Have We Become Obsessed About Getting Bonvoyed?

by joeheg

When I wrote about the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant credit card, I said that it was the best card to get benefits but you run the risk of being Bonvoyed. I wasn’t trying to be funny, it was a serious warning. Whenever you sign up for a new credit card you have to weigh the positives against the negatives. Currently, one of the negatives when dealing with Marriott is their inability and lack of concern for customers when things go wrong. In short, getting Bonvoyed.

I know that one of the rules of the internet is not to read the comments section. But since this is our website, I have to keep an eye on the comments. I’ve found doing so occasionally forces me to review what I said in the post. Was I being fair or biased? Do I need to reconsider the position I’ve had about something for a long time? Are all of us bloggers stuck in an echo chamber, proving ourselves right about things?

This was one such comment:

Reader J.D. wrote in a reply

The #BONVOYED meme has gotten a little out of hand–a lot of what I’ve seen complaints for were people who took advantage of IT issues and had unintendedly low booking rates for expensive properties and then got MAD that they were caught. I mean….?

Is this true? Is all the Bonvoyed stuff just noise around the edges like Marriott’s CEO Arne Sorenson said? As far as the claim about people booking “mistake” rates and getting mad when they were caught, I’d like to see some evidence, as these are not the #Bonvoyed cases I’ve seen.

What does getting Bonvoyed mean?

I thought about it. Sure, some of the #Bonvoyed posts are just people dealing with normal inconveniences that happen with any type of travel.  Something like this:

Sure #Bonvoyed has become what you call any problem at all with a Marriott hotel property. But that’s not the real meaning.

Being Bonvoyed is getting stuck in the quagmire of Marriott Bonvoy’s customer service system. A place where the technology is broken and the representatives have no power so they make no effort to try and fix problems. I imagine that if Marriott was based in the U.K., it may have been called a #Bonvoyshambles.

They may mess up your reservation or overcharge you

In the last month, two bloggers (Richard from the AwardTravel 101 Facebook Group and Summer (AKA Mommy Points) from TPG Family) both had absolutely terrible experiences with Marriott Bonvoy.

Richard eventually gave up, canceled his reservation and changed to a Hyatt while Summer had to wait for the “Bonvoy Assist” Twitter team to get involved to get her points back after several hours on the phone and being told that she was lying.

They’re not the only ones. The Bonvoyed website now has over 1,200 entries from people telling their battle stories with Marriott Customer Service.

How bad has this become? The fear of having a problem is now keeping people from booking at Marriott hotels or making them not call in when an issue arises.

They might not give back points or free night certificates

Take the story from Nick on Frequent Miler. He lost track of a free night certificate that never showed up in his account. While his take is about the search for the email, the underlying issue is why didn’t the certificate show up automatically and why should he need to follow up just to get back what was his? This was Marriott’s explanation:

I asked her if certificates need to be manually reinstated like this after canceling. She told me that sometimes the certificates automatically detach from the reservation when you cancel, but sometimes they stick and need to be manually detached from the reservation.

So sometimes things work but oftentimes they don’t. That should be the new Bonvoy slogan.

They might not give you the right number of points (or any points at all)

#Bonvoyed can also apply to the earning of points in the Bonvoy program. What if you don’t receive credit or the proper number of points for a stay? Bonvoy is asking the guest to provide the folio (receipt) in order to get credit. This isn’t from a partner but from one of their own hotels and you need to provide them with a receipt.

On a personal note, fear of getting Bonvoyed was part of why I changed some of our vacation plans. Case in point, for my New York stay at the Chatwal that I booked for 60,000 points, I didn’t have enough points in my account so I had to wait to finalize the reservation. Because the hotel increased to 80,000 points, that’s the price which showed up online, even though it was 60,000 points when I placed it on hold. According to this article on One Mile at a Time, I’d have to call Marriott to complete the reservation.

It might have gone fine. Maybe it wouldn’t have. I was already on the fence about the stay because I had a good backup option available. The fear of getting Bonvoyed led me to take the cheaper option, earning less money for Marriott.

