Did You Get Caught When Wyndham Pulled Today’s Major Promotion? They May Still Make It Good

Wyndham had a crazy day, opening with a really amazing offer that members could redeem all of their Starwood points for charitable donations, and receive 4 Wyndham Rewards points per Starwood point for doing it — plus a status match through 2017.

I wasn’t going to take advantage of it. 4 Wyndham points are worth more than a Starpoint, in fact they might be worth twice as much. But they aren’t great for transfers to airline miles, and I prefer higher-end redemptions than Wyndham offers (though they do have some very nice hotels in their portfolio).

They pulled the promotion before it even officially started. My biggest concern — other than that they kind of looked like the gang who couldn’t shoot straight — was that people might have already started redeeming their Starwood points for charitable donations and would wind up with nothing from Wyndham to show for it.

I spoke to the Wyndham folks about this and they’ve assured me that anyone who thinks they met the terms of the promotion should reach out individually and Wyndham will work something out.

We know some had the best intentions, and we want to reward them with what they’ve earned. Anyone who believes they’ve met all of the terms & conditions may reach out to us at wyndhamrewards.fulfillment@wyn.com and we will arrange a time to contact them for additional verification.

Apparently folks had already submitted claims for the promotion before it had even started. And many of those were clearly fraudulent. You can imagine, claims of 10 million Starpoints redeemed for charity (out of accounts that likely had very few points). This was entirely foreseeable.

  • That’s why you need more than just a simple screen shot or two. Increase the pages that need to provided, it’s more work for whomever is going to try to edit .pdfs.

  • When a service pops up to do the faking for members, they need to hire the service themselves, discover who is offering it. Then their lawyers act to get the service to give up their clients.

  • And they cap their liability at a certain number of points as a reward. Or require some stay activity.

That doesn’t eliminate fraud, but it helps to limit it and therefore the exposure associated with the promotion.

Fraud is an issue. In fact, programs that are normally competitors have been known to work together to combat it. Six or seven years ago Hyatt and Starwood had a relationship where they would verify each others’ status match requests. You wouldn’t expect each chain to help their competitors poach elite customers. But they were willing to so they could both root out fraudulent match requests.

There was clearly no malice with the offer from Wyndham, it wasn’t particularly well thought-through, and as long as they make good with anyone who relied on the offer to redeem their Starpoints then we can probably chalk it up to lessons learned.

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. Asking for screenshots of more pages doesn’t necessarily work. Anyone who knows how to use developer tools in browsers and knows *very* basic HTML can modify the data on a page before they screenshot it.

  2. No malice from Wyndham? They lied to every member and potential member with this offer. Any fool can sort out fraudulent entries and honor the real ones without making millions of us mad and never want to step foot in a Wyndham hotel again.

  3. While Wyndham f****d this up completely, what were people thinking when they transferred points before the promo even formally began? Part of me feels that they do not deserve to be fixed by Wyndham.

  4. DaveinDC – Please educate us as to how “any fool can sort out fraudulent entries”, since you can’t trust screen shots and SPG is certainly not going to confirm anything.

  5. I don’t blame Wyndham, except for going public with something that hadn’t been fully thought out. I blame the fraudsters who can’t simply take a nice promotion and let it be, but need to cheat and lie their way to unearned riches, spoiling the opportunity for all.

  6. I donated my SPG points and sent Wyndham verification email at 11:14AM yesterday. In my haste, didn’t realize the program started at noon (I thought it ended at noon) and had already been withdrawn. I was VERY pleased to receive email from Wyndham Rewards last night that they had quadrupled the SPG points I donated, so everything worked out fine.

  7. Simple solution would have been to require the login information for the SPG account so someone on Wyndham’s end could just login to the SPG account and verify it through recent transactions. But I said this when the promo started… I don’t think they targeted the right hotel chain. SPG and Wyndham are really at both ends of the class of product scale. SPG has brands like St. Regis, Westin and Sheraton and Wyndham has brands like Super 8, Travelodge, Howard Johnson, Etc. I very much doubt they can convert many people accustomed to staying at Westin or Sheraton and get them to start staying at Day’s Inn.

  8. After one more email to Wyndham, my points and Diamond status is now honored! Not bad for 500 SPG points:-)

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