Wyndham Rewards Changed Promotion Rules on Its Members Without Notice — Again?

You might recall the terms of a recent promotion in which you could earn up to 15,000 bonus Wyndham Rewards points for up to three stays — in addition to the Wyndham Rewards points you would typically earn — when you book your reservations by Wednesday, January 31, 2018 using Visa Checkout; and you must complete your qualified stays by Wednesday, February 28, 2018 to earn:

  • 3,000 bonus Wyndham Rewards points for your first stay; plus
  • 5,000 Wyndham Rewards bonus points for your second stay; plus
  • 7,000 Wyndham Rewards bonus points for your third stay

Wyndham Rewards Changed Promotion Rules on Its Members Without Notice — Again?

Well, the terms of that promotion have allegedly been changed, according to several members of FlyerTalk, as you are apparently out of luck if your booked your reservations after Thursday, January 18, 2018 — and members have reported not receiving any notification to any changes in the rules of the promotion.

FlyerTalk member eethan only found out about the amendment to the promotion from a supervisor of the frequent guest loyalty program. “I’m surprised how dishonest Wyndham is. Even though I still had issues to resolve, Christina asked me to hang up because ‘her ride was waiting to pick her up.’ That sounded like – I can’t help you anymore today, but if you’ll do me this favor, I’ll help you out tomorrow. We agreed she would call me back at noon because I told her I was busy earlier. The next day, she calls me an hour earlier then we agreed and leaves me a voicemail, saying that she was calling me at the time we agreed on. – With modern technology, how stupid do you think I am?”

When eethan called back “specifically asking for her — that’s what she instructed me to do in her voicemail. But then Christina refuses to answer my call. Instead she has some younger agent talk with me while she listens on the side and guides him. In the end, she refuses to help further even though I did her a favor to hang up so she could catch her carpool ride.”

“Really? They can just cancel a promotion early like that, without any notice? Unbelievable”, opined FlyerTalk member jrobinson5. “I stayed at a Days Inn on 1/26, which I chose solely because of the promotional bonus points. If I had known that the promotion had ended on 1/18, I would have cancelled and stayed at a nicer hotel. Seems like false advertising to me.”

FlyerTalk member synergistic posted, “Ouch, that explains why I didn’t get credit for my stays on 31 Jan and 1 Feb when I got the credit for an earlier night. Guess it’ll be more of a fight than I thought…”

Not the First Time Wyndham Rewards Changed Promotion Rules

Wyndham Rewards has had a history of blindsiding its members with seemingly arbitrary changes to its promotions with little or no notice.

Two examples are when the number of Wyndham Rewards frequent guest loyalty program points needed to convert to airline frequent flier loyalty program miles had doubled; and at least one hotel property was “upgraded” to a new redemption level known as Tier 9. Both perceived devaluations were implemented immediately within four days of each other — and with no notice, announcement or advance warning of any sort whatsoever.

Also with no advance notice or announcement, a redemption increase of almost 282 percent was reported in January of 2013 for the Wingate by Wyndham Manhattan Midtown located on West 35 Street in New York.

More recently, a bizarre promotion from Wyndham Rewards was cancelled before it even started, with which if you donate all of your Starpoints to charity, you will earn quadruple the amount of Wyndham Rewards points in return; and you would also receive a match to your current elite level status in the Starwood Preferred Guest program.

This current promotion from Wyndham Rewards gives you the opportunity to earn 15,000 bonus Wyndham Rewards points for two stays — in addition to the Wyndham Rewards points you would typically earn — when you register for this promotion prior to booking your reservations at greater than 8,000 participating hotel and resort properties worldwide by Saturday, June 30, 2018; and you must complete your qualified stays by Sunday, July 1, 2018.

After reading about the past history of some promotions, would you participate in it while remaining confident that the rules, terms and conditions of the promotion will be completely honored?

Summary

When I do business with a company, I trust that its employees will do what I need for them to do. It is one thing for the results of conducting business with a company to not be to my satisfaction due to extenuating circumstances or factors beyond the control of the employees of the company; it is significantly different if the reason was caused by deception, intentional fraud, or purposely being misled — which usually breeds mistrust. If I cannot trust a company or its employees, I do not patronize it. It is that simple.

There are no fewer than three rental car companies with whom I will no longer conduct business solely because I do not trust them. One of them refused to honor an advertised deal with no explanation despite my following and satisfying all of the terms and conditions of the contract, for example — and the result is the elimination of my trust in that company and its employees.

