price.
Emails With Customer Service
Marriott customer service emailed me confirming that the correct price for the Residence Inn is supposed to be 40,000 points per night. The rep asked me for proof that I saw a price of 30,000 points. I replied that the phone agent created the ticket after he also saw this 30,000 points price, so they could confirm with him as proof, since I didn’t have a screen shot.
After confirming internally, they admitted that I saw 30,000 points and offered to honor the rate from their guarantee.
This created a new problem
Because my certificates are worth 35,000 points, there is no way to apply them against a reservation that costs 40,000 points. And there’s no way for the customer service rep to make the price different.
On night 1, I could pay with a 40,000 point certificate (expiring in December 2021) I got from my Titanium Elite choice benefit. I could pay for the 2nd night with 40,000 points. Then, he would credit 20,000 points back to me, making the price 60,000 points effectively.
Why I balked at first
While that gets me to the price I saw, it doesn’t really address the thing I wanted to resolve: my certificates. Going to the Residence Inn isn’t the thing I wanted to accomplish. I explained to the Marriott rep that my chief concern is a booking where I can use these before their expiry, and that I chose this property because it was close to the value of my certificates & in the right location. ‘Book this hotel’ was not my goal. ‘Use the certificates’ was my goal.
Marriott offers a compromise
As a compromise, Marriott offered a free night certificate extension. I was surprised they offered this without me even suggesting it. This accomplishes my goal of not losing the certificates to expiration, which I told him was my main concern. He offered to extend the certificates by a year from his first email, so April next year.
It also allows Marriott to honor their rate guarantee.
Lessons Learned On Marriott Free Night Certificate Extension
For the astute reader, I think you know where I’m going with this. Now that my certificates are extended, do I really have any emotional attachment to the Residence Inn near Universal Orlando? Nope. If I need to change hotels, I could move to something cheaper. I can have my cake & eat it too in this situation.
The lesson learned is that Marriott can easily extend your certificates if it helps them accomplish a goal at hand. I didn’t ask for it, but it’s handy to know that you could ask for this if you wind up in a situation where it’s relevant to addressing a problem. “My certificates won’t work because your website showed the wrong price” is relevant to your certificates.
I’m surprised this is how Marriott chose to honor their rate guarantee. I figured they would find a way to apply my free night certificates to the reservation, rather than offer an extension or some other solution. However, this is an interesting solution that I’m happy with because both Marriott and I got something we wanted.