It’s Not the Crime it’s the Coverup: Wyndham Rewards Changes Offer Details, Not Wanting to Offer 16,000 Bonus Point Promo

On Wednesday I wrote about a Wyndham Rewards offer that allowed members to earn 16,000 bonus points per stay at several new Wyndham hotels. That’s especially attractive because there are several inexpensive new hotels, where the bonus points are worth well more than the cost of the rooms (either to redeem for other hotels, or to transfer to airline miles).

And since Wyndham Rewards permits points earning even when members don’t show up for the stay (if you pay for the room, you earn points for it), it was convenient for plenty of people to make reservations without actually having to check-in.

Wyndham made a similar offer earlier on that was targeted, the rules said you had to receive an email invitation in order to participate although it seemed as though most folks subscribed to receive emails to their Wyndham Rewards accounts were receiving that email.

This time, the promotion said all you had to be was a Wyndham Rewards member and book a stay at one of the new properties during the promotion period.

Yesterday Wyndham declared that they meant for the promotion to be targeted for people who received a direct mail piece. And they weren’t going to honor it for people who didn’t receive the marketing mailing.

Of course plenty of people were already induced by Wyndham’s offer to make prepaid, non-refundable reservations — and in full compliance with the published rules of that offer.

Some people were being told over the phone that they would receive the points, that Wyndham meant to target the offer but since they messed that up the promotion would be honored. Some of those people were having their accounts notated to that affect.

Today Wyndham has gone in and changed the language of their offer. In the description of the promotion, at the top of the offer page, they have added:

Only members who received the direct mail invitation are eligible for this offer.

Here’s a shot of the top of the offer page from yesterday, October 18th:

And here’s the current offer page, today, with new language.

Oddly enough, they can’t even do a coverup properly to make the offer look as though it’s always been targeted.

Because the terms and conditions at the bottom of the offer page still haven’t been changed.

And they remain quite clear that the offer isn’t targeted.

To qualify for the “16,000 bonus Points” promotion (the “Promotion”) and earn 16,000 Wyndham Rewards® points, the member must (i) be an active member (ii) book a stay at any of the 20 participating properties at a qualifying rate between 9/12/12 and 12/31/12 and complete their hotel stays by 1/3/13 (the “Promotion Period”). Members will receive 16,000 Wyndham Rewards points for up to three stays within the Promotion Period at any of the 20 properties regardless of the number of rooms booked.

The terms and conditions still say anyone with a Wyndham Rewards account, whose account is not inactive, will receive the bonus as long as they stay at one of the included properties during the promotion period.

This one’s getting bungled worse than the Watergate break-in. Which is why I still have to believe that everyone who participated in the offer prior to the change in promotion description will have their bonus points honored. Or at an absolute minimium anyone who incurred costs in reliance on the clear language posted on Wyndham’s website will have to be refunded.

It’s just a matter of time for this to get sorted out.

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. This is ridiculous- Will never book with Wyndham again. Instead of trying to be sneaky and changing half the T&C, why can’t a company of Wyndhams caliber publish a proper response.

  2. Gary, thanks for keeping up the pressure. I believe extensive publicity will have an important effect on the outcome, whether favorably resolved by Wyndham or by the credit card company or small claims court.

  3. It is kind of funny that they added the new restriction at at the top after the “added benefit” since it could be interpreted as only applying to that benefit. That said, I don’t think they are trying to cover anything up, nor would I go so far as to call it a crime. They screwed up and should make it right, by either refunding prepaid no-shows or honoring the original terms for those who booked before the changes were added.

  4. What did I miss? Was there a merger between Jetsetter, Wyndham and Cartera? Or did they all independently decide to be sneaky and double dealing?

  5. I have a reservation today somewhere in Kansas (it was a cheap enough deal). Wonder what will happen?

    Keep the pressure on so I can get my points Gary.

