All Leslie McCormick wanted was to convert her Marriott points to American Airlines miles. But what should have been a simple transaction was complicated by a little red tape and a severed corporate relationship, and now McCormick’s points are going nowhere.
If nothing else, her story underscores the fickle — some might say, unreliable — nature of loyalty programs. But in the end, it also shows that some companies truly value your business.
Like many people, I received several e-mails from American Airlines detailing that their relationship with Marriott would end on June 30th and no additional stays or points would be converted to miles after that date.
I have been married for over four years, but on a phone call to Marriott Rewards on June 14th to ensure my recent five-night stay at the Marriott Orlando World Center (as well as other previously earned points) was converted to miles, I was told that a points to miles conversion could not take place until Marriott updated their system with my married name which American Airlines has on file (names on both profiles – Marriott and American Airlines – must match).
So I faxed over, the same day, a blown-up copy of my driver’s license for them to see my married name and, thus, change the name on my Marriott profile and convert my points to miles.
She never heard back from Marriott. So a few weeks later, she phoned the company. After several false starts, she reached a customer service representative who delivered the bad news. Some of her points were converted, but the ones she initiated just before June 30 weren’t. She was too late. An email from Marriott explains its position:
I have received the request back and the stay that you had in May of 2010 is eligible to be converted to American Airline miles as the stay was completed before June 30, 2010. However, we would not be able to send a mileage reward over. American Airlines will not accept any new mileage rewards.
I apologize for the inconvenience. I will award you with 5,000 bonus points for the mishap. If you have any additional questions please let us know.
In fact, McCormick did have some additional questions. She appealed to a supervisor, but was given the same answer. She was told there were “thousands” of other Marriott guests with the same problem, too.
If McCormick met the deadline, then she should have been able to convert her points. So I contacted Marriott on her behalf.
A short while later, a representative contacted her with some good news:
He stated that while it was after the 30 June deadline, he had enough documentation to be able to go back to American Airlines and request a manual conversion given that my request dated to 14 June.
We had a longer conversation about treating this as a training opportunity for his supervisors. On Friday, American Airlines manually converted my points to miles; I received my credit for 3,000 miles for the remainder of my Marriott Rewards points.
Thanks again for sending my note to Marriott and helping me resolve this.
I have a problem with loyalty programs, and I generally advise people against playing the points game.
But if you play, play to win.
(Photo: some time song/Flickr Creative Commons)