One of the most asked questions for this government approved merger is how they would treat existing award certificates. Marriott and SPG had continually refused to give an answer to this question saying they would announce more details AFTER the merger was completed.
As you can see looking at the chart above, if you redeemed a Category 6, 8, or Tier 1-3 you paid extra points, but got 0 in return. Nice win for the Marriott accounting team!
SPG stated online that existing certificates would be converted back to points in the new program, but they could provide no further details. Given this was an official SPG account this may be used as legal material as something that is likely going to become a formal filing against the company in the coming weeks ahead.
Other sites speculated both optimistic and pessimistic views regarding the upcoming conversion. Some hoped they were going to offer a generous conversion and as such Marriott did not want to officially state that ahead of time to prevent reward program members from taking advantage of this. While some predicted that the certificates would surely be devalued or harder to use and to make your reservations as soon as possible.
We knew for certain given Marriott’s new redemption charts that new awards were going to be devalued for certain. But their refusal to provide guidance on what would happen to outstanding award certificates is where this becomes an issue.
On the date the merger officially took effect, they sent out the new award mappings along with a prepared statement. Clearly, they had planned the hosing in advance but wanted to take advantage of every member they could beforehand. They continually assured people who called in and verified their current award certificates would be honored at the same category of hotel in the new program until the end of the year.
This coupled with the recent efforts of Marriott’s Ireland support team undoing prior SPG customer team award grants for customer service issues, some going back more than two years shows you what kind of bottom line anti-customer approach Marriott is taking with their customer base.
Unfortunately, in the US, there are not a lot of choices for similar types of properties to choose from. Hilton is, of course, the biggest option available as your alternate choice. Hyatt has some great properties but does not have near the geographic coverage to serve as wide a range of business travelers needs.
For Marriott, I think the cat is out of the bag in regards to additional damage to their reputation during this process. The only short-term resolution is going to be to honor people’s categories in the new system for those that had award certificates prior to the merger and Marriott’s information release. I don’t prefer a refund of points for the difference, as then you are stuck with points in a hotel system you may not want to support going forward.