Reader Tokyo Hyatt Fan emails me to argue that changes to Hyatt’s loyalty program going into effect March 1 violate the Gold Passport terms and conditions.
The implication is that since this is a(n adhesion) contract with members, it’s a contract violation, and should be legally actionable.
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur Sky Check-in Lobby
Hyatt Gold Passport’s terms and conditions say,
The Hyatt Gold Passport program may continue until such time as Hyatt Gold Passport at its sole discretion elects to designate a program termination date. Hyatt Gold Passport has the right to end the Hyatt Gold Passport program by providing written notice to then Active Members six (6) months in advance.
Since the new “World of Hyatt” program launches March 1, Tokyo Hyatt Fan argues that we were given only 4 months’ notice of the ‘termination’ of the Gold Passport program.
You don’t have to be a lawyer to know the basics of contract law, as expressed in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome:
One Mile at a Time seems persuaded by this,
[I]t’s a bit surprising to see that Hyatt is violating their own terms with the introduction of the World of Hyatt program..
I get the frustration, I really do. Members who qualified for top tier Diamond status with only 25 stays and fewer than 50 nights will no longer be as rewarded through elite status — starting in March 2018 (since someone qualifying for status on 25 stays in 2016 will remain a top tier ‘Globalist’ with even better benefits through February 2018).
And Hyatt does call “World of Hyatt” a ‘new program’.
I don’t think this is a winning legal argument though.
- It’s not obvious to me that Hyatt is terminating its program. Everyone keeps their points, there are no changes in the redemption tiers of the program. My Hyatt points remain my Hyatt points.
- They are renaming the program and modifying elite benefits, but this doesn’t even materially affect the majority of members who are not elites. As long as everyone keeps their points, and those points are roughly worth the same, that’s a pretty good indication that the program hasn’t been terminated — a marketing rebrand notwithstanding.
- Those same terms also say, “Hyatt Gold Passport may change the program rules, conditions, benefits, or awards pertaining to the program at any time without notice.”
- There are absolutely no damages even for elites, because even those folks with just 25 stays and 25 nights in 2016 will be ‘Globalist’ members through February 2018 — with net net better benefits (more upgrades and more personalized service). So they don’t see a material dimunition of benefits for 14 months.
Park Hyatt Sydney
Hyatt may call this a ‘new program’, we have plenty of notice before any elites really see fewer benefits, Hyatt can change benefits without notice, and the points program is not ending we can still use our points and the core of the message is that doesn’t even change at all. Terminating a program means ending it, not changing it.
Let’s pretend for amoment though that we could force Hyatt to wait until January 2018 to start the new program. What would the practical effect be? Nothing, other than to put off the new Globalist benefits that requalified Diamonds will otherwise get to enjoy starting in March.
I wouldn’t mind an extra 10 months of Diamond check-in amenities, but ending those just is not a program termination. And wishing Hyatt kept rewarding 25 stay Diamonds doesn’t make it so.