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Problems with Marriott 3 nights for price of 2 offer

I received this e-mail to ValueIreland.com a week or so ago. Upon initial review, I was about to post it here with some derogatory comments about the Marriott Hotel chain and to sympathise with the “misled and deceived” reader who sent it in.

I recently had a very bad experience with a Marriott hotel and wanted to warn other customers.

I  booked a special offer in a london Marriott hotel. Originally i followed a link on  the marriott rewards home page, under a 3 for 2 offer. Through this link i made 2 bookings, for 2 different marriot hotels in london. 1)the Grosvenor and 2)Chancery court. When i received my confirmation the total price for the stay stated was for the full three nights, for both hotels. I emailed one of the hotels’ customer care(Grosvenor) to clarify this. I received confirmation that the third night would be deducted at the end of my stay.

Happy that this was the case i cancelled one of  the bookings, for the Grosvenor,(both had been made for the same dates). Upon ckeck-out I was then told that , no sorry, this was not the case and I  had to pay for all three nights.

I subsequently emailed Marriott, who said that the 3 for 2 offer did not apply to the hotel i stayed in and the confirmation i had received applied only to the other hotel.

I asked them how i was allowed to make a booking for a hotel that is part of the marriott group from a 3 for 2 link on their website under the pretenses of a 3 for 2 offer if it did not apply, especially when i received confirmation from a sister hotel in the same city, belonging to the marriott group, that it did apply. They simply said that it did not apply, sorry, end of story.

I feel I was very much misled and deceived by Marriott and would like to make others aware so they don’t fall into the same trap, especially when it costs nearly 200euro per room per night not including breakfast,

Upon rereading before posting though, I’ve changed my mind. While the scenario obviously wasn’t favourable for the reader, to a certain extent, it’s probably more their fault than Marriott Hotels – more through naive assumptions rather than anything else.

  1. They booked two hotels – Grosvenor and Chancery Court.
  2. They checked terms and conditions with Grosvenor, but not with Chancery Court.
  3. Based on knowing Grosvenor terms and conditions, they cancelled Grosvenor
  4. They decided to stay in Chancery Court without having checked their terms and conditions
  5. And then got stung for paying for the 3rd night

It’s obvious now that the assumption that one hotel within the Marriott Hotel chain will operate the same as another was a step too far.

While the Grosvenor may have honoured the 3rd night free offer, this should not have been assumed to be the case for the Chancery Court. It is quite common for hotels that are branded the same are actually operated by different companies and therefore what’s good for the goose may not always be good for the gander.

In the scenario here, the reader should really have contacted the Chancery Court to confirm the same arrangements existed. Here’s a screenshot of the Marriott webpage advertising the offer.

As in all good advertising content, you can see the Terms and Conditions link provided. And the first sentence of these terms and conditions is:

Offer valid at participating international Marriott Hotels & Resorts, JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Renaissance Hotels & Resorts and Courtyard Hotels.

So in this case, no sympathy from me. Sorry reader!

4 comments On Problems with Marriott 3 nights for price of 2 offer

  • Totally disagree with you VI.
    Customers are supposed to be customers not lawyers.

    Are suppliers trying to get customers for life or con them with sleazy terms and conditions. Your probably legally right but I don’t think it’s a smart move for the Marriot to hide behind T & Cs.
    1. Special offers like this 3 for 2 are supposed to attract customers to use the product not leave a bad taste so that the customer never wants to use the supplier again.
    2, The supplier is in control of the web site. It is relatively easy for the supplier to ensure you can’t book a special offer if it is not valid. It’s just laziness not to spend the time and money on the website to make sure this does not happen. Amazon often tells me it can’t ship to Ireland.
    3. Hiding behind terms and conditions is a cop out. Customers should not have to crawl through pages of legal mumbo jumpo. The offer should be clear and simple to understand.

    I’d suggest your reader sends a friendly letter to the top person in Marriot UK outlining the above points. Bet they get the free night!

    I think VI should be for customer satisfaction not sloppy web sites and sleazy T & C’s.In my view you are taking far to legalistic an approach. What is legally required and what customer driven companies do are miles apart.

  • I agree with Paddy. If they are going to advertise like this the outlets that are NOT particpating in the deal should be stated at the time.

    It’s the same as if McDonalds were to advertise half price Big Macs and I show up for one but they tell me that that outlet is not particpating in the promotion. It’s misleading.

    That said, I’m surprised they reader didn’t check both hotels. It makes me think they knew and just chanced it.

  • @Paddy19, @Tom – Totally agree with you – customers should not and cannot be expected to be lawyers. However, there are bigger and more powerful organisations that can bring about change when it comes to any changes to laws regarding how terms and conditions might be advertised.

    One of my primary aims here on ValueIreland.com has always been “better purchasing decisions with better information”. And pointing out that despite what’s right and what’s wrong with the current rules and custom and practice, reading the terms and conditions and small print allows for these better purchasing decisions.

    As for business that carry on this way, I’ve highlighted on ValueIreland.com often enough that my belief is that many Irish businesses in particular are merely interested in the once off customer interaction – since there were plenty more following them in the good times. Because of that short termed view, trying to keep customers wasn’t high up on their list of priorities so such “small print” and terms and conditions were prevalent.

    Whether this attitude and way of doing business is a smart move or not will become evident in this current downturn. Those companies that looked after their customers in the good times will continue to do well, and those that don’t should, hopefully, suffer.

    In this particular situation, the fact that there are terms and conditions is highlighted on the offer, and the very first one on the list relates to this particular issue that the reader experienced.

    If customers don’t take it on themselves to look after their own interests when it comes to spending their money, they can’t really expect those people that want to relieve them of their money (fairly or unfairly) to do it for them.

    @Tom You might have something in your last point. I’m sure the reader is looking back now, realising that they should have made the two calls rather than just to the one.

  • @valueireland I have to agree with you because the internet is a self-serve environment. If people want to be certain on what a deal is, they should screen shot it and email it to the website for clarification or call the website. Calling the hotel directly is proof again, there is value in calling the central offices of a hotel company.

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