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I’ve Been Bonvoyed: How Lame Marriott Customer Service Wore Me Down

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Marriott Bonvoy Customer Service

Marriott Bonvoy Customer Service

After ignoring Marriott for years, I jumped back in a couple months ago.  But I’ve already been Bonvoyed without even staying in a property.  As Ron Burgundy once keenly observed, “That escalated quickly.”  During my recent experience, I caught myself simultaneously thinking “how could this happen?” and “of course this happened.”  Perhaps some of you can identify.   For cathartic purposes, I’m sharing my disappointing Marriott Bonvoy customer service experience and how I plan to avoid it in the future.


We found ourselves with free night certificates and Bonvoy points to burn recently, primarily thanks to a solid welcome offer on the Marriott Bonvoy Business card in the fall.  The welcome offer bonus points and certs posted without issue.  I had my eyes set on a spring redemption of the FNC’s and a good chunk of points.  So far, so good.

Marriott Bonvoy Customer Service

Our Planned Booking

We just postponed our winter 2022 Disney World trip for a second time.  I found that the new Walt Disney World Swan Reserve was available for our seven night trip in the spring.  The 50k certificates I held thanks to the Business card matched up great with this hotel.  I would be able to redeem the certs at a property which intrigued us, and I wouldn’t have them hanging around unnecessarily.  No free night certificate problems this year.

Even better, pricing for our stay reflected that we could stack the fifth night free benefit on the points portion of the stay in addition to using two free night certs.  Instead of using 170k points and four free night certificates for a seven night stay, we could use 220k points and two free night certs.  We picked the latter over the former.  Essentially, we selected to hold onto two free night certs over 50k points.  Since each cert is redeemable for up to a 50k point per night stay, we were easily coming out ahead.

Here’s how the pricing broke down:

Marriott Bonvoy Customer Service

Points Transfer

Since we didn’t have enough points in one account for the reservation, we transferred about 85k Marriott points.  After ten minutes on hold, we accomplished this with a helpful Marriott representative.  Everything was on track for success.

The Wheels Fall Off

Next, it was time to book.  I reviewed the reservation and clicked Book Now.  I was greeted by this page: a close up of a message

Sure, Marriott, you’re on it.  But I tried to be glass half full here – I decided to quit for the night and try again the next day.  I got the same error page then.  My next task was equally obvious and dreadful – a call to Marriott Bonvoy customer service.

Phone Call #1

After about ten minutes in queue waiting, a monotone rep picked up.  I explained that I was unable to book online due to an error message and requested her assistance.  After repeating all the particulars for the reservation, the rep was surprised to see that she couldn’t book it, either.  I wasn’t.  She had to transfer me to “Loyalty Care” to make the reservation.

A Solution?

After a 15 minute wait, a bubblier agent picked up.  I explained the situation exactly as I had to the original rep, and, of course, I got the exact same response from this agent.  She was as equally puzzled as the first rep and put me on hold.  She returned to the call ten minutes later and happily reported she was able to make the reservation.  One catch – she requested that I call back “in a few hours or tomorrow” to confirm that the certs were attached to the reservation.  Alternatively, she said I could wait three to five business days for an email confirming the manual attachment of the certs.

I’ll spare you the next ten minutes or so of discussion.  Long story short – questions, sort-of answers, and politeness from each phone call participant.  When I asked how she made the reservation, she finally said it was currently a points advance reservation – basically the same thing anyone can do online.  She confirmed it’s a points advance reservation until the certs could be applied.

I thanked her and advised that I would wait for the email rather than calling back.  I felt I had spent enough time on the phone with Marriott that day.  Indeed, the call lasted one hour and 36 minutes.  I had a points advance reservation and a case number for my efforts.

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Phone Call #2

After three to five business days, I hadn’t received the email.  Fun times – another call was necessary.  For good measure, I didn’t call back until six business days had passed.  After ten minutes in queue, I provided the case number to a rep.  I waited another five minutes for the agent to review.  He said that due to a tremendous amount of calls and IT/system issues, the certs hadn’t yet been applied to the reservation.  He offered to attach the certs but warned that IT issues were ongoing.  At this point, I pulled the ripcord on the whole effort.  I requested that the agent cancel the reservation and case.