Trust is an implicit act on our part in everyday life. Many times in a single day, we automatically trust many things without even realizing it or stopping to think about it: that the bridge we drive over will not fall into the water below; that the cars we drive are not defective; that the commercial airplanes on which we fly as passengers are safe enough to transport us to our destination; and that the terminal of the airport will not collapse on us while we are waiting for our flights…

…and we trust that the frequent travel loyalty program miles and points which we earn will be valuable enough to redeem for an award which we will actually want. Otherwise, why would we even bother being members of them? Why would we go through the trouble of earning, tracking and redeeming frequent flier loyalty program miles and points; and what would be the point of earning elite level status if the benefits that were promised once that status was earned were suddenly eliminated without warning?

It is important to note that loyalty — a form of allegiance or support — does not automatically equate to trust; but speaking for myself, I certainly cannot be “loyal” to anyone or anything I do not trust. It is one thing to earn loyalty, in my opinion — but earning trust is completely different altogether. You can have trust without loyalty — but you cannot have loyalty without trust.

I would advise that those who administer frequent travel loyalty programs — the term perhaps a misnomer in and of itself — clearly know and understand the differences between loyalty and trust with regard to their members. If this poll is any indication, it could mean the difference between retaining and losing a customer…

…but you can bet on one thing for certain: no matter how good of a frequent guest loyalty program Wyndham Rewards might be to some people, I have not — and still do not — trust it enough to be interested in participating in it.

If what FlyerTalk members have been posting is indeed true, then shame on the members of the team at Wyndham Rewards for creating a potentially beneficial promotion for its members — only to change the rules without warning on unsuspecting and innocent people who simply followed the instructions of their promotion, even if the rules, terms and conditions of the promotion state that they can be changed at any time without warning. Wyndham Rewards may once again have a long way to go and a lot of work ahead to rectify this issue; save whatever “face” they can; and win back the trust of anyone who was betrayed and is willing to give them another chance.

Trust and authenticity is the key to loyalty for everyone; and as I personally believe that trust is a vital key component in conducting business in general, I intend to continue to write about trust and culture as related to the travel industry in future articles based on the topics presented at the seminars at the conference I attended — especially as I keep reading and hearing about frequent fliers whose trust in companies in the travel industry has either eroded or disappeared completely…

…and your experience with trust in the travel industry is always welcome. More importantly, your trust in what I write is critical to me — and I hope to have earned it in order for The Gate to be “the world’s most trusted ‘blog’.”

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

20 thoughts on “Wyndham Rewards Changed Promotion Rules on Its Members Without Notice — Again?”

  1. Frank says:

    I am staying at Wyndham Grand as a Diamond member and its all a mess. Seems like this company is run by teenagers.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      How is it “all a mess”, Frank? Could you please be more specific?

      I will bet that other readers of The Gate will want to know more details…

  2. DaveinDC says:

    Thank you for posting this! I had a stay booked for this Friday night that I made on 1/31, so I would have been very upset had I found out about this after! I just called Wyndham to confirm my reservation and they stated that it ended on 1/18 due to overwhelming demand. The operator offered 500 goodwill points and I asked for 7,000 since that’s what I’d get with the Visa Checkout promotion, but she laughed at that. Hard to believe demand was so overwhelming that they couldn’t continue it for another 13 days.

    Completely agree that there is no way I can trust Wyndham again!

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      …and thank you for further confirmation that the booking deadline was indeed shortened, DaveinDC. “Overwhelming demand”, eh?

      I truly was starting to believe that Wyndham Rewards was finally significantly improving as a frequent guest loyalty program — but what is the point if the program cannot be trusted?!?

  3. Carl P says:

    I’ll still do the next promotion. I haven’t been stung yet, unlike IHG and some other programs. In fact customer service actually made good on an offer when I might have actually goofed (Master Pass vs Visa whatever).

    I think any “loyalty” talk is irrelevant when talking about Wyndham. Most of the readers doing Wyndham promos stay there (or visit to look like a stay) only when there’s a promo. There is certainly no loyalty. This is especially true with any business travelers that can do Hyatt, and the like, and be OK on the expense report.

    I’m not staying what they did wasn’t wrong, but they’re not the only program to pull stuff. It just seems like with other programs we chalk it up to IT goofs rather than intention, and we complain, but then forgive.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Those are good points, Carl P.

      I know of no frequent traveler loyalty program which is immune to executing levels of perceived deception by its members — but in my opinion, Wyndham Rewards seems especially egregious. Perhaps no one should base their purchases solely on a promotion for an awards program; but what if someone books a reservation at a rate which cannot be refunded between January 19 and January 31 primarily because they thought that the promotion was still in effect? Are they simply out of luck through no fault of their own?

