Marriott’s Broken Cancelation Policies

Filed Under: Marriott

I’ve been vocal about my frustrations with Marriott’s new loyalty program.

My issue isn’t even the program as such, but rather Marriott’s seeming inability to have it function properly. This seems to be an issue of Marriott’s IT being offensively bad, combined with Marriott giving hotels way too much leeway to just do whatever they want.

Over six months after a single program was formed (for all practical purposes) we’re still seeing a countless number of issues.

In this post I wanted to briefly touch on something that is only tangentially related to Marriott Bonvoy. About a week ago Steph wrote about how Marriott is requesting cash deposits for many refundable award stays, which seems a bit unreasonable to me.

But this seems to be part of a much bigger issue — what on earth is going on with Marriott’s cancelation policies? I’ve received no fewer than a dozen messages from readers per day lately asking for clarification on this stuff.

This isn’t just limited to award stays, but also applies to revenue stays. For example, I just tried to book a hotel and the confirmation page stated the following cancelation policy:

Changes to your reservation are not permitted. Please note that you may cancel your reservation for no charge until June 19, 2019. Please note that your prepayment for this special rate is non-refundable.

Here’s a screenshot, just in case you don’t believe that this is how the world’s largest hotel chain is displaying their cancelation policies:

This is only one example of the world’s largest hotel group displaying cancelation policies that can only be described as gibberish.

The odd thing is that this was never an issue in the past, but only in the past couple of weeks has this become a problem, so I have no clue who came in and said “meh, this is working too well, let’s see how we can screw this up.”

Marriott, please, please, please get your act together. This is embarrassing. I’m fine with Marriott Bonvoy not being Starwood Preferred Guest, I’d just love for the program to work the way it’s supposed to.

This isn’t “noise around the edges.”

  1. Absolutely killing me Marriott! I have a stay I booked with SPG last summer. My receipt with SPG last summer shows a 3 day cancellation policy. I am trying to cancel a stay that is in 3 weeks and Marriott swapped the cancellation terms without me knowing. Now they are claiming it is 30 days when I pull up the existing reservation. Total BS. Thus, I cannot and will not cancel on their website and I have been sitting on hold (30 min as I write this) while the inept Marriott reps claim that they will investigate and get back to me in 10 days. Worthless script readers. Last straw Marriott!

  2. Are you still bitter they rescinded some of your lifetime nights for LT titanium? But I do understand your frustration on the cancellation policies these days on award stays. They are all over the map.

  3. @ Christian. As a long time former Marriott “Associate” (19 years) Marriott stopped caring years ago. I blame it on Bill Marriott stepping down and putting a finance guy, Arne Sorenson, in charge. It went from caring about people to caring about numbers.

  4. I think when a hotel loyalty program passes a certain size, guests cease being the main client. Instead, all the attention goes on keeping the myriad of hotels happy since they are almost entirely on management contracts rather than owned.

  5. Am afraid that gibberish has been around for a while — saw it on a June 2018 reservation. I noticed it on Marriott sites shortly after the initial merger. Being an SPG loyalist, I thought it was just Marriott-speak for “we’re keeping your money”.

  6. I was Starwood since the beginning of the brand, and I’m pretty much done with them after the Marriott acquisition. All of these problems, the ruination of the loyalty program, crap IT, PLUS the Marriott hotels pretty much suck. They have a hundred different brands and some of them are pretty much crappy tarted-up motels (i.e., AC) and even the Ritz-Carltons are super commercial and often ordinary. Marrriot is just a crap hotel group, and no doubt the Starwood hotels will become crap too.

  7. @Lucky I honestly think there is only one way to get them to fix things, and fortunately for us it might just happen. Marriott’s quarterly earnings ( ) show exactly what all of us and Hilton have been saying for awhile….people are moving away from Marriott.

    For me, I need 67 more nights to lock in Lifetime Platinum, so Marriott will get those nights….but thats it! I’m Diamond with Hilton and Globalist with Hyatt and I’m staying with them until Marriott can get their act together. These last 12 months or so with them have been miserable…..

  8. The policy makes perfect sense. They keep your money, but won’t charge you any extra for the privilege of not showing up.

  9. Had to cancel a stay at Sheraton LAX; within the cancel period. I used the msg/chat feature in the Marriott app.

    Associate confirmed they could cancel and no penalty. A week later, hotel changed me.

    I made multiple calls to hotel Accounting and Managers on Duty; all to voicemail. No call back.

    Filed dispute with AmEx and included screen shots of chat session and the reservation with cancel policy. . AmEx sided with me.