Why?  I was soundly defeated by the process.  I didn’t want to sink more time into a matter involving additional people, broken promises, and opportunities for screw-ups.  Looking ahead, I foresaw more phone calls, time on hold, re-explaining the same stuff, and waiting for emails that never show up.  I just wanted to be done.  Marriott Bonvoy Customer Service 1, Benjy 0.

How I Adapted

Another reason I gave up on this reservation is while we would benefit from the Reserve’s location, we weren’t in love with the hotel.  It’s still fairly new and seems to be working out the kinks.  Nonetheless, I knew I could book the same property online with four certs and 170k points.  But I haven’t yet.

a black and white logo
To the rescue.

Short Term

Instead, I booked the Doubletree Suites next to Disney Springs.  I’ve stayed here multiple times and enjoyed the property’s spacious rooms, dependable benefits, lack of stuffiness, and self parking ease.  I booked that online in about five minutes.  It seems to take that long for the clunky Marriott site to load.  Down the road, I may have a change of heart and book the Reserve based on how things develop.  I don’t expect to, though.

Long Term

During the process, I learned a lesson that many probably already have.  Some may think I’m a caveman for not knowing it already.  I will make every effort to never depend on support from a human with Marriott Bonvoy.  Not that I really wanted a person to help with this effort – I was forced into it based on a chintzy website.  I remain hopeful that I can use up my points and free night certs without any people involved in a future booking process.


Of course, it could have been worse.  I wasn’t on a vacation experiencing a Bonvoy beatdown.  Marriott Bonvoyed me out of my time.  I’ve otherwise found myself recently enjoying the trip planning and booking processes with hotel chains, airlines, activities, etc.  Dealing with Marriott Bonvoy is the complete opposite.  I feel it’s absolutely not a pleasure to work with Marriott.  Doing so seemingly requires wasting time, facing IT issues, and acquiescing to incompetence.  Marriott doesn’t seem to care, and neither do I.  I’ll continue my relationship with Marriott, but it’ll be purely transactional.  I’ll burn my certs and points and maybe go after the Brilliant card.  But there won’t be any loyalty building.  How have your recent Marriott Bonvoy customer service experiences been?

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. Folks,
    I remember when I received excellent service from seasoned professionals at Marriott Bonvoy
    It was pre-Covid. In 2020 Marriott lost thousands of experienced helpful CS Reps.
    only to be replaced with a bunch of barely trained rookies.
    Be patient, it will get better.
    No place to go hut up!

  2. I had called Marriott Bonvoyed at least 5 times just to use my 7 night partial night pkg. Everytime they made mistake of deducting points instead of attaching certificate. Marriott IT system does it intentionally to keep it broken so that customers give up and gets Bonvoted. What else can u expect from a Mormon company!!

  3. As far as the sleepy rep goes, I had the identical situation. The rep sounded as thought he just got out of bed or I interrupted his sleep. Totally uncommunicative and worthless. Transferred me to another agent who turned out to be in the wrong department. Finally, weeks later, got a good rep.

    Their customer service, once the paragon of excellence, has sunk to immeasurable depths. I keep my dealings with them to a minimum and have moved onto Hyatt.

    If you don’t like the service, vote with your feet. Leave and don’ t come back – at least for a long while.

    • Alan,
      Good perspective! Indeed, I did vote with my feet before. But the points brought me back. Given my current situation, it’s more about minimizing the pain since I inevitably won’t be able to avoid it with Marriott.

  4. Sorry Marriott typically sucks and while you may get a decent agent
    most of the time you don’t and have to escalate to get select reservations confirmed
    I’m not anti Marriott they have simply lost control of their call center quality & consistency.Starwood was vastly superior in every way
    Agents some are just mean and unhelpful though you may get lucky and get someone trained and informed

  5. I wish I could say this comes as a surprise. Imagine my reaction over the past couple years, when using Marriott free certificates – to find that their system somehow magically selects to use free night certs expiring later rather than sooner…now I’m not the conspiracy theory type…but it seems awfully suspicious. Took me forever to work that out – and then it happened again with their system. Once could be a fluke…but twice? smells bad. Watch them like hawks. They haven’t cared about their customers in a long, long time.

