Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Terms & Conditions Changes Effective October 15, 2014

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Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) updated the Terms and Conditions governing their program on September 30, 2014, and noted that these new T&C’s are effective on October 15.

Starwood Preferred Guest Terms and Conditions Change October 15, 2014

But then a day later on October 1, 2014, the old terms and conditions replaced the new ones. Maybe Starwood mistakenly published the updated T&C’s too early?

You can access Starwood Preferred Guest T&C’s here.

There are quite a few changes to the terms and conditions and I will try to cover the most important ones here. Starwood added quite a few terms governing the new SPG Pro program for travel professionals & travel organizers. As these two are new, I am not covering them here.

This version of the terms and conditions for the SPG Program will become effective on October 15, 2014. The current version of the terms and conditions for the SPG Program can be found on the SPG Program website ( www.spg.com ).

Gifting An Award & Stay Credit:

In the event that an SPG Award is given to a third party in accordance with the prior sentence, neither the SPG Member nor the third party will earn any Starpoints, Eligible Nights, or Eligible Stays in connection with such SPG Award.

So, if you are gifted an SPG award, neither you nor the award issuer will receive stay/night credits or points for the eligible spend (incidentals) at least per the T&C’s. I was gifted an award earlier this year and the stay ended up posting as qualifying to my account.

Award Cancellation:

If an SPG Member fails to cancel a guaranteed SPG Award reservation within the permitted cancellation time, the SPG Participating Hotel will charge the applicable cancellation fee to the credit card provided by the SPG Member at the time the reservation was made and the Starpoints that had been redeemed will be re-deposited into the SPG Member’s account. For Free Night Awards only, an SPG Member may request a refund of the applicable cancellation fees charged by forfeiting the portion of the Starpoints that he/she had redeemed for the SPG Award necessary to cover the applicable cancellation fees by emailing his/her request to chargechange@starwoodhotels.com no later than 60 days after the reservation arrival date, provided that the SPG Member has adequate Starpoints in his/her account.

Sometimes the cancellation deadline can be unusually early at the most sought after resort type properties during high season. Starwood has added a few words here and they are in bold/italics. It now appears that you don’t necessarily lose all the Starpoints, but only those that are “necessary to cover the applicable cancellation fees” whatever that might be.

Converting Starpoints To Airline Miles

Transfers of Starpoints may be delayed if they are suspected to be fraudulent. Transfers found to be fraudulent will be voided.

Death & Divorce

Elite Preferred Guest Membership Status, SPG Lifetime Gold Status, SPG Lifetime Platinum Status and the related benefits, including, without limitation, Eligible Nights and Eligible Stays, will not transfer to the recipient of the Starpoints.

Starwood clarified here that the lifetime benefits don’t transfer in case of death or divorce to the other party.

Fraudulent Activity

Fraudulent Activity . If an SPG Member suspects or learns of any fraudulent activity related to their SPG Member account, including, without limitation, unauthorized redemption or transfer of Starpoints, the SPG Member must report the fraudulent activity within 60 days of it occurring to a Customer Contact Center . Credit or debit of any Starpoints in question to the SPG Member will be at Starwood’s sole discretion.

SPG has clarified that the member must inform Starwood within 60 days about any unauthorized activity on his/her account.

Promotions

For example, if an SPG Member is a Gold Preferred Guest and he/she is eligible to earn multiplied Starpoints pursuant to an SPG Promotion Reward, he/she will only be awarded multiplied Starpoints pursuant to such SPG Promotion Reward based on the amount of Starpoints that he/she would have earned pursuant to these SPG Program Terms if he/she was not a Gold Preferred Member (regardless of the fact that he/she actually was a Gold Preferred Member).

Starwood has clarified that the number of bonus Starpoints that you earn is always based on the number of points that non-status earned would get (base points).

Lifetime Status Qualifying Years

If an SPG Member earns more than 25 Eligible Stays or 50 Eligible Nights in a Qualifying Period, he/she will not earn more than one Eligible Platinum Year.

If an SPG Member earns more than 10 Eligible Stays or 25 Eligible Nights in a Qualifying Period, he/she will not earn more than one Eligible Status Year.

Only a calendar year in which an SPG Member obtains Elite Preferred Guest Membership Status as described in the prior sentence will count as an Eligible Status Year, regardless of the length of time that such SPG Member will retain the benefits of Elite Preferred Guest Membership Status.

SPG clarifies here that even if you exceed the qualification requirements it won’t count more than one eligible Gold or Platinum status year. The year when you earn or requalify for the Gold or Platinum status only counts towards the lifetime status regardless how long the status is valid.

Ambassador

Ambassador. A Platinum Preferred Guest who has 100 Eligible Nights in a Qualifying Period is eligible to participate in the SPG ambassador service during that Qualifying Period and continue through the subsequent calendar year. The SPG ambassador service is a benefit of the SPG Program that permits an eligible SPG Member to receive certain additional benefits as further described at the ambassador program website.

SPG has now added the Ambassador to the T&C’s of the program. Must be here to stay (for now).

Account Cancellation & Inactivity & Lifetime Status

If an SPG Member cancels his/her account, or if an SPG Member account becomes Inactive, the SPG Member may reapply for membership in the SPG Program at a later date, but no Starpoints, SPG Awards or SPG Promotion Rewards previously expired will be reinstated to the SPG Member account and any SPG Lifetime Gold status and SPG Lifetime Platinum status will not be reinstated. Each of Elite Preferred Guest Membership Status, SPG Lifetime Gold status and SPG Lifetime Platinum status terminates upon cancellation of an SPG Member account

Well. Here are some changes that I don’t like. Even if you have lifetime Gold or Platinum status, you must have activity every once in a while to keep your account live or otherwise you lose your “lifetime” status.