Final Thoughts

So back to the main reason for the article. Am I (are we) taking the #Bonvoyed thing too far? NOPE! This is a real problem happening to real people. It may be little, like some missing points, or it could be major, totally ruining a vacation or you end up missing hundreds of thousands of points.

These are not isolated incidents and we’re only hearing the horror stories. I’m sure there are a ton more instances where people had to spend hours to get back points or money or reservations that Bonvoy messed up in some way or another. You’re just less likely to vent online when everything ends up OK. If you got what you deserved, no sense in complaining about it, even if it took more effort than it needed to.

So with Marriott and Bonvoy, I’m still taking the opinion that when you make a reservation, you do so at your own risk.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Christian June 10, 2019 - 1:15 pm

Nicely said. I’d find all the problems less maddening if Marriott wasn’t doing so much to Bonvoy the customer intentionally. Does anyone really believe that there are no supervisors around, or if you do reach one that they don’t know how to fix a problem? Marriott just doesn’t care, and that’s what’s causing these problems.

Steve June 12, 2019 - 11:27 am

Yup, was Bonvoyed, Had a 5 night reservation at the Grand Cayman Marriott applied my 5 suite night award. Went to 4 nights at the Westin (A wise choice) as I couldn’t get 5. When the rep moved the reservation, the 5 suite nights got stuck in limbo. Took 5 calls since everyone said it would take effect tomorrow and another $100 to finally cancel the one night at the Marriott, get the suite nights back and then re-do the one night for $100 more (Plus the wonderful $60 resort fee that they really need to abolish as well)

Rich June 12, 2019 - 11:48 am

Marriott management appears to be both delusional and tone deaf. I believe this is partially because of a very bad case of groupthink. The managers get in meetings and decide amongst themselves that everything is just great.

Here’s part of the problem, and I caveat this with the statement that I’m in no way taking up for Marriott, but there are way too many Marriott Bonvoy members now. With merits absorption and combining of programs of Marriott, Starwood, and Ritz-Carlton, I believe they’re overwhelmed. On two recent stays at Marriott properties, a manager at one told me that they had 60 Marriott Elite members at that particular hotel the evening I stayed there. That stay was a disaster, which is why I ended up speaking to the manager. On the second stay the front desk upgraded me, because they said I was polite! But they too told me that they had 34 Marriott Lifetime Titanium Elite members in the hotel over the weekend I was there.

This tells me that Marriott is just simply too big and too much of a bureaucracy to handle all of the Bonvoy Elite members. Having said that, they might make some headway, if they weren’t fully engaged in group think and patting themselves on the back for creating the Bonvoy program. So, no, I don’t think you’re being biased towards Marriott, and I think you’re being more than fair. Getting Bonvoyed is a real issue that Marriott needs to address.

Beth June 14, 2019 - 2:39 pm

I think for me, it was more about being told one thing, and then having that taken back 2 days before departure. I put a hold on a hotel before it increased in points, but there was a charge for the club. I emailed as I am a platinum to see if they would waive it. I figured they would say no, but didn’t hear anything for months.
I got an email from corporate telling me they were closing my request. I said I had never heard anything back. The hotel got back to me and said they would gladly waive the additional vlub fee. That was very nice and unnecessary. I asked about booking at the pre-increase in points and if that was still possible. They said they couldn’t honor that but would be happy to deposit the difference in my account.
In no way was I expecting this or thought it was my right. I sent the initial email figuring it couldn’t hurt to ask and if they said no it would be ok. I notice that the deposit some points, but not enough to make up the difference and reach out. I hear nothing for awhile. Two days before I leave, I get an email saying they will not give me points or waive the fee. I asked what changed and offered the original emails several times, only to have those ignored. I reach out to Marriott on social media to say that they are happy to document but will not do anything and I would go to this hotel at my own risk.
If these were not things they could do, why offer? Was it a weird plot to try to force me to stay there, thinking I wouldn’t move hotels last minute(I did)? All they had to do was initially decline or even ignore my email and life would have continued forward, but they caused a massive amount of run-around and simply refused to honor what they had previously said they would. Why would I chase loyalty with them?


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