Hyatt Diamond Book Without Points
One of the cool things you figure out about loyalty programs is that they often have unwritten rules and benefits that most people don’t know about. Sometimes these perks are to be kept quiet and other times they are simply courtesies and thus aren’t guaranteed.
For example, one such courtesy that Hyatt gives to Diamond members is the ability to book an award without actually having the points in your account. Again, this is a courtesy and not a guaranteed benefit under the program (as in if you do it too often they probably will cut you off), but they have been known to do this for loyal members and I have taken advantage of it exactly twice over the years.
Not Something to Abuse
The first time I used this perk was last year in Europe. I was on a train when space opened up at a hotel I wanted and I didn’t want it to go away. I contacted Hyatt, they booked the award for me, I showed up at the hotel, transferred the points in and all was well. The second time I used this courtesy was on a stay at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong a few days ago.
Similar to the first time, when I saw space open up at the hotel, I wasn’t in a place where I could easily transfer Ultimate Rewards, so I asked the Hyatt Twitter team to book the hotel for me. Award space for the nights I wanted had not been available, so I wanted to get this booked given that it had opened up. After initially saying they couldn’t book it, the Twitter team was able to get the booking confirmed.
Being Careful when Checking-In & Out
When I showed up at the property, I still hadn’t transferred the points in (it was less than 24 hours after the reservation was made). At the end of the check-in process after giving me the key, the agent had me sign a paper with a nightly rate on it. She explained that since the points were not yet in my account, this would be the nightly rate if they weren’t there upon checkout. I confirmed that they would be there when checking out and she said that would be fine.
My dad and I stayed two nights at the hotel and really enjoyed it. The day before checking out I transferred in 50,000 points to cover our two night stay just like I had discussed when checking in. Just to make sure everything was fine, when checking out I went to the front desk, confirmed the final bill with the agent (all I owed was 108HKD for a movie my dad watched) and received a print out. He confirmed the points were in my account and said they would be deducted. I thought it was all settled.
Well, apparently it wasn’t, because yesterday I received an email from the Front Office Manager. It said the following:
I am pleased to attach a copy of the hotel bill from your stay as well as the credit card receipt. Kindly be informed that we have taken the liberty of charging your hotel bill the amount of HK$9,240.- to your Visa credit card on file.
To be clear, that amounts to about $1,200 USD for the two nights. Of course I responded immediately and asked why he would charge me given that it was an award reservation. I figured it would all be settled quickly given that this was a misundertanding. After all, the points were there before checkout and are still there for them to take. But he responded with this:
On arrival you had only 12,030 points this was not sufficient points in your account for the stay (one night is 25,000 points) and so your reservation was amended to Best Available Rate and I understand that you were informed of this on check in and you signed your agreement on the Registration Card accordingly.
Except I wasn’t told that upon check-in. I very clearly told the agent that the points would be there before checkout and she said it was alright. After all, if I had been told I would be charged $600 per night, why would I have not sat down in the lobby and transferred the points before checking in? By the time I received the above response I had explained that both the check-in and checkout agents had confirmed my award stay, but he didn’t care. It seemed to me that he was trying to pull a “gotcha” on me.
After reading his response, I wrote back saying that I felt I had been lied to and misled by the front desk and he said he would “investigate” over the weekend. Except what did he need to investigate exactly? I am not trying to get something for free. I booked on points and the points are there. His “investigate” response is where I had had enough.
Don’t Back Down When You Are Right
In this scenario I:
- Confirmed with the check-in agent that I was going to transfer the points into my account before checkout and she confirmed that was alright.
- Went to the front desk and checked out personally and received a print out showing my final bill. I discussed the points situation with the agent then as well. In fact, I signed a final bill of 108HKD and a credit card receipt when checking out.
Because I was careful in dealing with the front desk and was not willing to let them investigate while holding $1,200 of my money, I responded the following way:
- I let him know that I would be contacting Hyatt corporate regarding the unauthorized charge.
- I asked him to have the general manager email me.
- I asked him why he felt it was correct to charge me the rack rate for a room I had booked on points considering the points have been available in my account to pay for the room since before I checked out of the hotel.
After my stern response he quickly agreed to reverse the charge and apologized. He said he didn’t know of my conversations with the front desk staff. Except, he sort of did. He knows I went to the front desk that final morning and he knows I signed a final bill of 108 HKD and a credit card receipt for 108HKD. He was just trying to get the $600 USD per night revenue instead of whatever Hyatt is going to pay for the award stay. I also told him of my conversations with the front desk several times before he agreed to reverse the $1,200 charge. It was only when I mentioned corporate and his GM that he backed down.
So what is the point of this post? Well, if you are a Hyatt Diamond then perhaps you learned that sometimes Hyatt will give you a courtesy of booking a room without the points in your account. If they do that you should probably make a point of having them there before checking in to avoid a problem. With that said, this post is also about how to deal with abusive behavior by a hotel. Be stern, escalate quickly and stand up for yourself. This guy was in the wrong and once he knew his boss and the entire company would hear about it, he quickly changed his tune.