Eligibility To Receive Benefits

Eligibility to Receive Benefits. By accepting any SPG Program benefits, amenities, offers, awards or services, including, without limitation, any Starpoints, SPG Awards and or SPG Promotion Rewards, an SPG Member acknowledges that he/she is responsible for determining whether he/she is eligible to receive, and that he/she is eligible to receive, such SPG Program benefits, amenities, offers, awards or services (including, without limitation, Starpoints, SPG Awards or SPG Promotion Rewards) under applicable laws, gift policies and incentive policies. Each SPG Member must immediately notify Starwood if he/she is not eligible to receive any SPG Program benefits, amenities, offers, awards or services at any time.

The SPG member may not be allowed to collect benefits for their stays paid by for example government and SPG is just covering themselves here.

Adjustments

Adjustments. An SPG Member may request credits for Starpoints (other than for Starpoints earned pursuant to Section 2.1.b. ), Eligible Nights (other than Eligible Nights earned pursuant to Section 6.3 ) or Eligible Stays that are not reflected in an SPG Member’s account through the SPG Program website ( www.spg.com ) under ” Report a Missing Stay (Get Credit) ” or by contacting the Customer Contact Center . An SPG Member may request credits for Starpoints or Eligible Nights earned in connection with an Eligible Event that are not reflected in an SPG Member’s account through the SPG Program website ( www.spg.com ) under ” Report a Missing Event ” or by contacting the Customer Contact Center . Such a request must be received within 1 year of the applicable Stay, Eligible Event or other Eligible Charge transaction to receive any credit. 13.6 New SPG Members. A new SPG Member will be eligible to receive Starpoints for Eligible Charges, and Eligible Stays and Eligible Nights for Stays, that are incurred and paid for by the SPG Member during the 30 days prior to his/her enrollment in the SPG Program (the ” Pre-Enrollment Period “), if such credit is requested within 60 days of the applicable Stay or Eligible Charge transaction. A new SPG Member will not receive any Starpoints, Eligible Stays or Eligible Nights for any stays that occurred prior to Pre-Enrollment Period, even if he/she was a member under a loyalty program offered by Starwood other than the SPG Program, except for Stays that are incurred and paid for during the Pre-Enrollment Period.

Stays Of More Than 90 Days

Eligible Stays in Excess of 90 days. An SPG Member will not receive any Starpoints on any Eligible Charges, any Eligible Nights or any Eligible Stays for any portion of a single Stay in excess of 90 days. An SPG Member may not earn Starpoints pursuant to Section 2.1.a. or Eligible Stays for stays at SPG Participating Hotels in which the SPG Member was not the registered guest, did not stay at SPG Participating Hotel, or did not pay the folio upon check-out.

SPG has now clarified that the stays of more than 90 days won’t receive any elite night/stay credits.

“An SPG Member will not receive Starpoints on any Eligible Charges for any portion of a single Eligible Stay in excess of 90 days.” (Previous T&C’s)

I had a case earlier in the year where the guest had stayed longer and requested stay/night credit towards his/her elite status but was declined (read more here). Per the previous T&C’s, he/she would have been eligible for the nights count towards the elite status but no longer.

Eligibility

Eligibility Notification . An SPG Member must promptly notify Starwood in the event that (i) he/she is not eligible for any reason, including, without limitation, pursuant to any applicable laws, gift policies or incentive policies, to earn Starpoints, Eligible Nights or Eligible Stays, or any other benefits that an SPG Member may earn under the SPG Program or (ii) his/her SPG Member account has been credited with any Starpoints, Eligible Nights or Eligible Stays or any other benefit that an SPG Member may earn under the SPG Program that he/she has not earned or is not eligible to earn.

Correction of Benefits

Correction of Benefits. At any time and in Starwood’s sole discretion (including, without limitation, where an SPG Member was not eligible to earn a specific benefit pursuant to these SPG Program Terms), Starwood may correct (i) the amount of Starpoints or the number of Eligible Nights or Eligible Stays shown as credited to an SPG Member’s account, and (ii) any other benefit that has been credited to an SPG Member’s account, including, without limitation, any Elite Preferred Guest Membership Status, SPG Lifetime Gold Status or SPG Lifetime Platinum Status.

So, Starwood reserves the right to tinker with your account anytime and take away points/nights/stays.

Hotel Exits Starwood System

Exit of SPG Participating Hotel. If an SPG Participating Hotel exits the SPG Program for any reason, an SPG Member will not earn Starpoints, Eligible Nights or Eligible Stays (including, without limitation, any Starpoints or Eligible Stays pursuant to Section 2 ) for stays at such SPG Participating Hotel, and any SPG Promotion Rewards, SPG Awards, other promotions and other special offers will no longer be valid after the date on which the SPG Participating Hotel exited the SPG Program, even if the reservation for a stay at the former SPG Participating Hotel was made prior to that date.

Starwood hasn’t covered the scenario of hotels exiting their system previously, but now they have. The problem here is that sometimes hotels don’t give ANY advance notice of their removal from SPG and this may cause issues for the members.

Conclusion

The Terms and Conditions governing the SPG program and getting long and longer. It makes sense to read them every once in a while to understand what your “rights” are as SPG member according to SPG.

There are no huge changes here beyond the ineligibility of the long stays for status credit and the fact that the lifetime Gold or Platinum status can be canceled for inactivity.

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