This week the Compensation Clinic deals with a reader’s case at the Starwood affiliated Element Arundel Mills hotel in the United States.
Remember that you can always email us, send us a Facebook message or Tweet about the issues you have with hotels, airlines and other travel providers. We’ll feature one new Compensation Clinic case each week.
You can access Starwood’s web page for Element hotels here.
Here’s the email from the reader:
I completed a one night stay with Element Arundel Mills couple of days ago. Being close to the casino and outlet store, it was a perfect location, especially for those staying super late in a casino.
Now here are the problems I experienced with the property:
– Weeks before I arrived, I asked the hotel if I can have the corner room upgrade, being a SPG Platinum 50 (and 5 nights aways from SPG Platinum 75). At first they don’t want to because they only do upgrades on the check-in date, however I said that some properties do upgrade early as a courtesy. They ended up giving me the upgrade, one bedroom corner room, as I booked the One Bedroom suite (also I booked it with my SPG AMEX card for the extra points).
– The day of arrival. I asked around 11 am if I can check-in. Property said NO as their check-in is 3pm, even if I am an Elite member. But they will be happy to call me once my room is ready. THEY NEVER CALLED BACK! I CALL THEM AGAIN AROUND 2pm, and now they said my room is ready! It is an hour drive for me to go the hotel.
– I checked in to my “FIRST” room. They did upgraded me to the one bedroom – corner room. However couple of issues occur. The room smells musky and dirty (it seems not cleaned at all). There are NO POTS AND PANS inside the room. The bedsheet is dirty, and there are TRASH INSIDE THE Garbage bin. I called the supervisor to ask if there are any rooms available, their reply is EVERYTHING IS SOLD OUT. Also about their pans, they said they do not have extras! The front desk offered to have the Housekeeping clean it, but I said No because I want to be on a different room.
– I called the SPG PLATINUM Customer Service to have them deal with the issue. Magically, a Corner Room just became Available!
– Now, I checked in to my “SECOND” room. This one looked better than the first as the room smells clean, the room has complete pots and pans, and there are no trash. Everything is almost perfect until the worst scenario that I can encounter… THE DOOR NEVER LOCKED!
– i accidentally found it by pushing the door without tapping my keys. It is just crazy! I feel unsecured with that. I stepped outside after I checked in to this room, and then when I arrived it never locked the whole time! So I called the supervisor again, this time she is “busy” with other customers. I called SPG Platinum customer service on this to have the issue solved.
– it ended up being on at least a couple of hour on the phone with the SPG and the hotel. They do not want to move me as they are “SOLD OUT”. In the end, they gave me another room. This is the same category I booked (one bedroom suite), as the Corner room is sold out, and That room was just an upgrade for me.
– now I check in to my “THIRD” room. It is smaller than the other two rooms. With all the issues I experience, I am exhausted. It took FOUR HOURS (3-7) until I am able to have me on the settled room. I can say I am happy. I can now go to casino / mall. So i put in all my groceries and produce in the fridge.
Too make this complain part short. 3 hrs after i put the groceries, the Fridge and Freezer never gets cold, even if I put it on the coldest setting. With all the hassle i experience on this hotel, i just gave up on complaining because I know i will lose this battle. The following morning, the fridge really never works, and my ice cream inside the freezer MELTED AT ALL! I just gave up complaining on them.
Here are their resolution/compensation to me.
Originally, I booked the rate under Best Rate Guarantee, i will have a 2000pts.
– With changing rooms for THREE times, calling the SPG Customer Service and all issues that happened, the supervisor offered to have the room compensated, they will not charged my credit card (Basically a free stay), and an extra points.
– Days after I checked out, The only compensation I received was 3000 points! Also, They never charged my credit card, but it took SEVEN DAYS until it clears out on my credit card. And that stay never counted on my SPG stays (I sucks though because I had some issued with different hotels, and even If they refunded my money back, they still considered it as a stay for my account as a courtesy with the issues I experienced)
With all the issued I experience, and all the lost hours I was supposed to do as visiting the area, I think the hotel should offer more than 3000 points. Refunding my money is fine, but It was supposed to be available and cleared the next day, not after SEVEN DAYS.
I will never stay again on that Element Arundel Mills.
The compensation here is bit on the low side considering that an award night would cost 7,000 Starpoints. The hotel, however, waived the charges for the night. Problem with the comped free nights with Starwood is that they won’t post as qualifying stays or nights. As a matter of fact, they don’t post as all.
The best option always is to pay for the night(s) and negotiate an adequate point compensation instead. In this case the reader would have received the 2,000 Best Rate Guarantee bonus points as well.
The adequate point compensation here would have been 7,000 Starpoints and the reader should have paid for the stay. The total number of points earned then would have been close to 10,000.