      Although I hope that it never happens to you, what would you do if you indeed were “stung”?

  4. Carl P says:

    I totally agree what they did was wrong. It just sometimes seems Wyndham is attacked with more of a vengeance than other programs. This perhaps because people feel Wyndham properties are beneath them (which is often true).

    If it happened I would go to customer service. If, unlike in the past, Wyndham customer service was unhelpful there wouldn’t be much to do other than decide whether not to deal with them in the future. Of course if I really stopped dealing with all violators my hotel choices would be very limited. As I said, we usually eventually forgive (but don’t forget).

    In the case of a non-refundable reservation I might feel free to threat disputing the CC charge since they changed the terms on me.

    Luckily I have a Super 8 in an area I go for business often that remodeled and is actually pretty nice. I don’t make it a habit of staying in unknown Wyndham properties. I would say the same of Choice brands lower than Comfort Inn.

    FYI. I would normally get flack for Hilton or Hyatt prices on my expense report, so I’m usually IHG or Choice. Once upon a time Club Carlson.

  5. David says:

    I hate wyndham, they are the worstQ

  6. David says:

    I hate wyndham, they are the worst!

  7. Mike L says:

    Seems like a very poorly run loyalty program. As you pointed out, they have done shady stuff multiple times now. You’d think they would look at replacing whoever is in charge of these promotions or at least hire a consultant who has industry experience. Also, the “Wyndham Wizard” is as tacky as can be…

  8. Ric Garrido says:

    This is a surprising turn of events regarding the Visa Checkout promotion. I never received my second bonus for a hotel stay the first week of January and I had not yet bothered to try and get the missing points credited. I am sure I will have my own article on this promotion after I learn how Wyndham Rewards handles my stay booked and stayed prior to Jan 18.

    I stated last week that I hate dealing with Wyndham Rewards customer service more than any other hotel loyalty program. I put off dealing with my missing Visa Checkout points due to the time involved dealing with Wyndham Rewards for issues in the past.

    However, I will provide a rebuttal for Wyndham to some of your arguments.

    The Gate
    “Not the First Time Wyndham Rewards Changed Promotion Rules
    Wyndham Rewards has had a history of blindsiding its members with seemingly arbitrary changes to its promotions with little or no notice.

    Two examples are when the number of Wyndham Rewards frequent guest loyalty program points needed to convert to airline frequent flier loyalty program miles had doubled; and at least one hotel property was “upgraded” to a new redemption level known as Tier 9. Both perceived devaluations were implemented immediately within four days of each other — and with no notice, announcement or advance warning of any sort whatsoever.”

    Loyalty Traveler – My rebuttal is airline frequent miles transfer rates and hotel category assignments are loyalty program features and not promotions.

    The reason for changing airline exchange rates is logical. Wyndham Rewards had the best exchange rate in the industry at 2.5 points = 1 mile when comparable programs like IHG, Best Western and Choice were 5 points = 1 mile.

    This was probably not an issue until the Daily Getaways sales started in 2011 and many bloggers promoted the purchase of Wyndham Rewards points as a cheap way to earn Southwest Airlines Companion Pass. Wyndham Rewards changed their exchange rates in Feb 2014 prior to the launch of the fourth annual Daily Getaways.

    Hyatt changed hotel category assignments two months ago without advance warning, except for notifying a very select few bloggers the day before the changes.

    The Gate
    “Also with no advance notice or announcement, a redemption increase of almost 282 percent was reported in January of 2013 for the Wingate by Wyndham Manhattan Midtown located on West 35 Street in New York.”

    Loyalty Traveler – Wyndham Rewards went through a couple of turbulent years with numerous category changes and hotel reward points changes in their hotel reward redemption category assignments before settling on the current system in 2015 of GoFast and GoFree Rewards.

    I had about 100,000 points sitting in my account unused and only a couple of Wyndham stays over several years before Wyndham Rewards changed their program in 2015. I have never booked a 15,000 points GoFree rate since they were introduced. I have saved thousands of dollars on hotel rates in the past five years redeeming Wyndham Rewards GoFast reward nights for 3,000 points + copay ranging from $23 to $75 per night.

    The point people miss about Wyndham Rewards, Choice Privileges and Best Western Rewards is each of these programs have some hotels where higher category rooms are offered for standard report rates. I have booked full suites at standard reward rates in each of these programs.

    I am writing this comment from a Wyndham Rewards hotel where my 3,000 points saved $100 per night off the room rate.

