Reader Question: Credit/Debit Card Woes At Marriott Property & Wouldn’t Accept Cash Deposit (Platinum Member)?

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A LoyaltyLobby reader sent me an email about unsatisfactory check in experience at Marriott hotel.

Reader Question Marriott

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Here’s the email from the reader:

I went to 3 Marriott hotels in the US that week. I exceptionally had to use the only debit card I had with me (the one with my wife’s name on it; it’s a joint account) because my credit card had reached its limit just before that trip. This was the 1st time it happened to me. My credit card was the one present in the Marriott system that I used to do the bookings.

The 2 first hotels made absolutely no issue, just let me use the debit card instead of the credit card.

In the 3rd hotel, I faced a wall.

The person at the check-in desk refused to let me use the debit card and had no solution to propose. I then called the manager on duty who came angry (to have had to leave his office in the back to talk to a customer) and started the conversation in an aggressive way. I got the same answers from that person: We can’t take your debit card, we can’t check you in, etc. I explained that it had not been an issue for the 2 previous Marriott hotels, that I had been Platinum member for several years and was thus a well known reliable and loyal customer, I offered to pay with cash instead, etc. The manager did not accept anything. I then asked to the manager what solution she’d propose and got the following answers several times: Cancel your reservation and find another hotel…

I was totally shocked and stressed out but remained calm and determined to sort this out as I had nowhere to go and didn’t want to spend the night in the street. I could not believe that an hotel could ever walk a customer like that. I mentioned the Marriott guarantee applicable to Platinum members which is on your site as well and I finally gave up talking to that person as the conversation was going nowhere and asked to the manager to call the Marriott customer service number. 

It took 2 minutes for the person on the phone to replace the number of my credit card by the number of the debit card in the reservation and I was then good to go… 

The manager completed the check-in in a very frustrated and still aggressive way. I finally obtained my room key. I asked for the manager to write down his name on a paper and told her that her behavior had been totally unacceptable and that I’d escalate the issue.

I sent an email to explain what happened via the Marriott website the same day. They immediately replied to me that they were sorry and requesting 3 to 5 business days to allow the hotel to answer. More than 5 business days later, I got no answer form the hotel. I followed up with the Marriott customer service by email and also got no answer.

I’m asking for compensation and hope that there’ll be consequences for that manager and that hotel.

It’s the first time I’m doing anything like this but I believe that it’s totally justified.

As it’s secondary, I won’t mention that I had no arrival gift and that the hotel did not allocate the correct number of nights and reward points to my Marriott account.

This is just incredible.

We have two separate issues here:

1. The payment for the stay

2. Failed Platinum welcome amenity

As long as the last name on the card that the reader gave to the front desk was the same, why would they bother? Quite often they just swipe the card without checking anything else. On my current (and never ending) trip quite a few haven’t even swiped anything when checking in and just told me to pay when I leave.

Considering that the reader is also Marriott Rewards Platinum member, I am sure that the properties sometimes face situation when they are unable to authorize credit or debit card. You would think that they could have accepted a cash deposit (say room rate + $100)?

I am glad that the reader was able to add the card to the file using the Marriott reservations and the property then didn’t have any issues with it. Not sure how this really changed anything when it came to payment policies at the property level.

The reader should have exercised his Platinum arrival gift guarantee before leaving the property. They basically owed him $100 in cash for not offering it at the time of checking in. You, however, need to do this BEFORE leaving. I recently wrote about this (access here).

I am surprised that the property didn’t reply to the file that the reader opened via Marriott Reward and now the Marriott Rewards is not replying either. The reader could find the name of the GM of the property (Google search is quite powerful) and write him/her directly. Marriott emails are in the form of firstname.lastname@marriott.com.

Conclusion

The reader (based on his name) might be from Europe and having only one credit card usually with lower limit is not uncommon in the area. I always encourage readers to have multiple cards just in case and preferably from different banks and brands (Visa/MasterCard/Amex).

You never know when one of the cards might be cloned (or more than one that happened to me the other year), ATM might eat it when you are withdrawing cash, some reason one of the networks is down or the merchant doesn’t accept one of the brands.

It always make sense to have local cash as well (and I usually tend to have some Euros and Dollars too that can come handy and are usually accepted anywhere if there are no other choices).

I am glad that the reader was able to check in to the hotel after the frustrating check in experience. I am sure that it is very difficult if not impossible to turn the stay around after such negative experience. Seems that the property could have been more flexible especially when it came to the cash deposit that the reader offered as a Platinum member.

The property owes the reader $100 under the Platinum arrival gift guarantee but this should have been dealt with before checking out.

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  • cscasi

    What did Marriott Guest Assistance say? Or the Marriott Rewards desk? I would certainly expect a written reply to my questions when I called or sent them to the information. What a way to treat a Platinum member.

    • George

      For the platinum amenity at check in or 100 dollar compensation guarantee, does that apply to award stays? Does that apply to stays in Asia and Europe?

      Thank you

  • Noelle Bell

    Why not put the available cash into credit card before check-in? Strikes me this individual has a pretty questionable approach to their own personal finance management and shouldn’t be passing the blame onto the retailer.

  • agpb

    It is illegal not to accept legal tender, which is what cash is.

    • BenniHK

      Yes that’s what bumped to my head firstly. Isn’t cash legal tender which should be accepted according to the law?

    • Jill Gillham

      A company doesn’t have to accept cash in America. Many mainline US carriers seem to be credit or debit card only now for buying food and drink onboard and some are going cashless for paying fir general services at individual airports. (If a passenger there has no credit/debit card, they’re setting up vending machines for prepaid debit cards in the landslide area)

      As for last names matching for a married couple, with my American Generation X cohort, it runs about half were changed at marriage for some sort of match and half kept surnames as they were before marriage so not necessarily a way of proving a link to a card with someone else’s name on it for all.

      • agpb

        Here’s what it is printed to the right of Ben Franklin’s photo on my bill: “This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.” What part of that indicates it is not legal tender?

    • MM

      Nope. Its not payment. Its in case of incidentals, or damage. No major hotel I know of accepts cash for this, you must have a credit card they can charge to.

      • agpb

        Tender covers more than just payment.

        If you Google reserving a room without a credit card, you will see how that is done.

    • agpb

      I was incorrect about this. I was thinking about the stories where someone pays their property tax in pennies, but private businesses and organizations can accept whatever they want.

      https://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12772.htm

  • HBG

    I think this guest with this unpleasant experience, should let us readers, know which Marriott property this occurred at, so we are aware of such unreasonable behaviour from the hotel Duty Manager.

  • Vitalii Semin

    I guess, everybody should know the names of staff and these hotels to never visit ’em.

  • MB

    if a credit card is required by hotel for check in to cover charges and possible damages, its required.

    Customer was upset because they wouldnt make an exception for him. boo hoo.

    only a fool would use a debit card to check it, they will place a HEFTY hold on it that will take 3 weeks to clear off, overdrawing many peoples accounts. Everyone knows this……

    Customer could have paid down his credit card balance…you can do it at anytime electronically… you dont have to wait for end of month, etc .

    • mb

      I should be clearer….its not a hold. they actually bill your checking account a hefty fee, then refund it several weeks later. Debit cards work differently than credit cards, on which a hold can be placed and immediately released.