The Marriott-Starwood Merger Has Been One Fiasco After Another

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Mergers are never good for consumers and there are always pain points, but the Marriott-Starwood merger has crossed over into the absurd.

We knew that Marriott lied about not destroying Starwood’s value proposition when they cut the earnings on the SPG AMEX from 3 Marriott points per dollar to 2 per dollar. The card was the main value proposition as it allowed you to earn points that were very valuable as airline miles or hotel points. In one fell swoop that was murdered. That the new $450/year SPG Luxury card does nothing to rectify that is even more mind-boggling to me.

But somehow from there, things only got worse.

They played coy with their travel packages and refused to say how they would convert them with the new program. Everyone figured the only reason they would hide the conversion chart was because it would be too generous. Instead the reason was because their plan was beyond stingy. To make matters worse, Marriott also added a new restriction so that people can’t even upgrade their packages to book the Starwood hotels they actually wanted to book. They took advantage of the situation to create demand despite knowing that they would pick the worst case scenario. They even had their social media team write that people would get an equivalent amount of points, which was totally false. It was all an act designed to fleece their own loyalty members out of their hard earned points. And then they lied about it being bookable early, as it’s still not. Apparently they don’t realize that loyalty is a 2 way street.

In a first for a loyalty program, they added cross bank restrictions to limit signup bonuses between banks.

Marriott promised that they would use Starwood’s policies for upgrades and capacity controls on awards, but didn’t follow through. And you’ll need a PhD to figure out which hotels give elite members a free breakfast.

The actual merger process over the past 15 days has been nothing short of chaos.

  • Phone lines have massive holds unless you call a service center outside of the US.
  • Marriott still can’t figure out how to properly refund cancelled Starpoint reservations.
  • Points transfers to most airlines are still not available and the website doesn’t properly display the 60K transfer bonus.
  • Points transfers to El Al were promised with the merger but never materialized.
  • Suite night awards have been buggy with some hotels.
  • Marriott still can’t figure out how to let people book all suite properties with the promised 60K points. They advertised this as being a limited window of bargains, but what good is it if it’s not actually bookable?
  • They took away the ability to book upgraded rooms at hotels like the S. Regis Maldives after I posted about the deal. They doubled the cost of upgraded rooms from 85K points to 170K points and they took away the ability to get a 5th night for free on upgraded rooms.
  • Point balances and status have been incorrect for many members.
  • Stays are not posting for many members.

Marriott has long had IT problems, but it has gone off the rails with this merger. It’s a real shame they didn’t keep SPG’s IT system, which while not perfect, was so much better than Marriott’s.

Marriott’s communication throughout this process has been downright embarrassing.

So much for the #GoldenRule that Marriott claims to live by. I don’t have any faith that Marriott will ever do right by its members.

Luckily we still have Hyatt…at least until they get gobbled up like what has happened to great hotel chains like SPG and Fairmont.

What problems have you encountered during the merger? Will you stay loyal to Marriott?

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74 Comments On "The Marriott-Starwood Merger Has Been One Fiasco After Another"

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CZ60

Thanks for calling them out. This whole thing has been a mess. 100k star points waiting to repost from a cancelled stay, it’s been 2 weeks. Absurd.

Lev

Nice post Dan – right on!

Avi

Any update on what will happen with existing tier 4-5 certificates that were attached to hotels? What happens if the reservation is cancelled?

Captain Obvious Dansdeals fan

Want some cheese with that whine? You have played the credit card and points game well over many years and traveled to places and stayed in hotels you would never pay cash for for many years. While sure everyone likes when mergers go smoothly, posts like this one just sound like whining. If you don’t like what the merger has done go to a competitor like Hyatt as you mentioned. You’re right, loyalty is a two way street but with occupancy rates being as high as they are Marriott clearly isn’t hurting. Just like the airlines who now sell FC seats and upgrades instead of giving them to elites, hotels are doing the same all in the name of the bottom line.