    While Wyndham has more than 8,000 properties, my attention is focused on about 30 hotels where I know I can get the best hotel rate deal for these cities and stay in a decent hotel at a significant savings compared to comparable hotels in these cities.

    I don’t view Wyndham Rewards as a loyalty program to take me around the world. But it sure was a deal for the Ramada Vilnius, a boutique luxury hotel in the center of Old Town. To give a sense of the hotel style, the waitresses wore white gloves when serving coffee at the breakfast buffet.
    The hotel is around the corner from Radisson Blu Vilnius and was a much lower rate of 3,000 points + 62EUR. I was disappointed to see that property go independent last year.

    The Gate – More recently, a bizarre promotion from Wyndham Rewards was cancelled before it even started, with which if you donate all of your Starpoints to charity, you will earn quadruple the amount of Wyndham Rewards points in return; and you would also receive a match to your current elite level status in the Starwood Preferred Guest program.

    Loyalty Traveler – Another generous promotion that I was fully expecting to benefit from until it unexpectedly was withdrawn.

    I wonder if Wyndham Rewards had contracted a specific number of points from Visa that were all awarded to guests. The fact is Visa Checkout did not cost the guest anything other than the normal rate to book a Wyndham brand hotel and register with Visa Checkout to make the booking.

    This might also explain why Wyndham Rewards came out with such a generous follow-up promotion for 15,000 points after two stays.

    I will still be planning my stays for earning the next 15,000 Wyndham Rewards points. I earned about 24,000 Wyndham Rewards points in 2017 from 5 paid hotel nights (not including the Visa Checkout points I am still waiting for from 2018 stays) and I redeemed 39,000 points in 2017 for hotel room rate savings of about $1,400.

    Wyndham Rewards won’t get my vote for best hotel loyalty program, but there are some great hotel deals to be found at some select hotels.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Thank you for providing excellent information as always in your responses and rebuttals, Ric Garrido. Here are some of my thoughts.

      First, you are correct when you say that “airline frequent miles transfer rates and hotel category assignments are loyalty program features and not promotions.” In my opinion, that is actually worse. Must the consumer be concerned about loyalty program features in addition to promotions? About what else with Wyndham Rewards — or Wyndham itself — should he or she be concerned, if anything?

      Second, when “Hyatt changed hotel category assignments two months ago without advance warning, except for notifying a very select few bloggers the day before the changes”, at least the customers who reserved a room with the former redemption rates were not affected; and members who attempted to redeem World of Hyatt points under the new redemption rates were at least informed — and probably surprised — during the booking process before committing to it. Neither World of Hyatt nor any other frequent traveler loyalty program gets a pass from me when they attempt to implement changes to their policies which members and customers perceive as spurious and deceptive at best; but in this particular case with Wyndham Rewards, some customers booked reservations — and spent money if they were booked in advance at a non-refundable rate — after January 18, thinking and believing that they were qualifying for a promotion. Apparently, some of them — just trying to be conservative here — were not even informed of the change of that specific term of the promotion. I find that far more egregious, inexcusable and unacceptable than announcing category changes without advance notice — unless customers who purchased those reservations in advance with non-refundable rates under the pretense that they were qualifying for a promotion will be honored with an exception from Wyndham Rewards and receive a refund upon request. Will Wyndham Rewards do that? After all, the unannounced change in the booking deadline of the promotion was not their fault.

      I am not denying that every loyalty program has some sweet spot; and I am glad that you were able to take advantage of the sweet spots of Wyndham Rewards and save thousands of dollars — and impart your knowledge to your readers. The point with this article is can the Wyndham Rewards program — and sure, other frequent travel loyalty programs as well — be trusted enough in the future to rely on ensuring that members and customers receive what the program wants for them to believe that they will earn?

      I truly and sincerely hope that you do not encounter any problems or issues whatsoever with what you have already earned but not yet received — but if you do, will your mind change at all about Wyndham Rewards in the future?

      For a while, I did not report on Wyndham Rewards promotions at The Gate — but when I saw that the program was improving significantly, I started to do so again and was thinking that it was an earnest effort. Apparently, that is not the case — and I prefer to be proven wrong.

      I look forward to reading your upcoming article — and I encourage you to please provide a link to it here when you write it and post it.

  9. kalvydas says:

    why is your summary longer than an article?

  10. Forest says:

    I did not receive my visa checkout bonus. I did however receive the 15,000 points credited to my account today. I booked all stays on 1/31/18 and completed the last stay February 24th and they gave me the bonus based upon the current two stay bonus apparently. So in the end I received the points, just now will not get both bonuses.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *