A polite complaint just scored me 30,000 Marriott points

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Honey will take you a lot further in the travel world than vinegar. Many MMS staffers have multiple examples of earning free flights, free hotel nights, free points, etc., simply by asking in a friendly way when something goes wrong. Examples that I can remember off the top of my head include 20,000 hotel points, a $150 flight voucher, and waived resort fees.

If you’ve got a valid complaint, speak up! It could mean hundreds of dollars in your pocket. Here’s how I just received 30,000 points for a quick grievance email.

The W Miami Brickell has one of the most impressive hotel pools I’ve ever seen. Behind me is a gorgeous bay view. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)

Pool closure = 30,000 Marriott points

I’m at the five-star W Miami Brickell right now, on my way home from Hawaii (hotel reviews to come, including Hyatt’s newly acquired Hana-Maui Resort!!). My entire reason for visiting this W hotel was the WET Deck — a series of pools on the 15th floor rooftop that equal the length of a football field. In every direction are striking skyscraper residences. It’s the most impressive hotel pool experience I’ve had to this point.

But when checking into the hotel yesterday morning, the front desk informed me that the pool was closed indefinitely due to “unexpected circumstances.” I saw nothing about this on the hotel website, and I certainly didn’t receive any notice. Turns out the pool had been closed for days.

The staffers expressed their sympathies and even acknowledged that a lot of guests book the hotel solely for the rooftop pool experience. To compensate, the hotel was providing $20 in Uber credit to visit the pool of their sister property, the St. Regis Bal Harbour, 30 minutes away. Two things:

  • There’s no chance $20 in Uber credit would have been enough to cover even one direction of that trip
  • The St. Regis pool doesn’t provide the awesome spectacle of the W Miami Brickell

So when I received an automated email from the hotel manager, I decided to drop the hint.

When you’re dealing with hotel management and not the generic hotel chain entity, I find that things actually get done. That’s why I chose to respond with a compliment sandwich: Expressions of positivity with the chief concerns in the middle. I’m telling you, the nicer you are, the better your chances that you’ll be compensated.

The response came just hours later, with an apology and an offer of 30,000 Marriott points. This is an excellent response from management, and I think harping on the fact that my chief motivation for spending 50,000 points at this hotel was to use a currently out-of-order facility made a difference.

Note: I did not know this at the time, but the hotel pool would open early the next morning. So I had half a day to enjoy the pool views and I received 30,000 points.

We estimate Marriott points value to be 0.8 cents each, so 30,000 points equals $230 in value. However, you can get a much bigger value if you know how to use Marriott points.

For example, I spent 50,000 points for this stay at the W Miami. Rooms currently start at $475 per night — and my upgraded suite room costs $600+ per night. That means I’m getting a value between 0.95 cents and 1.2 cents each. In other words, 30,000 points could equate to $360 for this particular trip.

Side-note: The hotel is great

There’s a lot to love about the W Miami Brickell. It’s in an insanely walkable location overlooking the Miami South Channel. It’s just a few feet from a gorgeous river walk! The hotel’s pool and rooftop epitomize a climactic rendezvous between Michael Weston and a corrupt business magnate.

W hotels are known for their swankiness, and this is a flagship hotel for swank. I used my Suite Night Award to book a Marvelous Suite (which you earn after reaching Platinum and Titanium Marriott elite status), and while its decor wasn’t my speed, the room, balcony, and bathroom(s) were all oversized.

Living room
Bedroom
Bathroom 1 of 2

Even if booking a standard room, the facilities and location are worth the points. The hotel is just far enough away from South Beach that everyone’s physique is still realistic, and you won’t feel ashamed when walking around in your swimsuit. If you’re interested in showing off your eight-pack abs, this might not be the Miami scene you’re looking for.

Bottom line

Don’t manufacture a complaint if you don’t have one — but don’t feel sheepish to speak up if you think you’re entitled to some sort of compensation when an airline or hotel under-delivers!

Especially in the age of coronavirus, you may find that the spa access or free activities included with your resort fee aren’t currently available. If that’s the case, ask the front desk if they can waive your resort fee or perhaps offer bonus points. There are plenty of totally valid reasons you may feel a bit “wronged.” Just do not make something up.

Let me know if you’ve been compensated for something recently — it’s good to know what to watch out for! And subscribe to our newsletter for more posts like this delivered to your inbox once per day.

Feature image courtesy of Marriott
All photos by the author.

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Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals. He has also authored and edited for The Points Guy.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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