World of Hyatt came to our attention for all the wrong reasons again, this time for using fake exchange rates on their cash & points awards that are quoted in USD and then converted to local currency.
The issue itself exists for as long as programs are offering cash and points awards which are fixed rates consisting of a specific amount of loyalty points plus a designated cash amount in US$ that’s being paid to the hotel.
You can access the World of Hyatt Cash & Points award chart here.
Naturally hotels outside the U.S. can’t charrge the customer in USD so the cash portion will always be converted to local currency which is also indicated on the programs website, however customers should pay very close attention to their reservation and final folio as there are often huge discrepancies between the amount per program rules and the converted currency total.
One such case is the new Park Hyatt Bangkok which is a category 5 property and prices at 10,000 Hyatt points plus $125 co payment.
When a reader tipped us off about this as he was about to book this hotel during the CNY holiday this week I vowed to check it out and sure enough the currency conversion was off by miles.
In fact XE shows that the converted amount of 4,800 THB is a whopping US$28 (ok, 27,84) more than the $125 it’s supposed to be. On top of that there are local taxes and fees charged based on this inflated price.
Two years ago I already wrote about this exact same issue with Hyatt when staying at the Hyatt Regency Tokyo (see the article here). Back then the exchange rate was off by 10% as well and after weeks of back and forth the answer from Hyatt corporate was that the exchange rates are updated once a week and the rate set at the time of reservation. The Japanese Yen was very volatile back then and made rather large shifts every week so at least it was plausible, though it’s still fraud on the customer.
The current case at the Park Hyatt Bangkok however shows that Hyatt still engages in the same practices and that’s simply not acceptable. This isn’t a currency fluctuation or an oversight because a 20%+ discrepancy shows clear intent. You can do your pick if you consider this kind of thing mere negligence or actual fraud. I’m inclined to lean to the latter.
The solution to this would be that the conversion doesn’t take place at the time of reservation but rather at the time of settling the folio at the hotel and then the property has to use daily rates to reflect the $125 cash portion in an adequate way.
Many destinations quote their rates in USD and then once the final folio comes out it will be converted to local currency. Indonesia is famous for this. Brazil and other South American countries as well. We had plenty of articles about hotels that use inflated (fake) exchange rates. In fact John wrote about it just this week (access his Whine Wednesday article here) when he stayed in Brazil.