Poof! There go your hard-earned points. Employees at budget hotels are using a variety of strategies to deny travelers their rewards, including typing the wrong name in a guest’s reservation or failing to include important frequent-stayer information.
Robert Duval has experienced the point-taken scam twice in the last month.
Both times, the desk clerks checking me in have entered my middle name on the hotel bill without entering my first name. In both cases the desk clerks were taking the information from my driver’s license, which clearly states my full name. In both cases, the desk personnel also failed to enter frequent stayer information into the record.
Interestingly, these incidents happened at hotels owned by different chains.
The first case was at a Travelodge in Amarillo, Tex. Although there was a brochure right next to the counter that said you could sign up for Trip Rewards at the front desk, the desk clerk insisted that you could not — even after being shown the brochure.
The bill was issued without my first name, and Trip Rewards has given me the runaround ever since, to the point that I told them to close the account I had created, and that I would avoid their properties in the future.
When they were informed of this interesting pattern of front desk personnel using middle names to avoid issuing stay points, the customer service supervisor I spoke with got defensive, told me that I could not claim it was pervasive as the other instance was at another chain, and that each property was individually owned and that the owner was responsible for training desk personnel.
The second case took place at an Econolodge property in Bay City, Mich.
Exactly the same situation, except that I am a long-time Choice Rewards member and also gave him my Choice Rewards card at check-in. Again, middle name on the bill and no credit for the stay. I have not yet contacted Choice Rewards, but expect them to be much more interested in sorting this out than Trip Rewards was.
Duval doesn’t think these slip-ups are a coincidence, and wonders who else has had a middle name problem.
Why would a hotel deny guests their reward points? There are several possible explanations. Franchises may shoulder some of the costs of the points, and by making the rewards difficult to get, they may be saving money. Historically, travel companies have too many unredeemed award points and are constantly trying to reduce their liability by offering customers many ways to redeem their awards.
Either way, there’s no good reason for playing name games with guests.
Update (5/2): A Choice Rewards representative contacted me after reading this post. “We have researched this and found that we received the stay without the member number in the stay record and added the points into the account on 4/30,” the representative told me. “We have also contacted the hotel to coach them on proper procedure.”