  6. Gary, yep, I saw the humor, but it isn’t likely to win points from Wyndham. I’ve seen reports of folks contacting them and “supervisors” becoming very unprofessional. Clearly they are frustrated, not that it should be an excuse for them.

  7. Following the story with interest since I have three non-refundable reservations. I’ve contacted them to see what they want to do about the situation. Will be disputing the charges with the credit card company if they don’t do the right thing. If that doesn’t work? Small claims? Or maybe a class action lawsuit? I’ve been involved in a few of those and doubt I’d make much, but would be happy to participate just to take the money out of their hide if they can’t live up to their own promises.

  8. @UA-NYC…actually they have an AWESOME property in Kauai!! We stayed there last year with points I purchased through the Daily Getaway! We originally booked 2 nights but were so impressed we actually cancelled a night at the Grand Hyatt and paid to stay one more night at Koloa Landing. I was willing to give their other properties a try in order to earn more points for a return to Koloa Landing next year..but we have decided just to pay for the room now with cash and keep our business at another hotel chain..

  9. Don’t have a dog in this hunt (I was just about to do the promo when it blew up).

    If Wyndham doesn’t take care of those it hung out to dry, I certainly will not participate in any future promo – out of mistrust (fool me once).

    I think this is a big negative for them. I’m not a fan of many of their hotels in the locations I frequent, but promos help draw my business. If this turns into a “lose/ lose”, Wyndham will lose more exponentially. It’s not only those directly affected who are watching this closely. They ever hear of the internet? They say it’s this place with blogs & things called message boards where you can tear your brand into pieces in a day, after investing years and millions of $ trying to build loyalty.

  10. @joe – I’m with you, I was just about to jump in when it went kaput. And am glad I didn’t. Wyndham doesn’t have a lot of properties that pique my interest and I was also interested to perhaps give them a try with some actual stay needs. This certainly sours me on them – not that they’re the only loyalty program to have botched up a deal like this. But with so many other higher caliber hotel properties to choose from, why go with Wyndham if they can t even manage a simple promo?

  11. Has anyone actually received the direct mail offer, or is it a phantom? Good question. When I ask when it was mailed out I get lots of different answers. I was told last month and then I was told it just went out.

  12. @BenjaminN & @Glenn

    I booked a non-refundable stay in Denver for 10/19/12. No charge to my credit card, not even a pre-authorization. I expect this will be the case for other no-shows at the promotion eligible properties.

  13. I think this was very foreseeable as one person posted yesterday. The one with the flame retardant suite 🙂

    As blogs get wider any unintended open angles in promotions will be backed out of as a massive number of people pile onto them. Its simple Economics. This isn’t like an airline flight where they may not sell the seat anyways so the impact might be closer to my weight in fuel costs carrying me somewhere.

    In this case people would transfer these to miles and thus Wyndham paying real money out…. Its just very unlikely.

    Like United backing out of the spend $1k on your cc and get 5k miles. They modified the T&Cs and I’m personally one who actually made that spends for Amazon gift cards just to get the extra bonus.

    With blogs getting wider audiences what we grew accustomed to as early frequent travelers being honored won’t be as much any longer.

    Gary – you often look at it as strenght in numbers but I think that only goes so far. In some cases that has worked out but I fear it will be less and less. As they test the bounds of reputation vs immediate financial impacts modifications of T&Cs could very likely become the norm.

    Thinking back to a movie of “where’s my two dollars” I ask myself where is my 5K United miles for that dang Credit Card Promotion …… I even thought there were laws on that when connected to banking … Wait – (putting flame suite on) – not once Romney is elected.

  14. @ Eli: Its a business… they will focus on bottom line. It doesn’t matter what is just or right. Look at all the subprime scandals. Many regular employees just went along selling obvious crap. Executives looked the other way. Enron manipulated at a grand scale. Companies do what is best for their bottom line and crap floats to the top. Look at SPG walking people with little compensation but then making you pay rack rate if you want to cancel within ‘their deadline’. They certainly don’t have a fair policy either… Its to maximize profit on thier side.