Shmuly

Dan we need a downvote button 🙂

ccydal

Clearly you don’t travel as much as some of us….if you were in a Marriott Hotel every week (or more), you’d be very frustrated with the fact that Marriott, right now (still), cannot do hardly ANYTHING (such as emailing a friggin’ receipt after each stay) consistently. I have been calling a hotel (and the marriott rewards line) for TWO days trying to get a receipt. This is like the 7th or 8th receipt I’ve had to call and get. Believe me…I don’t WANT to call them after every stay. I guess I will have to physically go check out every time, which I don’t mind (it’s not whining), but don’t pretend to have technology in your apps that you don’t have.

It’s mind boggling that an organization this large could plan something SO badly.

Michael Hecht

SELLING my wothless points

Julian

Hotel nights from booking multiple rooms (for stays before August 1) have not been counted at all. Hotel nights from SPG cards have not been counted at all. In total, I am missing 30 elite qualifying nights. Do you think they will ever post? I have only stayed at SPG properties this year, no Marriott.

M

Same here, see post below. Sit on the phone and insist that an agent post the nights and points – I have the correct points posted (I think), though still not able to view the activity to confirm that I received credit for all nights, status bonuses, etc.

Mordy Ort

I hit spg 75 nights and went down to 50 night since the merger they claim they will put it back but in my mind they lost it for good

Narkusa

I agree. SPG properties are not bookable yet. It is very frustrating.

Rephoel

Dan, I want to close my SPG card I had since 2009.
– Will it hurt my credit? Since I have the history?
– What if I transfer most of the $21,000 limit to my Amex Everyday Card, will that help?
– Is it an issue to have more than $25,000 available credit on an individual Amex, for audit reasons?

Duvi

Transferred all SPG points to British Airways Avois on August 17. Confirmation email from SPG indicates 4-6 business days for the transfer to reflect on BA. Sixteen days later, two email chains, 3 phones calls and 2 ‘supervisors’ later and they have still failed to appear on either end despite promises, dates and deadlines. All apparently due to system is down, system was down & system will be down.

A

I got an email saying it would take 1 business day to for the transfer to reflect in my BA account. When they didn’t appear, I called and they said it would take 6-8 weeks.

yitzie

My spg and Marriott accounts are both missing points and stays. They have not posted anything since the merger and i’ve been staying at hotels.

Is Hyatts program that great? Do they have descent hotels everywhere?

I feel like they intentionally wanted to piss off people that are points savvy , otherwise they would not have done this. Maybe they want the loyal “paying” customers this way they can make larger margins. What do you think?

Steve

Hyatt program is okay, good redemption values on the lower end especially with 1:1 transfer from Chase. Their footprint is very small compared to Marriott or Hilton. If you generally stay in popular cities, airports or tourist destinations you should have no problem finding a hotel.

Mosh

What you mean we still have Hyatt. Should I be using my Hyatt card for my everyday spending?

Ori

No, you use Chase cards to get UR points and transfer to hyatt

M

Six recent stays weren’t posted to my account, plus the receipts were being mailed to an out-of-date e-mail address. Took three calls to Marriott helpline to get the points credited, and I’m still not able to view the activity to confirm that it was posted correctly with status bonuses etc.

I’m a business traveler who is in a Marriott property almost every week, would switch to Hyatt in a -second- if they had properties near my current client. Unfortunately, there’s a single Hyatt House vs. 15+ Marriott/SPG properties to choose from…

Nun

I agree it’s been terrible but this statement is completely wrong, “Everyone figured the only reason they would hide the conversion chart was because it would be too generous.“

Some of us in fact said you are stupid to think Marriott will be generous. They never have been in the past. Those who said this were simply ignored.

C Wiesner

I agree – the merger is a total mess. In anticipation of the 1:3 SPG:Marriott points conversion taking place Aug 18, I paid 3 very large IRS payments with my SPG card. The 3 charges posted Aug 9 and 10. My billing cycle ended August 17. When my SPG statement arrived, they had converted my points 1:2, not 1:3, shorting me 130,000 earned Marriott points. So far in my 3 discussions with 2 supervisors, they have still not agreed to correct this (above their pay grade). They opened a claim for the Marriott higher-ups, but were not encouraging. Well see what happens. BTW, I have had the SPG Amex card for 16 years and am a platinum member.

