WSJ: “Inside the Marriott-Starwood Loyalty Program Turbulence”

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A LoyaltyLobby reader dropped us a link to a Wall Street Journal piece that had appeared in today’s print edition about an issue that we have been extensively covering since August 18.

Starwood & Marriott Merger Disaster

Marriott has been struggling to properly integrate accounts, provide any sort of customer service and iron out glitches ever since legacy SPG members were disastrously moved to an ill-prepared Marriott Rewards platform on August 18th. It has been a complete amateur-hour from Marriott.

You can access Marriott Rewards here.

Here’s an excerpt from the piece that you can access here:

Two years into the megamerger of Marriott and Starwood, the world’s largest hotel company still has serious kinks to work out, leaving many frequent travelers furious and frustrated.

Travelers say stays at hotels haven’t been recorded in their loyalty accounts. Crucial data about qualifying for elite levels disappeared. And customer service has been unhelpful. Check your account closely—you may be missing credits and not know it.

“We have solved most of the issues impacting larger numbers of members and are working on solving more isolated issues,” Marriott said in a written response to questions.

The company resolved one major issue involving elite-night credits earned from credit card spending just last week, more than three months after the integration. That problem left many members in limbo, unsure of how close they were to hitting elite-level thresholds before year’s end.

Marriott says the computer problems revolved around four main areas: accurately showing elite status, redeeming suite upgrade awards, getting points restored when award reservations were canceled and missing credit for stays.

For some, Marriott’s lack of communication has been the most frustrating thing. While hotels are often quick to throw extra points at loyal customers and offer apologies for leaky faucets or noisy remodeling work, Marriott hasn’t always acknowledged problems or offered compensation for time and troubles, they say.

Here are our previous coverage on these Marriott/SPG merger issues since August 18:

Conclusion

It is now three and a half months since the program merger and Marriott Rewards is still ironing out the bugs? It just proves how badly planned and rushed the program merger was. Why didn’t they properly test and resolve the account integration issues rather than forcing it through early and not the on the original planned date at the end of 2018?

It is clear that members that don’t have any account activity will not have faced any issues (90% to 95% of the membership don’t even have a single stay every year). Marriott must be referring to them when they say that majority of members and their accounts were not affected by these integration issues.

Although most of the account integration issues were affecting legacy SPG members whose accounts were moved to Marriott’s platform, Marriott Rewards members have faced issues with a degraded level of customer service.

Marriott has put out up a brave face and claimed ever since the August 18th that the integration is going smoothly. It is surprising that heads haven’t rolled in the integration team. Most of these issues would have been avoidable by doing proper planning. There is no excuse for any of the mess that we have been through for the past three and a half months that still continues to this day.

The WSJ piece refers to missing stays. Here’s an example how it used to work with legacy SPG properties. They could manually post the stay if for some reason it didn’t post automatically but not any longer. They must email Marriott Rewards property customer service and those inboxes are so full that emails are bouncing! It took roughly 10 or so emails and three months for me to get one missing stay posted. Ridiculous!

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