  15. Gary – I have a tremendous amount of respect for you…

    But can you see how if this wasn’t blogged widely that the people spending time on FT might have been able to utilize this much longer. Companies have loop holes in many promotions and they can last quite a while until the economic impact becomes too large and it requires them to make the internal resource, IT, and public reputation impact to cut it off.

  16. @Ck – In this case it seems quite the contrary — Wyndham didn’t decide this was targeted because I blogged it, they intended it to be targeted and would have pushed back on honoring it regardless. My bet is the extra attention will lead to its being honored.

    Not saying what you describe doesn’t happen, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on in this case.

  17. I think I may have gotten such a piece of junk mail recently but I can’t remember for 100% so now I’m forced to either call them to confirm my three business related reservations OR just cancel them and move on. I knew I shouldn’t trust Wyndham.

  18. @ Gary, fair enough. I see both sides on this one. I’m not sure if I beleive their retroactive statement of meant to be targeted though 🙂

    Even if true, what could have occured on this one is the ‘loophole’ that allowed people not targeted to do it could have lived on. Many loop holes don’t get closed until the economic impact to the company gets above their radar and merits them to put their IT groups on a fix. Hyatt Priceline glitch, WN using credit for other peoples names, Priority club old style mile awards where you could redeem for a ticket which they deposited 25k miles at a better value than a direct mile transfer, Citi 90 day CC churn, and many more. Once the attention and impact becomes too large they will invest what it takes to stop the unintended financial impact.

    Its a hard balance to make. Without people sharing on FT over the years many of us including myself wouldn’t have benefitted like we have… with over 10M points/miles 🙂 Blogs are a natural progression of that sharing that I’ve also benefitted from earlier on.

  19. @UdiA – same here but I wouldn’t have expected my 16k yet anyway — and I think it’ll take continue pushback on Wyndham for that.

  20. Gary, thank you for standing up for fair dealings when people rely on others promises. Wyndham really made me believe that they would pay the points just like their previous promotion. I’ve already written 3 different emails to Wyndham VPs in their communications departments and marketing departments, as well as a missing points form on their awards page. As a data point, I had a check-in on 10/19 but no points posted for me (two more check-ins coming up this week).

  21. Scratch that. Charges posted for my no-show in Denver. At least I took screenshots of the TOC.

  22. My Omaha stay (10.18-10.19) posted this morning, with no 16K bonus. Guess it’s time to start calling Wyndham. Sigh.

  23. Even if the stay posted the 16K do not post right away. They say to allow up to 8 weeks. The last time the promo ran people were getting them in 3+ weeks on the average. If you call right away don’t you think they will tell you NO and then note your account saying you were informed you wouldn’t get them? Wouldn’t it be better to wait 8 weeks???

  24. just an update, the weasels at wyndham tell people on flyertalk to PM them. their response is that the 16k bonus is targeted, but we “may” be able to cancel your reservation.

  25. They are trying to get it to fly! As I just posted on FT…after a conversation I had with an ops mgr they are looking at each customer on a case by case basis. I think they are going to deny the points to anyone who just opened a Wyndham account and booked non-refundable rooms. They don’t care..if they tick that customer off then they figure they weren’t a customer anyway and just became one for the promotion.

  26. Wyndham asked people on Flyer Talk to send their member number and reservation info by PM and they would look on a case-by-case basis. Well, not only did they not respond, but they canceled my three reservations. Pretty unbelievable!

  27. Wyndham rep on FlyerTalk now claims they will post the points to maintain goodwill, at least in a private PM to me. They asked me to send them my folios once they post. I’ve put this info on FlyerTalk as well. We’ll see, but sounds encouraging. Sorry for the folks that gave up and cancelled if this turns out. I decided to stick it out.

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