Whine Wednesdays Take Two: Marriott Gift Cards

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Marriott has been pushing its electronic gift cards in the past 12 months, allowing the hotel company to collect millions from program members by offering them a discount.

I purchased one set at a 20% discount in the spring of 2020 (read more here) and wrote a piece about the difficulty in using them at Marriott affiliated hotels (access here).

You can access Marriott here.

READ MORE: Marriott Bonvoy Rate & Bonus Points And Miles Promotions

I made a second purchase last fall when Marriott was selling them at 15% off (read more here), thinking that it would be easier to use them in the Americas, a market where they are more prevalent than Japan and Europe, where I previously had issues.

How wrong I was. They are equally, if not more, challenging to use at Marriott properties in Mexico.

Here are three examples:

Renaissance Cancun Marina

The front desk cannot redeem them. Only a supervisor can. The agent disappeared somewhere while I had Uber waiting. I left the hotel without checking physically out but did receive a folio an hour later with the correct deduction from the card.

Four Points Cancun Centro

The front desk agent, again, cannot redeem them. The only supervisor could who was not in that day. The agent wrote down the card number with the PIN and promised that the payment would be applied the following day.

It was not. The payment was charged to the credit card on file, and I had to work with the hotel’s GM to have this corrected.

Aloft Tulum

This was the best one. The front desk manager claimed that because they are a franchised property, they can decide whether to accept Marriott gift cards or not, and the owner had decided that they won’t.

I contacted Marriott and received the following statement from the spokesperson:

Thank you for bringing this to our attention and we apologize for your experience. Marriott GiftCards may be used at hotels operating under the Aloft brand (excluding those those located in India) and at participating retail, spa, golf and food and beverage outlets. We will reach out to the property to reinforce the policy.

Here’s my experience that I reported pretentiously:

Whine Wednesdays: Marriott Gift Cards

Here are some of the excuses that I was told:

  • We don’t take them
  • I don’t know how to redeem
  • I don’t have a password to redeem
  • Our password has expired.
  • I have never seen one before
  • Only the supervisor can redeem
  • You cannot use them towards the room rate, only incidentals

Conclusion

If you buy Marriott gift cards, you will end up spending hours educating the front desk and will likely often leave the hotel without getting a settled folio.

Marriott uses a third-party system to administer their gift cards, and there are separate usernames and passwords to access it. The property must withdraw the amount from the gift card and post it to the folio.

I am sure that these are netted between the hotel and Marriott, and perhaps some prefer getting cash NOW rather than the lower payment to Marriott at some later date.

There is no excuse for how badly Marriott and its affiliated hotels handle these.

There is a saying; fool me once shame on you, fool me twice and shame on me. I should have learned the lesson and not to purchased them. The 15% discount doesn’t negate the time wasted trying to get these adequately applied and pushback from the hotels.

Has Marriott lost control of its system? Hotels act as they wish, and there is absolutely no quality or compliance control from Marriott? It doesn’t bode well for the long-term success of the company.

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