SPG strong selling point has traditionally been the customer service that the guests receive via online chat or from SPG Platinum Concierges (if you are Platinum member).
SPG also has Ambassadors for those that stay more than 100 nights yearly. Recently, the Ambassador managed guests have voiced their displeasure of “downgraded” service by semi useless Ambassadors.
Anyway, I am just shaking my head what is going on with these Platinum concierges. Here’s my recent chat:
Chat with SPG:
Kelly. has entered the session.
John: I would like to book the Sheraton xyz using points (5th night free) from February 13 to February 18, 2015. Couldn’t do it online.
Kelly: Thank you for using SPG Platinum Click-to-Chat, my name is Kelly. John, I would be happy to look into this for you, today.
Kelly: In order to help you, for security reasons, may I ask you for the verbal password on your account?
Kelly: I will also require the number of adults and or children in the room.
John: two adults
Kelly: Thank you, one moment please while I check availability.
Kelly: There is a Classic non smoking Queen room available for 40,000 Starpoints. Did you wish to book this room?
John: Yes please. This is for 2015 (make sure that you got the year right) not 2014.
Kelly: My apologies, one moment please.
Kelly: I do apologize that the Starpoint rates are not yet loaded for 2015.
John: The hotel is already selling rooms, so the point rates should be available as well.
Kelly: I do apologize that the categories for each hotel are reviewed each year. Starpoint rates are not loaded for 2015 at this time.
John: Those category changes for points reservations take only place if/when hotel is moved up/down and doesn’t affect reservation done prior to the change.
John: So, that is not a valid answer to my request.
John: Paid rates are loaded by hotel, they have base level room available, there are no blackout dates for Starpoints award
Kelly: I do apologize Mr. John, as the hotels have not loaded Starpoint rates for 2015 we are unable to book this rate or offer availability. Please check back closer to your arrival date.
John: But they have loaded paid rates.
John: Awards should be then bookable as well.
Kelly: As Starpoint rates are not being offered, once again I do apologize that I cannot assist you in booking your stay at this time.
Kelly: Was there another matter that I could assist you with today?
John: I am escalating this issue
You can imagine that I was pulling my hair out during this chat session and when the SPG agent was claiming that the hotel was not available using points because Starwood has not devalued this property yet by category raise for 2014/2015.
So, I escalated this issued by email.
Dear Mr. John,
Thank you for contacting me. I hope you are having a pleasant day.
While our hotels do not have black out dates, there are certain restrictions surrounding securing reservations using Starpoints. All of our hotels are reviewed on a regular basis to determine the category that should be assigned, as well as reviewing the reservation history for previous years. We are able to assign a dollar value to the rooms however, a Starpoint reservation cannot be secured for the 2015 calendar year.
Mr. John, I see you have been a member since 2007. I would like to thank you for your loyalty and I hope you have many memorable stays in the years to come. Should you require additional assistance, simply reply to this email. If you prefer, you may chat with us online or we can call you.
Thank you for your understanding. I hope you have a wonderful week.
I am not fully convinced if this SPG PLT eConcierge has any knowledge of the SPG program at all.
My reply to the Platinum eConcierge:
Your reply has nothing to do with the question I had.
Sheraton xyz is available using points in February 2015 every day excluding the five dates that I am trying to reserve it.
“The Starwood Preferred Guest® program allows you to redeem Starpoints® for Free Night Awards without blackout dates or extra point charges on standard rooms–regardless of your member level. If we have a standard room available, it’s yours. And it typically takes just three stays to earn a Free Weekend Night Award. ”
Hotel has standard rooms available for sale per the email received from them.
Here’s the reply from SPG Platinum eConcierge:
Dear Mr. John,
Thank you for your reply. I hope you are having a pleasant day.
My apologies for the error. I was basing my response on the chat you had with a fellow colleague. While reviewing your request for a reservation at the Sheraton xyz for the dates listed below, the hotel is showing that it is not available. Starpoint options and paid options are not open for the dates you are looking for.
Mr. John, should you require additional assistance, simply reply to this email. If you prefer, you may chat with us online or we can call you.
Somehow I managed to secure an award reservation using an online backdoor, although now the awards for the dates discussed above are available using regular SPG.com search but paid stays are not.
You have to wonder if these folks typing away on SPG chat or replying to emails as Platinum eConconcierges are even aware of their own rules?
Claiming that awards for 2015 are not available because SPG has not set the hotels category for the year is utter nonsense.
Of course, again, the SPG’s online system is f’ed up that I cannot even try applying any of the 20 SNA’s that I have expiring to this reservation. Wonder if they will ever get this simple task fixed (hint: I am not holding my breath)?