Shaul Yaakov

Amex announced the point changes as effective 8.1

Ricardo

It was well explained that the deadline for the AMEX SPG card was July 31. After that, all the points would be converted 2 to 1 and not 3 to 1. I don’t think you have a case here.

Frustrated1

I am very frustrated with the merger. I got shorted 40,000 points because Marriott did not properly convert my 20,000 Starwood points at the 3:1 ratio. Instead, it appears they only converted me at a 1:1 ratio. I called customer service, and they said they would open a case file for me. After 3 weeks of not hearing anything about my case status, I called them up again and they said the internal review was complete and that the conversion was done correctly. They have no evidence of having done it correctly though, since the customer service rep does not have my Starwood history. I know for a fact that they messed up the conversion, but they don’t believe me. I have been a member for over 6 years.

I hope some smart lawyers get a class action lawsuit going on this. There has been massive dilution of my accumulated points and I’m sure I’m not the only one suffering. The fact that Marriott refuses to rectify the situation is unacceptable and possibly makes them subject to punitive damages. The lawyers that get in on this lawsuit will get paid handsomely and the consumers who have suffered will get their just compensation!

JP

My situation may, or may not be directly the resistance of the merger. At. The very least, it’s because I’m unfamiliar with Marriott. A few months ago I transferred SPG points to Marriott and made my first redemption in reserving 5 nights at the Maui Wailea beach resort mid-September. All seeemd good until yesterday when I pulled up my res online. There was an offer associated with the res to upgrade rooms for “+$116/night”. I looked at the room and decided it would be worth it since I’m only Silver, and would almost assuredly not receive a comp upgrade. I selected the upgrade and to my shock, the new confirmation showed it had changed to an all cash reservation. I immediately called the hotel – they said internal reservations would have to look at it but they’re not back until after the holiday wknd. I then called central reservations and spent 40 min with 2 reps who eventually said I’d have to talk to a manager at the hotel. Nothing they could do. I’ve reached out via 2 calls and an email to the front desk manager with no response to this point. I can’t believe their system allowed the points res to change to all cash without a warning or confirmation needed by me. I’ll certsinky be calling again first thing tomorrow to talk to internal reservations, but any suggestions for me? My wife and I are a bit stressed about not knowing if we have a place to stay in 2 weeks for our 1st trip to Hawaii.

AT

A friend of mine has reported being hung up on multiple times when attempting to cancel the Amex SPG card.

Yehuda

Just call amex straight

farmer

why call? just chat

Yman

It’s been 2 weeks, and still not all of my points have been transferred. Though SPG says it is their own fault and forwarded me to their “research team” which has responded that there is a large volume of requests that they are handling so it will take some time until this is all sorted out. I actually got through to a Marriott representative in a relatively quickly amount of time – about 10 minutes, and she was very helpful and tried dealing with the issue with herself and a supervisor. I did call when it was 6 AM though. SPG representatives though are still just as uninformed as the Marriott representatives before the merger.

Doug

To those of us who gambled and lost on the travel packages… nobody has a right to whine, including me.

Okay, so Marriott sucks… live and learn. Stop collecting Marriott points, use the ones you have or transfer them out, and start staying at Hilton and Hyatt.

One must adapt to the times. Marriott is doing it, so must we.

Stg

Ask yourself why we were forced to gamble with our hard earned points in the first place. It should never have had to be a “gamble”. Especially with Marriotts own social media people purposely leading their members down the wrong path. Just wrong, wrong, wrong for such a large company.

Doug

You entitled fool… nobody was FORCED to do anything. You could have easily kept your “hard earned” points and simply booked rooms or did whatever you would have done with the last year.

Be gone, whiner.

Davidehi

Well, transferred 100,000 SPG points to Marriott and was supposed to get 300,000 Marriott points. Nothing doing, I got 100,000 Marriott points in my Marriott account. Thus, missing 200,000 Marriott points. When I called I was told this was a known issue that was being fixed. That was two weeks ago, no fix. Also, missing hotel nights and they have not credited me with the 5 elite night credit for hitting 50 nights. This is the worst performance I have ever seen from a major company at any level. Hilton and Hyatt are looking better by the day!!

