A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us a message about a common scam taking place at many Marriott-affiliated hotels.
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Email From The Reader:
Wondering if you have encountered this before
Essentially I booked 2 nights at Westin Dhaka for 775USD inc tax – amount shown in booking confirmation.
My bill was presented in local currency which I paid by credit card.
– when I did the conversion later into USD I found I had been charged around 200USD more than the above rate.
– the hotels answer was that their exchange rate had been changed. They have showed the rate at 105BDT / USD which is much higher than published rates at 87!
I am disputing it with the hotel, following up with Bonvoy and may then raise a dispute with my credit card issuer which is Amex in UK – ironically a Bonvoy card.
We have covered this issue several times on LoyaltyLobby, and I have battled it with the hotels:
- Reader Email: Another Marriott Scam In Greece (Hotel Processes Prepayment Using DCC)
- Marriott’s Corporate Response To Property Level Payment Scams
- Hotels Scamming With Room Rates – Hilton & Marriott Hotels In Colombia
- Whine Wednesdays: Marriott Hotels In Brazil Using Fake Exchange Rate For Room Rate Conversions (On-Going)
- Whine Wednesdays: Marriott Currency Conversion Scam In Full Swing (Brazil)
- Whine Wednesdays: “Forced” Dynamic Currency Conversion & Clueless Front Desk Clerks At JW Marriott Delhi AeroCity
- WARNING: JW Marriott Rio De Janeiro Currency Conversion Scam
- Whine Wednesdays: Currency Conversion Fraud At Ritz-Carlton Jakarta Mega Kuningan
Some always confuse this with another payment “cancer” that is the Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC), where the merchant tries to trick you into accepting the payment in the currency of your card and not the county you are in and inflates it usually by 4% to 6% in the process:
Here’s how this scam works that the reader describes:
1. Marriott hotel displays the prices in USD on the official booking channel
2. The hotel cannot accept payments in the USD and converts the charge to the local currency
3. The conversion is not done using market rates but is usually inflated by anywhere from 5% to 15%
Marriott washes their hands that it is up to the hotel what rate they use:
While we give guidance, it is up to franchisees to establish their own protocols regarding currency conversions.
Here’s what you need to do:
If the charged currency is different than the booked one, I always check that the charged rate is correct.
When the spread is more than 3%, I ask the front desk to correct it and refuse to pay until the issue is resolved. You likely need to escalate the matter to the Front Desk Manager.
Why hotels do this is crystal clear.
They can easily get another 5% to 15% on top of the rate by using a fake exchange rate, and most of the guests don’t even recognize that fraud is taking place.
I wish all hotels would be required to display the room rates in their local currencies, and more are doing it today.
Indonesia used to be a country where rates were often in USD, but it has become rarer nowadays. However, it is prevalent in markets and hotels that mainly see tourists from the US.
So, check that the rate charged is correct and refuse to pay unless it is.