    I encourage everyone to do document with screen shots or emails.

  10. The language used is confusing. Is it supposed to mean that you cannot change the dates of your stay but you can cancel and receive everything back but your prepayment? That’s the best reading I can get out of it.

  11. There are often direct contradictions between cancellation policies between app and website for same hotel, same day, same room and rate type.

    Also, sometimes the rates on the app are merely a subset of those on website. You can get a better deal by booking through desktop website…because reasons.

  12. Here’s a good one: Booked a stay at Le Meridien Lav (Croatia) for June 2019 using points and cash (5k + $75) pre-merger. When I checked the booking a few weeks ago, the cash portion was almost double ($225 vs. $440). At that price, I might as well pay cash. I called and emailed a few times before I finally got it resolved directly through the hotel.

  13. Wah wah wah, quit your whining! Marriott is the greatest company in the world! How DARE you question anything they do!

    I have so much more to say about how much I love Marriott, but I have to run. I have a busy, busy weekend ahead of me, full of hanging out with other Z-list celebrities!

  14. Even when the policy is not gibberish it is vague. SPG used to quote the exact hour and minute on what day you had to cancel. Marriott leaves so much ambiguity. What time on the day? 24 hours before what? Totally unclear, and amazing that they can still be so incompetent.

  15. I cancelled a refundable Marriott reservation and rebooked it at the prepaid rate for 10x UA promotion a few days ago but the charge hasn’t hit my card yet. Not even pending but I have a confirmation number and it shows up in the app. Lol idk

  16. We’ve been getting a lot of Marriott hate in these posts recently. Are you pissed off they invited TPG and not you to the oscars

  17. Marriott reservation confirmations seem to be dynamic and can be changed retroactively.

    I saved an upcoming Ritz-Carlton stay in Bali and when I went back to look at it they had changed it and, worst of all, removed the great rate and benefits.

    From now on we should take screenshots of every promise or confirmation so they cannot get away with this unethical practice. Screenshots cannot be changed by them but everything else is unreliable.

  18. Have 7 night stay booked at Westin in Brisbane this fall under certificate. Looked at reservation and says “Suite night awards not permitted.” Seems odd.can one not use certicate for stay and suite upgrade together?

  19. Noticed the following Cancellation policies when booking a PREPAID rate yesterday:
    “You may cancel your reservation for no charge until March 25, 2019 (2 day[s] before arrival). Please note that we will assess a fee of 203.06 USD if you must cancel after this deadline.”


    “Changes to your reservation are not permitted. Please note that you may cancel your reservation for no charge until March 2, 2019. Please note that your prepayment for this special rate is non-refundable.”

    I called customer service and was told prepaid rates are always non-refundable and I should ignore what the website says. lol.

  20. Soon to appear in this space:

    89 Reasons to get the Bumvoy Brilliant Card

    (It’s ALL about the conversions)

  21. It’s clear Marriott is not listening to its frustrated customers! It’s time for a change and it should start at the top with Arne Sorenson… then followed by the IT team.

  22. This Marriott Lifetime Titanium (missing the SPG days) is growing so sick and tired of everything regarding Marriott being “wrong”. It is almost like it’s done on purpose since no organization can be so consistently “out to lunch”. I just finished a stay at Westin Cozumel only to find no credit for a full price AAA rate, not even a welcome gift. After an hour on hold while a Marriott associate went back and forth with the hotel, the explanation was that the hotel “purged” the record! Who purges records? No explanation as to how, why or what. I still do not have my 15 CC nights in my account, for the longest time, the combined program would not recognize my Platinum Premier and on and on. Who has time for this stuff??? I am documenting everything in hard copy including screen shots (Thanks, Chris) so I will be prepared to challenge CC charges. I’m glad I picked up my Hilton Aspire card and possibly some sanity..

  23. Despite whining so much about marriott, it hasn’t stopped lucky from hawking marriott credit cards. Lucky, why don’t you show some integrity and refuse to promote marriott until they deal with all the problems?

  24. I am still having to call to get EVERY SINGLE STAY as of late credited. EVERY ONE. I don’t even bother with the Missing Stay request now as it never gets answered.

  25. Lol. The people on this site are incredible. They want to complain about service while gaming the system to travel for free with credit card points. The merger is great for Marriotts customers, the operators who pay them. As a former Starwood property owner, I can tell you the investments Marriott has made to make our lives easier are incredible.

    If you want your five star service while collecting miles, stay home. We can’t afford to keep increasing wages and adding benefits only for the “points” crew to come monopolize the properties from our paying customers. Frankly we always treat OUR loyal customers like gold. It’s the freebie points groups like this that ruin it for all

  26. I’d bet a kidney AND a lung that some years from now, a Harvard Business Review case study is done about this merger. And MBA students across the country will learn about this complete fuster cluck of a merger.

  27. @bfjdj Actually, Lucky is correct. Cancelation is chiefly American English and Cancellation is chiefly British English. Either way is fine and correct.

  28. Can we all sign a petition?
    @lucky what can we all do? Im sure that if we all complain together they will actually notice. Im super fed up with Marriott and points not posting, ridiculous resort fees, no availability on reward nights, etc!

  29. I cancelled an award stay using my annual free night with the Marriott Chase credit card. After waiting a few days, the award never resurfaced on my account. So I called and they said they had to “manually release it,” which he did. The award night then started showing again in my account.

    Manually release it??? Every other chain just has the award night (or the points) returned to the account. So beware, cancelling doesn’t send your award back to your account without making the followup phone call to request it be reinstated. Absolutely crazy.

  30. I recently spent one night at a budget JW Marriott in Shenzhen. I left a factual and scathing review. Guess whose review didn’t get published on the main site?

  31. I wonder if expectations differ, there is a big variety in experiences, or this is mainly US phenomena.
    I will say there are more outages on the app than there was before, but I would not exactly call it stable pre merger either.
    From an overall perspective, it has been business as usual for me. Stays have posted normally, bookings and cancellations have shown no problems, and my recognition at hotels as PP and now Titanium has been excellent. Marriott has been gaining business from me, as I was not really staying at SPG properties before the merger (long story) but as this now means I have Bonvoy hotels in more business travel destinations with SPG added, I have started selecting them.
    Add to that, as I have been living in countries without a credit card option, I was slowly ticking towards life time silver, but with the new rules I should hit lifetime platinum this year. Just missing about 40 nights.

  32. @Jesper Want to let me know your secret for getting stays credited this past month? I have had ONE stay credited out of 7 in the past month credited without my having to call.

  33. It seems to me that you seemingly seem to use the word “seem” too much.
    Just be declarative! 🙂

  34. @Stuart I don’t have a trick, I book private stays on the app and busines travel through our corporate TA. I have had a mix of legacy SPG and legacy Marriott properties, so it is not just “the one side” that I have stayed at.
    I don’t dispute the reported problems, I am just saying so far I am a very happy camper.

  35. @Jesper. Mine have also been mixed. W, Westin, Marriott, SLH, and Ritz. All required the last month a call to get them credited. As the Bonvoy agent said, “my entire job the past month is crediting stays. IT is aware but it seems low on their priority.”

  36. I booked a stay at the W Goa with points over New Year’s Eve and somehow missed the 24hour cancellation policy buried in the confirmation page. Apparently I had only 24 hours to cancel or else I was going to be charged the full cash equivalent. What’s the full cash equivalent you ask? Who knows since it was never stated at any point. I called the hotel directly and they didn’t know the cancellation policy. The hotel itself didn’t know it’s own policy…
    I called the platinum desk and they also didn’t know but said they would get back to me. They sent me an email the next day saying the hotel was non cancelable and sorry but I would be charged the full cash price if I wanted to cancel. I threatened litigation since at no point in the booking process was a cash price ever stated for me to agree to pay in lieu of points if I chose to cancel. They finally relented and canceled it. What a waste of time and energy. I now officially am going over to hilton

  37. I have been so confused by these. The garbage English that exists for ‘policies’ in airline and hotel is an example where regulation should step in to mandate that humans can understand the meaning.

  38. Yes something can be done. If stock analysts, industry analysts take such feedback from guests as above, (Many good ideas from everyone), and Marriott fails Wall Street, we can be sure Arne gets the heat from analyst and fund managers holding Marriott stock.

    The cancellation is an oxymoron. You can’t cancel but you can.

    Hopefully they get it staightened out, because the other companies are not always pleasing either. Is anyone watching how Chris Nasseta operates? Hilton was a very friendly company, make a call and someone would really be helpful. Its not the same now, sometimes being lucky to get a good responsive person on the line.

    The squeeze is on, but raised voices can make a difference.

  39. I recently cancelled my hotel stay and the hotels General Manager states that you must cancel your stay by 3:59pm (48 hours prior to check-in) though the bonvoy website states that cancellation must take place by 11:59pm two days prior (meaning if you stay on the 10th you cancel by 11:59pm on the 8th). They are refusing to refund my money as a result and corporate is useless and ultimately cannot and will not assist.

    First and last booking – I will stick with Hilton

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