This is a guest post by Eric Gunderson
Marriott Took Away My Platinum Status, Here’s How I Got It Back
In the midst of the Coronavirus, Marriott has been dealing with a lot of issues. This week, among other things, they finally got around to downgrading elites to whatever status they earned (or didn’t) in 2019. Some select customers received soft landings where they were downgraded only one level upon losing their status, for example Titanium to Platinum, rather than dropping all the way from Titanium to Silver or whatever they’d actually earned.
However, it seems most customers were dropped all the way to their 2019 earned level. Nick at the Frequent Miler wrote a more detailed post about that earlier this week. In my case, I’d earned 50-74 nights in both 2018 and 2019, securing Platinum status in both years, so there shouldn’t be a change at all. That being said, I’m sure you can imagine how surprised I was (well, not THAT surprised since this is Bonvoy after all) to discover I had merely Gold status upon logging in on March 23. Suffice to say, I was quite displeased!
Why Am I Loyal To Marriott?
Before I detail my call with Marriott, I should provide some reasoning why I am loyal to Marriott in the first place, in spite of the fact that they Bonvoy me frequently.
Here are a few reasons I am loyal to Marriott Bonvoy:
- St. Regis Love – My wife and I love St. Regis hotels, and we’re on a quest to stay at every single one in the world at least once. With my wife collecting their Butler Bears along the way of course.
- Huge Footprint – Marriott has the largest overall footprint, so you’re bound to find a Marriott property that fits your needs, just about wherever you go.
- Individual Property Loyalty – Most Bonvoy issues I’ve had were with corporate, not the individual properties themselves. Most hotels in the portfolio are franchised, and by their own admission, some have been Bonvoyed too.
- Travel Agent Perks – The last thing that makes Marriott invaluable for me personally is the amazing travel agent rates I can access, even for luxury brands like St. Regis. These are limited and subject to availability, but Marriott’s myriad hotels ensure I can usually find something on most nights. While the industry rates are great, they don’t earn elite night credits. Consequently, it can be quite difficult for me to reach 50 nights if many aren’t eligible, so I value every single one that I do earn. This certainly added to the urgency of my call to Marriott.
Upon discovering my new downgraded Gold status, I pulled up the app to call Marriott, which of course no longer routed me to the Platinum phone line. Thankfully, I was still able to quickly get through to a representative thanks to being recognized as a Gold member. I let her know that I’d been incorrectly downgraded, and after doing some checking she informed me that I’d only earned 43 nights. I replied that I stayed my official 50th night on New Year’s Eve in Paris.
Even though I had screenshots proving my 50 nights, it seemed those weren’t going to help with this rep. The best she could do was file a case and said that I might hear back in a week or so. Based upon my past experiences, it was likely that I might not get a response at all. As this was in my opinion not an acceptable answer, I waited for her to get a supervisor on the line.
Escalating To A Supervisor
After a brief hold, the supervisor got on the line. She was sympathetic and understanding, and she took the time to look into everything with me. We went through all the stays she had on record to get to what Marriott counted was 43 nights.
- Credit Card Elite Nights (15) – I earned 15 elite nights from my Bonvoy Boundless or my Bonvoy Business American Express. Even though I carry both cards I still only get 15 nights since the free nights do not stack.
- Meeting Elite Nights (10) – I also earned 10 elite night credits from Marriott Meetings, though that option was removed this year.
- Regular Stays – The rest of my nights were from regular cash or award stays
Eventually, we determined that my 7-night stay at the Renaissance Paris La Defense December 25 – January 1 was not showing up in their system. It had originally posted on January 3 and credited correctly to 2019, yet they had no record of it now. Perhaps it was because my 7-night category 1-4 travel package certificate may have been incorrectly attached, as Ritz Carlton club upgrade certs were inexplicably attached as well.
The stay wasn’t even listed in my Bonvoy account on their end, even though I could still see it in my account activity. Eventually, I was able to prove I had earned the nights and that they had originally credited properly to 2019. What saved me were my 5 suite night awards. How could I have gotten those without 50 nights?
More Red Tape
The supervisor agreed that the only way I could have those 5 suite night awards is if I’d earned 50 nights in 2019. There is no other way to get those on your account. Even considering this revelation, she basically told me the same thing as the previous rep, that she didn’t have the power to correct the situation herself and had to file a case. I give her credit though because she was quite thorough with what she documented, and she requested in the notes that someone get back with me later that night if at all possible.
Asking For Compensation
I still wasn’t satisfied with having to wait for a resolution that could potentially take days or longer. Because of not getting a resolution I requested that she give me 40,000 points, which I understood to be the maximum number a supervisor is generally allowed to offer. Unless of course, she was willing and able to offer more.
Given the inconvenience of an hour-long call and still having to wait for a resolution, after a brief hold, she awarded me the points and they posted almost immediately. She even followed up with the following email summarizing our conversation.
I was pleasantly surprised and grateful to receive this email response the following morning.
I’ve got my Bonvoy Platinum status back, and I’m 40,000 points richer! Thankfully this is one situation that was successfully resolved. I will say that while I’ve had several issues with Marriott since the merger, some never resolved, they are getting better. They still have work to do, but response times and follow-through as well as general service are improving. They have many amazing reps who want to help but simply need to be given the training and, more importantly, the tools to take their own initiative to help best assist the customer. Hopefully, when the Coronavirus situation is over, these people will have been and continue to be treated well by a company that desperately needs them and their excellent attitude towards service.
It was ultimately my suite night awards that helped prove my case to Bonvoy this time. That is why keeping good records, screenshots of your account, emails, and notes of any prior issues is helpful to prove your case should any issues arise. This applies to all of your accounts, especially now in the current uncertain times, which will inevitably result in some unexpected and undetermined changes to these programs.
Has anyone else been downgraded from their legitimately earned status with Marriott or Bonvoyed in any other way? Let us know in the comments below.
Thank you to Eric Gunderson for doing this guest post.