Travel Troubleshooter: 80,000 Bonvoy points go missing. Can we get them back?
Celeste Rubanick loses 80,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when she books a hotel in Scotland. Why won't the company restore the points?
Q: I made reservations at the Residence Inn in Edinburgh, Scotland, for two nights using 80,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. I recently received a notification from Marriott claiming that I had used the points for a stay almost three weeks earlier.
I called Marriott, and they assigned me a case number. I have been going back and forth with the company ever since.
I was on the phone for more than two hours speaking to several agents, one of whom told me, "You're not going to get these points back until we find out who took them." I have tried the executive contacts on your website, but have received no reply. It's been 10 weeks since Marriott took my Bonvoy points. Can you help me get them back? -- Celeste Rubanick, Cornville, Arizona
A: Marriott deducted points from your account for someone else's stay. It should have quickly restored your loyalty points when you pointed out the problem -- not strung you along for 10 weeks.
What happened to your points? It appears an unauthorized party gained access to your account. It's unclear how that happened.
There are certain things you should do for any online account like Marriott's Bonvoy program. You can enable two-factor authentication (you can do that in the settings of your Bonvoy account). Also, consider using a complex phrase as a password and updating it frequently.
I'm not comfortable with Marriott's assertion that it needed to find the points before it returned them to your account. That could happen tomorrow or next week -- or never. Marriott needs a better system to verify if someone used points for fraudulent purposes, and the process should be quick.
You blazed a paper trail, which included contacting Marriott's executives in writing after all other efforts failed. I'm surprised the executives didn't bother responding. Usually, they will delegate an assistant to help facilitate a fast resolution. Marriott also has a reputation for great customer service, although it has also faced some criticism from travelers about its Bonvoy loyalty program.
Unfortunately, there's no other place to appeal this type of problem. If the executives don't respond, you're out of luck ... unless you get me involved. I reviewed your case, and I agreed with you that 10 weeks is far too long to wait for a resolution. I contacted Marriott on your behalf.
In response, Marriott sent you an email acknowledging "unauthorized activity" on your Bonvoy account. "Evidence shows unauthorized account access with data compromise of an unknown source," the email said.
Marriott recommended that you change your password and enable two-factor authentication. It also restored the 80,000 missing Bonvoy points.
Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy (elliottadvocacy.org), a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or get help by contacting him at elliottadvocacy.org/help/.
(c) 2023 Christopher Elliott
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