Yehuda

Absurdity. Some of my points never transferred for some reason. When i called, i was hung up on. Site wont let me link my accounts either. Keeps redirecting to the link accounts page. Personally i would just use up my points and keep my spg amex for the free anniversary night. Until they somehow screw their customers with that

JohnB

I have always hated Marriott! I stayed at Marriott Courtyard as a paying customer and JW Marriott HKG paid by other people’s points. I was impressed with neither. The whole Mormon thing is a big put off as well. They always seemed cheap with everything. What has so far transpired was expected by me!

Rob

Moderator? Really?

JohnB

I was not impressed with either Marriott stays.

David

I canceled a 360,000 point stay on 8/19 and I immediately knew I had an issue when I saw the cancelation in my activity but the points did not show up in my balance. I called multiple times and eventually told that it would show up within 10 days. On day 11, I called and was amazingly told by 3 different supervisors that the points must be in my balance since they show in my activity and they have no way to check my previous balance. Thankfully, I have an email with them with my previous balance and I sent them email proving the points were not added back to my account despite the cancelation showing in my activity. Still waiting for this to be resolved. Absolutely ridiculous!!

Jeremy

Couldn’t agree more Dan. Also look at the Ritz club level upgrade certificates offered through the Ritz credit card. I tried redeeming one on an upcoming stay at the Ritz in Jakarta, and Marriott proceeded to upgrade my reservation ALONG WITH THE ROOM RATE! Not only did they use one of my certificates, but my rate also increased to the same rate as booking a club level room directly online. Wow. After over 2hrs on the phone with Marriott reps and supervisors, they informed me that my base room rate booking wasn’t eligible for the upgrade cert to be attached. The cert could only be applied if paying the increased rate! I cancelled the reservation completely and will preferentially avoid Marriott associated brands as much as possible in the future. Glad I redeemed my Marriott Rewards points for 4 travel packages – hasta luego Marriott!

Make

Dan, if one wanted to simply replace their SPG (with the 33% devaluation) what would you suggest. Keeping our chase quidfecta and similar strategies and complicated spending structure. Just a simple switch if I did 80% of my purchases on SPG (for points and Amex purchase protection) what would you switch to?

Sam

After seeing the complaints, which hotel credit cards preferred now? IHG or World of Hyatt? or others? Thanks!

Jaime

Just an idea, now that the merger has shown a real mess, maybe Hyatt will match the Marriott’s status of their members and that way get the frustrated members to become loyal to Hyatt….

ambassador

I spent over 50k at marriot (and have over 150 nights this year)in 2017 but not showing platinum plus ambassador.

Oscar

When I opened a chase Marriott card couple of year ago I saw right away that it’s a waste to collect there points, I racked up Amex mr, and chase ur points, when I heard about the merger last year I stopped collecting spg, I smelled the Marriott in them, and didn’t like it

DR

They still owe me my 6 nights – and I called the, they created a case, and nothing. These folks are so inept it is pathetic!

Keepsmiling123

1) incorrect status. Shows Silver Elite when I should be Platinum Elite
2) incorrect points after linking/combining accounts. Still short 45k
3) missing night credits, Upgrade Certs, and Sign up Ritz nights

David

I did expect the worst, and linked my 7 day voucher in June, however it turns out the dates are no good for me, my category 8 hotel is now the new category 6, will I be able to change the dates? or is my voucher valued at category 5 and changing would risk losing the hotel!?

Maifriend

Don’t expect the best from Marriott but the worst which means your certificate will lose value. Thinking that way can only yield a surprise.

Damon

Used my free Marriott night for a hotel stay yesterday. Only way to book was via the reservation #…which took 45 minutes of hold time. The recording repeats the same 3 phrases over and over again. At least give me some terrible jazz music.

Ori

Why Hyatt did not yet strike back with an increased signing bonus in their cc is beyond my understanding.

Maifriend

I’m stuck with 3 certificates. Unlike what Obama said during his inauguration, with Marriott it’s “No we can’t”

playalaguna

Marriott has always been backwards looking and stingy. Nothing done to date shows any difference. I have lifetime status, but feel the need to look elsewhere.

