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 email@example.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.