When I wrote about the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant credit card, I said that it was the best card to get benefits but you run the risk of being Bonvoyed. I wasn’t trying to be funny, it was a serious warning. Whenever you sign up for a new credit card you have to weigh the positives against the negatives. Currently, one of the negatives when dealing with Marriott is their inability and lack of concern for customers when things go wrong. In short, getting Bonvoyed.
I know that one of the rules of the internet is not to read the comments section. But since this is our website, I have to keep an eye on the comments. I’ve found doing so occasionally forces me to review what I said in the post. Was I being fair or biased? Do I need to reconsider the position I’ve had about something for a long time? Are all of us bloggers stuck in an echo chamber, proving ourselves right about things?
This was one such comment:
Reader J.D. wrote in a reply
The #BONVOYED meme has gotten a little out of hand–a lot of what I’ve seen complaints for were people who took advantage of IT issues and had unintendedly low booking rates for expensive properties and then got MAD that they were caught. I mean….?
Is this true? Is all the Bonvoyed stuff just noise around the edges like Marriott’s CEO Arne Sorenson said? As far as the claim about people booking “mistake” rates and getting mad when they were caught, I’d like to see some evidence, as these are not the #Bonvoyed cases I’ve seen.
What does getting Bonvoyed mean?
I thought about it. Sure, some of the #Bonvoyed posts are just people dealing with normal inconveniences that happen with any type of travel. Something like this:
First Marriott stay of the year and already #Bonvoyed. Hotel accidentally checked me out last night. That meant no internet overnight to download anything for the train and a knock and phone call early this morning to see who was in the room. Chances the stay posts? Betting 0%.
— Miles & Pints (@MILESandPINTS) June 8, 2019
Sure #Bonvoyed has become what you call any problem at all with a Marriott hotel property. But that’s not the real meaning.
Being Bonvoyed is getting stuck in the quagmire of Marriott Bonvoy’s customer service system. A place where the technology is broken and the representatives have no power so they make no effort to try and fix problems. I imagine that if Marriott was based in the U.K., it may have been called a #Bonvoyshambles.
They may mess up your reservation or overcharge you
Getting @bonvoyed so hard:
"Hey I have two free nights at Cat 8 booked with RC card sign up certs pre-deval. I need to change check-in date. Can I do that and you ensure reservation and certs won't get messed up?"
"Yes sir Mr. Kerr, no problem, I'll do that for you"
— Richard Kerr (@KerrPoints) May 24, 2019
At the end of 90 minutes on the phone with @MarriottBonvoy I'm told there is no one else I can speak to. No one who can help. No supervisor. No email to contact. No one to show my confirmation emails to. They will give me a case number but said it will be immediately closed.
— Mommy Points (@mommypoints) May 17, 2019
Richard eventually gave up, canceled his reservation and changed to a Hyatt while Summer had to wait for the “Bonvoy Assist” Twitter team to get involved to get her points back after several hours on the phone and being told that she was lying.
They’re not the only ones. The Bonvoyed website now has over 1,200 entries from people telling their battle stories with Marriott Customer Service.
How bad has this become? The fear of having a problem is now keeping people from booking at Marriott hotels or making them not call in when an issue arises.
They might not give back points or free night certificates
Take the story from Nick on Frequent Miler. He lost track of a free night certificate that never showed up in his account. While his take is about the search for the email, the underlying issue is why didn’t the certificate show up automatically and why should he need to follow up just to get back what was his? This was Marriott’s explanation:
I asked her if certificates need to be manually reinstated like this after canceling. She told me that sometimes the certificates automatically detach from the reservation when you cancel, but sometimes they stick and need to be manually detached from the reservation.
So sometimes things work but oftentimes they don’t. That should be the new Bonvoy slogan.
They might not give you the right number of points (or any points at all)
#Bonvoyed can also apply to the earning of points in the Bonvoy program. What if you don’t receive credit or the proper number of points for a stay? Bonvoy is asking the guest to provide the folio (receipt) in order to get credit. This isn’t from a partner but from one of their own hotels and you need to provide them with a receipt.
Two weeks ago I stayed at a @Marriott and it posted to my account, but I was shorted 600 points. The promised email folio never arrived. I don't want to 1/get the hotel to give me the bill to then 2/ give it to @MarriottBonvoy and 3/hope they can do math, so I haven't bothered.
— gary leff (@garyleff) May 31, 2019
On a personal note, fear of getting Bonvoyed was part of why I changed some of our vacation plans. Case in point, for my New York stay at the Chatwal that I booked for 60,000 points, I didn’t have enough points in my account so I had to wait to finalize the reservation. Because the hotel increased to 80,000 points, that’s the price which showed up online, even though it was 60,000 points when I placed it on hold. According to this article on One Mile at a Time, I’d have to call Marriott to complete the reservation.
It might have gone fine. Maybe it wouldn’t have. I was already on the fence about the stay because I had a good backup option available. The fear of getting Bonvoyed led me to take the cheaper option, earning less money for Marriott.
So back to the main reason for the article. Am I (are we) taking the #Bonvoyed thing too far? NOPE! This is a real problem happening to real people. It may be little, like some missing points, or it could be major, totally ruining a vacation or you end up missing hundreds of thousands of points.
These are not isolated incidents and we’re only hearing the horror stories. I’m sure there are a ton more instances where people had to spend hours to get back points or money or reservations that Bonvoy messed up in some way or another. You’re just less likely to vent online when everything ends up OK. If you got what you deserved, no sense in complaining about it, even if it took more effort than it needed to.
So with Marriott and Bonvoy, I’m still taking the opinion that when you make a reservation, you do so at your own risk.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary