Priority Club’s Annoying Habit of Improperly Denying Points Credit for Stays

One Mile at a Time had to fight for his Priority Club points to post from a recent stay at the InterContinental Grand Stanford in Hong Kong.

Priority Club initially refused to credit the points, which didn’t post on their own, even though the booking was made on their own website. They explained,

Unfortunately, the room rate paid during the stay in question was deeply discounted and is ineligible for credit to your account. We have provided the link for Priority Club Rewards’ Terms and Conditions below:

They also explained that eligible in-hotel spend might earn points, and encouraged Lucky to send his bill in ordetr to credit those points.

However, if you have incurred other charges during your stay , you may forward your itemized invoice to us in JPEG or PDF format so we may credit them accordingly to your account. Qualifying charges include food and beverage, phone, laundry, and Pay-per-View movies.

Now, let’s take this second part first. What points, exactly, were they going to post for non-room rate charges during a stay at an Intercontinental property? Intercontinental stays earn a fixed number of points, irrespective of the length of the stay or the rate paid. Food and beverage charges do not earn incremental points.

That’s one clue that Priority Club’s reps do not know what they’re talking about.

But it gets worse. The basis on which they deny points, directing customers to their terms and conditions, is not even supported by those terms and conditions. While Priority Club offers up this ‘no points on deeply discounted stays’ things from time to time, and usually flags “30% off usual rates” as their threshold, this actually is not supported by the program rules.

Not only should one obviously be able to rely on bookings made on the Priority Club website, especially when the website doesn’t flag otherwise (and frequently offers rates that earn bonus points for more money but potentially below the threshold Priority Club would otherwise apply for points earning), but the terms and conditions support the notion that bookings made through the website and Intercontinental’s Central Reservations qualify for points:

Points will be awarded for Qualifying Room Rates booked through IHG central reservation offices, IHG web sites, travel agents or directly at the hotel.

Now, there is a caveat about what rates qualify. But nowhere doess it specify that rates which are ‘too low’ do not, as long as they’re booked through a qualifying booking channel.

Qualifying Room Rates paid for hotel room nights: non-discounted rate, standard corporate rate, worldwide sales negotiated rate, national/regional/local government rate and specified leisure rates as confirmed by IHG’s HOLIDEX® Plus reservation systems.

Corporate rates, negotiated rates, government rates, leisure rates… these qualify for points.  And if there are rates that do not then these need to be disclosed (in the terms and conditions explicitly, or at least very clearly when making  a booking).

So where does the caveat come in about a specific level of discount forfeiting points? The terms and conditions do include one such exclusion — and the usual exclusion Priority Club cites when denying points is 30% below standard rates — but that exclusion only applies in a very limited circumstance:

In addition, in North, South and Central America and the Caribbean, points may be collected on locally negotiated rates if these rates are discounted less than 30%. At Asia Pacific hotels, Qualifying Room Rates also include all locally negotiated rates.

Only ‘locally negotiated rates’ (in contrast to rates booked on the Priority Club website!) exclude points earning if the rate is 30% below standard. That’s the only reference to a threshold at which specifici discounted rates do not earn points, anywhere in the terms and conditions.

Furthermore, the booking in question was for a hotel in Hong Kong — and the terms and conditions explicitly say that this 30% threshold does not apply to the Asia Pacific region! (Last time I checked, Hong Kong was in Asia.)

It would sure be nice if Priority Club would read its own terms & conditions.

That said, every time I’ve ever seen this happen, when a customer pushes back I’ve always seen Priority Club relent. But it’s annoying nonetheless.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. The hotel loyalty program can set whatever rules it wants, but they need to be transparent to the consumer.

    As hotel frequent guests we make our choices where to stay. The hotel consumer expects standard rules to be applied normally for all stays and any rate discount that does not offer loyalty points should be explicit at the time of reservation.

    Pushing back does become tiresome when I have to ask for what should be offered as a loyalty benefit.

  2. I work for a Holiday Inn Express and I am very familiar with the PC. I have to say this is news to me indeed. No rate is considered, “too low” as far as we have been told and witnessed. In fact, even our employee rate rooms, considerably less than 30% off rack rate, get credited points, as I have noticed first hand.

    The only “rates” that do not get points, and they are not even rates but the rate code that room was booked with, are third party reservations. Like Hotwire, Travelocity, Orbitz, and Expedia. That is because the guest pays the third party, then they pay us, and Priority Club has made those rate codes so they do not get points credited to them.

    Taxes, movies, phone calls, and the like DO NOT get points. Only the actual room rate so you are correct that they are mispoken. I have contacted Priority Club help desk at 1-877-275-7258 and mentioned this website to them. I hope that they will correct these issues.

    I would also encourage the man you speak of who did not get his points to contact the hotel directly and explain his displeasure at not getting his points. Any of the desk clerks can call the PC help line at any time and manually credit the points he’s out. The hotel would be more than glad to incur the fee this costs them to make a guest happy.

  3. I have also had similar experiences with Priority Club, and also Ambassador Club. However, I have found that the ‘help’ people often don’t bother opening attachments I send, strip them off the email and then claim to know nothing about the discrepancy. Although I think their program represents good value, their customer service is frustrating beyond belief.

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