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.
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.
Marriott dropped to the bottom of my list in early March of this year. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, our company decided to cancel the meeting in PDX for this year. As soon as the company canceled the meeting, I called the hotel directly to let them know. I called directly because I was inside the 48 hours to cancel without a charge. Explained the situation and was told they would have to talk to the manger about not charging for the one night- cancellation policy. Look at my credit card two days later and they had already processed the charge. Called back and was told there was nothing they could do about it. No customer service at all! Hell, the airline I was supposed to fly to PDX gave me a credit for the full amount – no questions asked. (and know it wasn’t Southwest)
I will stick with Hilton, better service, better rewards and better people!
Thanks to this article I checked my status and discovered that I’d been downgraded from Gold to Silver. I knew I was borderline, but had been given a courtesy extension of my Gold status because of a series of bad experiences I experienced with my account during the merger, and some lengthy collaborations I had with one of their old SPG supervisors to resolve not only my own technical issues, but software problems in general. That individual awarded me the Gold status into 2019.
I was thrilled, last June to receive an email from Marriott Bonvoy saying that my Gold status had been renewed “Through 2020”. It cited that I’d spent the requisite $35,000 (which I hadn’t… but I had figured the good-will status I’d gotten out of my merger issues had helped me get this bonus). I’m also thrilled that somehow I kept that email!!
As a person with low status, I decided not to press for a supervisor to resolve it immediately. I allowed the agent to open a case. She says it should be resolved in 3-5 business days. I’ll give them 7 business days.
We’ll see how it works out. For good or for bad, I’ve actually divorced from Marriott this year, choosing to switch my credit card spending to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. I was always a loyal SPG member. Marriott? Meh! But thanks again for writing this article, Mark Ostermann. I wouldn’t have noticed for some time otherwise.
I left Marriott when they first killed the loyalty program. And when the “kill the loyalty program” went viral with the rest of them I just stay with Expedia. At least you know what you get with their program and also can use any property.
Loyalty in the hotel programs is dead. It won’t be back anytime soon.
I used Marriott since the early 1970s. I don’t travel that often now and I watch my available points go up and down for no reason. I used to call and complain and sometimes it was straightened out, but now I look at Hilton as I have boycotted Marriott. I already cut up my card. Bon Voyage AH
Can’t blame you Robert. Hilton is one of my favorites as well. They have always been fair with me.
Got bonvoyed too platinum to gold we should be upgrading loyalty not down grading! Really good products but not well managed!!!
Yeah the hotels are generally good but management and the program are a mess. Were you able to get it fixed?
I assume I still have my platinum status I will check after this but Marriott has been a huge disappointment. I own a timeshare and bought extra vacation club points and use the bonvoy card to build Marriott points and the two departments don’t know what the other Does. Every time I want to use a reward it’s not available. Now will I ever able to leave home and use my points?.
I hope we are able to travel sooner rather than later. I would guess July is when domestic travel starts back up some.
This comment is somewhat off this topic of status downgrade but your posts and knowledge of the workings of Marriott policies, I thought might shed light on my issue. I’m a (was, recently sold timeshare, sick) Marriott vacation time share owner holding a reservation in May 2020 which may be unavailable due to covid19. The rep said that the best Marriott would offer in “compensation” is suggest I deposit the week with interval international at an additional cost $500 to me to do the deposit, and exchange fee! So I would not only lose my reserves week, already paid for, but would have to incur additional costs to keep it! I asked if a future week at same resort could be held, and was again pushed to deposit with Interval. Shouldn’t there be a parallel, as in hotel reservations that comparable property be offered? Would appreciate any insights.
Karen I honestly don’t know anything about the vacation time share properties or their rules. I would think they would just let you bank the week to be used at a later date. I would maybe try calling back with a different rep and see if you can get something like that to happen.
They in fact are not allowing banking of points and are further restricted those points to all owners. This is a huge debacle right now and several owners have been fighting to get these points returned unrestricted. So far no one from management is changing the policy.
That is terrible to hear Joyce. I don’t know what they think people are supposed to do when they can not travel right now. Hopefully they come to their senses.
Actually I would love to get this story out in the open for all owners to read. Are you interested in taking on this task since your audience is broad? It goes much deeper than what I stated.
Sure Joyce if you want to email me a rundown of everything I can put an article together. Mark@milestomemories.com.
Put Marriott Vacation Owners as the email subject.
