Is Marriott Rewards Data Security And Their Excessive Safeguard Of Out Control?

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With the ongoing (upcoming) implementation of Starwood Preferred Guest into Marriott Rewards I’ve had a couple dealings with Marriott and their website has proven to be extremely inconvenient for me.

It’s good that loyalty programs offer some safeguards when it comes to account access, change of credentials etc but what Marriott does is going to the extreme.

Honestly speaking I haven’t been an active Marriott customer at all until they acquired Starwood and started to link their rewards programs, allowing points to be transferred from SPG to Marriott Rewards with a 1:3 ratio.

I did transfer 90,000 SPG Points two months ago and redeemed a 270,000 MR points Travel Package resulting in 152,000 United Mileage Plus Miles (including a 20k bonus) and 7 nights at a Marriott property up to Cat 5. I might end up upgrading the hotel category later by paying the different as I don’t find many (if any) properties up to Cat 5 where I really want to stay for 7 days.

Since enrolling for Marriott Rewards and using it more frequently I have been getting error messages asking me to verify my account by means of an identification code sent to my email at least twice a month.

This is how it looks like when it arrives at your email:

The last time it prompted me to enter a code was on December 27th 2016 for something totally unrelated to redemption or account changes. Two days later on the 29th I decided to change my email to a personal address which went through without an issue.

On December 31st I wanted to move some Marriott Rewards back to SPG as I transferred to many and got an error message for verification AGAIN. With a twist.

 

Since I changed my email address this time they wouldn’t even send me a code but asked me to call the Marriott Rewards Service Center. This service center can’t be reached at all times, it’s open Monday to Friday only per the contact options of Marriott’s website.

United States/Canada
1 801 468 4000 (8:15am – 9:00pm, Monday – Friday, US Eastern time)
1 800 450 4442 (toll-free, 24 hours/7 days per week)
Please note: the toll free number is an automated line.

How a company can operate a vital part of their operation, the loyalty program customer service, on weekdays only and then during such inconvenient times is absolutely beyond me. 9pm Eastern Time is 6pm Pacific Time. And after that… ‘Sorry, you’re SOL’!?

I was in Asia and it was Saturday afternoon. No way to reach that Service Center in any way and the regular call center was of no help as it only deals with reservations and certain customer service issues. I wanted to book a local SPG property on points since the rates shot into sky for some reason and it was very reasonable to book a points rate. No dice though.

After calling once and the call broke down while waiting for a manager at the Marriott Customer Service to try and sort it out, a second attempt and nobody answering the call at all for almost 20 min I gave up and ended up paying cash (cash&points award actually) at a Hyatt property nearby.

 

I wrote a strongly worded email to Marriott and sure enough I will send them the bill for the cash payment at Hyatt as well. I find it outrageous to set the website security in such a sensitive manner than customers have to invest hours of futile efforts to get such problems resolved.

Conclusion

Marriott needs to seriously step things up and get their operations under control. Requiring customers to permanently verify their accounts and throwing rocks in their way when trying to contact the Marriott Rewards Customer Service is not a way to encourage people to accept Marriott as the new main brand instead of SPG and I could imagine even drives existing Marriott customers to the brink of insanity.

That being said Marriott isn’t alone here. Competitors such as Hyatt are notorious for their horrible IT and we have covered the matter multiple times here on LoyaltyLobby. It’s 2016 and online sales/service is a very important, if not THE most important part of reaching the customer and generate sales. Yet the websites are maintained like a little pet project with no adequate support.

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