  6. My husband and I recently went to France, Portugal and Spain for a month. I used close to 2 million Marriott and Hilton points. My only issue occurred in Barcelona. I had received an email from Marriott that my 5 SNAs had been applied to a larger room. We arrived late at the hotel and this room wasn’t available. The woman explained that Corporate granted this upgrade without communicating with the hotel. I was visibly upset. “How could this happen? Blah, blah, blah.” Long-story short. If I agreed to stay in the room I had originally booked, we could stay in one of their three suites for the remaining 4 nights. Worked out fine but that was due to the ladies working the desk and not Marriott itself.

  7. Oh Benjy,

    Welcome to what most of us who are a glutton for Marriott punishment has to deal with. LOL!

    There are so many quirks to Marriott’s system that it’s not even funny…and most of the workarounds that work are found via lots of frustrations and anger.

    Unfortunately for my line of work I have to use Marriott. Like churches and liquor stores in major cities, Marriott seems to be on most corners…thus the reason to have to deal with them.

    Like it has been mentioned, if you can deal with making the separate reservations and then stringing them together, I wouldn’t count on a Marriott rep getting this right.

    Another tip for you, if you ever attach a suite night award to a reservation and for some reason needs cancel or adjust the reservation, be sure to cancel the SNA first and then cancel the reservation. If you attempt to just click the cancel button and hope that it works like it’s supposed to, then settle in for a round of calls like you just went through as they’ll have to get IT to restore the reservation so that they can cancel the SNA request and then the actual reservation so that your points/certificates can finally be restored.

    Asked me how I learned about this silliness? LOL!

    Hang in there, the more you deal with their system the more you’ll start to overcome their IT shortcomings and then booking with them isn’t terribly bad.

    • 2808 Heavy,
      Thanks for the perspective! You could probably tell by the article I lost all faith in Marriott reps during the calls – not that I had much/any before.

  8. There’s a glitch where trying to book with points & FNC in the same reservation will error out. The only solution is to book 2 separate reservations.

  9. Another thing that is annoying every time I make these type of calls to a hotel or airline, I get the “did you know x and y could be online?” message and a ton of automated prompts and selecting numbers, which drives me crazy because it can’t be done online, that’s why I’m calling!!!

  10. I think your issue is that the 5th night free only applies to 5 consecutive free nights paid with points (not certs). Maybe the agents can help you, but by the letter of the rules, what you want to do is not allowed.
    So normally, the advice would be to book the first two (or last two, or first and last) with the certs, leaving 5 in a row for the 5th night free. Separate reservations may make this simpler. But in your case, you can’t use the certs for the first or last, since those are pricing at 60K.

    If you can handle some uncertainty, you could book the middle 5 nights now as a 5th night free reservation, with separate points reservations for first and last. Sometime soon (end of March, maybe?) Bonvoy will start allowing you to top off the certs with points, at which time you could swap in the certs plus 10K to pay for first and last night. The risk is if Bonvoy’s upcoming flex pricing kicks in, those two nights could cost even more points.

    • swag,
      Your first paragraph summed up the predicament I realized before my first phone call. And yes, what you mention in the second paragraph will be possible with a little luck and patience. Both of those are wearing thin with me, though.

  11. Man that sounds tough. My experience with Marriott has been nothing but the opposite, including during an almost month long road trip last year where I was booking hotels same day or one day head. Stayed at a lot of Marriotts and had no problems at any time. Almost all reservations were made by phone, too, some from the road!

    Hopefully after this you will not have any more troubles.

    • Carl,
      Thanks for the positive thoughts! I won’t get my hopes up too much, though. I’m glad your Marriott experiences have gone smoothly!


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