A polite complaint just scored me 30,000 Marriott points

Honey will take you a lot further in the travel world than vinegar. Many MMS staffers have multiple examples of earning free flights, free hotel nights, free points, etc., simply by asking in a friendly way when something goes wrong. Examples that I can remember off the top of my head include 20,000 hotel points, a $150 flight voucher, and waived resort fees.

If you’ve got a valid complaint, speak up! It could mean hundreds of dollars in your pocket. Here’s how I just received 30,000 points for a quick grievance email.

Pool closure = 30,000 Marriott points

I’m at the five-star W Miami Brickell right now, on my way home from Hawaii (hotel reviews to come, including Hyatt’s newly acquired Hana-Maui Resort!!). My entire reason for visiting this W hotel was the WET Deck — a series of pools on the 15th floor rooftop that equal the length of a football field. In every direction are striking skyscraper residences. It’s the most impressive hotel pool experience I’ve had to this point.

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But when checking into the hotel yesterday morning, the front desk informed me that the pool was closed indefinitely due to “unexpected circumstances.” I saw nothing about this on the hotel website, and I certainly didn’t receive any notice. Turns out the pool had been closed for days.

The staffers expressed their sympathies and even acknowledged that a lot of guests book the hotel solely for the rooftop pool experience. To compensate, the hotel was providing $20 in Uber credit to visit the pool of their sister property, the St. Regis Bal Harbour, 30 minutes away. Two things:

  • There’s no chance $20 in Uber credit would have been enough to cover even one direction of that trip
  • The St. Regis pool doesn’t provide the awesome spectacle of the W Miami Brickell

So when I received an automated email from the hotel manager, I decided to drop the hint.

When you’re dealing with hotel management and not the generic hotel chain entity, I find that things actually get done. That’s why I chose to respond with a compliment sandwich: Expressions of positivity with the chief concerns in the middle. I’m telling you, the nicer you are, the better your chances that you’ll be compensated.

The response came just hours later, with an apology and an offer of 30,000 Marriott points. This is an excellent response from management, and I think harping on the fact that my chief motivation for spending 50,000 points at this hotel was to use a currently out-of-order facility made a difference.

Note: I did not know this at the time, but the hotel pool would open early the next morning. So I had half a day to enjoy the pool views and I received 30,000 points.

We estimate Marriott points value to be 0.8 cents each, so 30,000 points equals $230 in value. However, you can get a much bigger value if you know how to use Marriott points.

For example, I spent 50,000 points for this stay at the W Miami. Rooms currently start at $475 per night — and my upgraded suite room costs $600+ per night. That means I’m getting a value between 0.95 cents and 1.2 cents each. In other words, 30,000 points could equate to $360 for this particular trip.

Side-note: The hotel is great

There’s a lot to love about the W Miami Brickell. It’s in an insanely walkable location overlooking the Miami South Channel. It’s just a few feet from a gorgeous river walk! The hotel’s pool and rooftop epitomize a climactic rendezvous between Michael Weston and a corrupt business magnate.

W hotels are known for their swankiness, and this is a flagship hotel for swank. I used my Suite Night Award to book a Marvelous Suite (which you earn after reaching Platinum and Titanium Marriott elite status), and while its decor wasn’t my speed, the room, balcony, and bathroom(s) were all oversized.

Even if booking a standard room, the facilities and location are worth the points. The hotel is just far enough away from South Beach that everyone’s physique is still realistic, and you won’t feel ashamed when walking around in your swimsuit. If you’re interested in showing off your eight-pack abs, this might not be the Miami scene you’re looking for.

Bottom line

Don’t manufacture a complaint if you don’t have one — but don’t feel sheepish to speak up if you think you’re entitled to some sort of compensation when an airline or hotel under-delivers!

Especially in the age of coronavirus, you may find that the spa access or free activities included with your resort fee aren’t currently available. If that’s the case, ask the front desk if they can waive your resort fee or perhaps offer bonus points. There are plenty of totally valid reasons you may feel a bit “wronged.” Just do not make something up.

Let me know if you’ve been compensated for something recently — it’s good to know what to watch out for! And subscribe to our newsletter for more posts like this delivered to your inbox once per day.

Feature image courtesy of MarriottAll photos by the author.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Annual fee

$95

Welcome offer

Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.

Why we like it

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of our top credit cards for both beginners and frequent travelers. It comes with a huge welcome bonus, solid ongoing points earning on bonus categories and some great travel perks. The travel perks like delayed baggage and flight insurance will easily cover the already reasonable annual fee of $95. It earns valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points which is one of the best flexible points currencies: you can transfer to a number of travel partners like Hyatt and United, easily redeem for any type of travel through the Chase portal where you’ll get 25% bonus or even earn straight cash back.

Who is it best for?

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is great for just about anyone. It’s large welcome bonus makes it easy to get immediate value and you’ll easily rack up points with its broad bonus categories, earning double points on all travel and dining purchases. Chase points allow for easy redemptions made through the Chase Travel Portal, which allows you to book any sort of travel with no blackout dates, and you’ll get better value from your points compared to other bank’s travel portals.

Credit Score Recommended

Credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Good to Excellent

660

850

Details

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.

Pros

  • Valuable sign up bonus
  • Flexible points
  • Unique transfer partners like Hyatt and United
  • Great travel and trip delay insurance

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Ongoing points earning is lower compared to other cards

Reward Rate

  • 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel.
  • 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

APR

15.99%-22.99% Variable

Credit Needed

Goodto Excellent

Foreign Transaction Fee

$0

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