I used Twitter they were not helpful.
That’s a lot of work on your part, even I got exhausted.
Haha yup – shouldn’t be that hard at all
Hi-as member of JW Marriott club, my family members enjoy the facilities provided including room upgrade during birthday stayacation.
Due to COVID19, we cannot eat at their many restaurants. As such I requested for extension of membership expiry by 6 months which was approved promptly with any penalties, thanks to Mr Stephane F.
It is unpleasant for you to go through the hassel you experienced hence I think it is fair that similar standard be applied worldwide.
I literally cannot understand why you guys put up with this silly nonsense from Marriott. Every week they come up with some new way to kick you in the teeth. Over and over and over and over. It’s like Stockholm Syndrome the way you rationalize this.
Come join us Hyatt folks. SO much better over here.
I agree with toomanybooks, I am lifetime Titanium Elite at Marriott (lifetime with Marriott over 20 years and SPG for the past 10 years) and the Bonvoy experience has cured me for LIFE. I have moved to Hilton and Hyatt where they respect and value my loyalty and business. Having said this previously, WAKE UP MARRIOTT! Vote with your $$$ people and let them know how much disappointment they have given their “valued” loyal customers. Don’t continue to put up with this BS from Marriott!
BTW, I too loved the SPG properties and have feel a great loss there but Marriott is ruining them as well. Hilton and Hyatt have properties that rival St. Regis (and Ritz Carlton if that’s your thing).
I’m in the process of dealing with Marriott. I product changed from a regular Amex Bonvoy card to the Bonvoy Brilliant card some time during last year. I chatted with an agent before the end of the year to figure out my progress towards the $75k, and they had factored all my spend prior to upgrading. With that factored in, I should have reached the $75k threshold by end of 2019. E-mailed Marriott twice so far. First time they didn’t understand my request. Second time they said its out of their control, that I had to talk to Amex.
Yeah the spend before the upgrade has always counted in the past but I would reach out to Amex and make sure they sent it over.
You are correct, they did count the spend before the upgrade. So based off of my AMEX YTD spend summary, I spent $77.5kk+, which includes annual fees, etc. However, annual fees and some other things do not count towards the $75k spend. There is no easy way to view the progress towards the $75k. I was informed i reached about $74,480 or so in qualified spend. This is rather upsetting as I upgraded my card to try and achieve status through spend (even though I may not even get to make use of it this year). Do you have any suggestions? Thanks in advance.
Hot damn, I need to ask for some points after having to make 5 phone calls, 7 emails and 3 tweets to get my status restored to platinum. I actually had to send them an email with a full list of every night I’d stayed in 2019, because they couldn’t see them somehow.
You should for sure!
Great info! thanks
Some gems in there for sure ktc – thanks for reading.
I’m familiar with Corporate rates, but I’m wondering if you could give a hint on how your travel agent status helps to you.
Some of the travel agent rates are quite inexpensive. Have to have travel agent credentials such as an IATA card to use them though.
As a former travel agent, I’m curious what’s required to access travel agent rates.
On the loyalty to Bonvoy front, you’re either brave or a glutton for punishment. Pretty much every change Arne Sorensen has made since the inception of Bonvoy has been bad for the loyal customer. He just sees involved loyalty members as the enemy. I hope I’m wrong but it’s extremely unlikely that he, and by extension Marriott, will stop making things worse any time soon. That makes Bonvoy an increasingly bad investment for the customer.
Mark? I figured you wouldn’t have mentioned the travel agent rates if you meant to keep them secret.
This was a guest post I didn’t write it. I’ll see if Eric can answer that for you.
Apologies. I saw that you had responded and took that to mean that it was your work.
No worries 🙂
They have multiple types, but the best travel agent rates, yet most restrictive, are their familiarization or FAM rates, which you have to actually be a travel agent to access. You have to pass most of their tests and take a refresher each year. You also need to link your agency and individual ARC/IATA number to your profile in order to book them.
“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. “
The fact id have to keep records to prove my status with Marriott is a huge pause for concern.
At what point should it be my responsibility to prove my status? Marriott is racing to the bottom.
Bonvoy…. Yeah… Whatever….. Two years of Titanium elite that felt like Silver at best. Maybe two upgrades in that time that I didn’t have to ask for. Maybe 6 upgrades out of 75 in total when asking…. This “status” level is absolutely ridiculous. They don’t care.