JS

I got the benefit of the faulty Marriott system last year. They thought I cancelled a room and refunded me 175k Marriott points. When I told them I never cancelled it, they reinstated my room, but never charged me again for those points

Barry Graham

Hopefully you told them.

Platty

I was lucky enough to book at the W South Beach for 60k points per night. This is an all-suite property. It’ll be going up to 85k standard next year

Barry Graham

My Platinum Premier with Ambassador status is currently not showing and although I have 776 lifetime nights showing, it’s showing me as Lifetime Platinum (although in fairness they did say that people who earned LTPP by combining accounts wouldn’t be notified of the new status until January).

I don’t feel the same way about this being a fiasco. Since I know what is involved in a merger like this I am actually quite impressed with what they have achieved. I’m prepared to wait it out.

Barry Graham

Yay, my Lifetime Platinum Premier is now showing.

Upset

Did anyone notice that they changed qualifying for United silver from platinum to platinum premier after the merger? I was originally told I qualified

Stg

First thank you for this article. You are the first blogger I have seen to truly lay out the issues. All I see is TPG still falling all over themselves praising the new program.

It is a complete disaster. But my biggest issue is with how they handled the Travel Packages. I still can’t believe that not only was it ‘worse case scenario, but they won’t even allow an upgrade. They forced their loyal customers into a position to have to gamble ( completely wrong) and then their social media people leaked false information. And now they are forcing people to hold onto, in a lot of cases, downgraded, useless, certificates.

I have been in high levels of Marketing for a long time, I have never seen something this underhanded and deceiving by a company.

Marriott needs to seriously recognize they are on the verge of a complete PR nightmare. Instead of worrying about “the spin”, they need to come to the table and take care of their loyal customers properly.

Do the right thing Marriott..it’s time!!

TexanMOT

“Marriott needs to seriously recognize they are on the verge of a complete PR nightmare. Instead of worrying about “the spin”, they need to come to the table and take care of their loyal customers properly.”

If only! Their occupancy rates are at record highs. My guess is that nobody at Marriott is losing sleep over alienating a few thousand “travel hackers” and points enthusiasts along with the the few honest travel bloggers.

Those of us old enough to remember being on the wrong side of the Continental/UA merger have seen this movie before. United may have been “on the verge of a complete PR nightmare” back then, but their “punishment” was record profitability a short time after.

Avi

Dan – do you know if you can now book at SPG properties? Given that the St. Regis Bora Bora is Cat 7 until February, are we able to book using Tier 4-5 certificates on them until February?

Frank

Still on hold….30 minutes and counting. Free hotel night from credit card magically disappeared from my account.

Bob Mobach

thank you for calling them out. its been nothing but a disaster and getting worse actually Vs. Better. there should be a new CIO next week if they had any Customer integrity
worst merger ever and still just getting punished for being a loyal SPG member. they were way better. 1 Hotel brand here we come

BostonTV

Many problems indeed. They lost over 100 lifetime nights in my statements but cannot identify which one so it still not corrected since months. My birthdate has changed in their system during the migration and it took 2 attemps and 3 months to get it corrected. But most of all they completely lost the Starwood spirit and we now have everywhere the heavy procedural approach from Marriott.
Eveeything goes to policy, there is no space anymore for dialogue and long term relationship.

Since August with more then 25 stays I was upgraded only once, in Bahrein. Many times including today in Barcelona I was told that no better room was available but I was able (as today) to book a better room. So they are obviously not respecting their upgrade committment.
Free breakfast is now a strange negociation as every hotel has its own rules, starting with a $10 voucher valued €5! However you always finish on a discussion about policy and never about loyalty.
I was a SPG because it gave an easier and better relationship at reception. I wasn’t checking other offers and had higher expenses as I was getting much consideration (and maybe points, but I never used them) in return. Now I got policies and complexity.
Therefore, even if I will be Platinum in 2019 I decided to invest my loyalty with other hotels.

b

can i still buy travel package?

Lori

I’m upset because now they cannot find my husbands reward account. Like it never existed. Never mind the years of loyal Marriott stays. They say we don’t have an account. Pretty upset here- anyone else have this problem and any ideas on how to fix it, we called twice and “sorry”…

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