I would like to share a brief synopsis of the shockingly outrageous experience my wife and I had on our first anniversary, which turned into a never-ending nightmare that has only grown worse and more frustrating each time we’ve reached out to Marriott for help. Our full story would have taken at least 10 pages to explain, so instead, we’re going to share the highlights:
To start out the day of our anniversary (May 24th), which we were celebrating in Grand Cayman, my wife and I went on a jet ski tour. This 2-hour tour turned into a 5-hour tour from hell. Key highlights include: getting stranded out in the middle of the ocean, 4 of the 5 jet skis breaking down, and being told that our jet ski was sinking! By sure grace we miraculously managed to make it back to land where we joked about this anniversary being one that we’d always remembered. Little did we know that our tour was the least bit of our worries. When we got back to our car, I pulled out my phone to check the time. But, instead of the time, all I could see on my iPhone's display was the dreaded "white screen of death" - yes, it's a real thing. Next, my wife pulled out her phone to make sure it wasn’t compromised as well. I guess the universe didn’t like us because yes, hers was broken too. A few days later, the nice woman that helped us at the Apple store had no explanation as for why they had both stopped working: no water damage, no physical damage, no extreme temperature signs, nada. She said she had never seen or heard of such a thing.
After the tour, we managed to make it back to the non-Marriott affiliated resort we were staying at, after making a quick stop to load up on aloe vera. Being stranded on the open sea wasn’t just nerve racking, it turned out to be extremely painful. The supposed 4-star resort we’d been staying at for the first 5 days of our trip had already moved us once due to our first room being dirty as well as unsafe. Upon returning that day, we opened the door to our new room and were pleasantly surprised to see that the room seemed cleaner and newly remodeled. Finally, the day seemed to be getting better. That was, until we were sitting on the couch lathered in aloe vera and cockroaches started appearing.
In a desperate search for a new hotel (without cell phones or internet), we pulled out the yellow pages that was in our room. When we saw Marriott’s name listed, we couldn’t have been happier! Believing that they would live up to their name and “core values”, we confided in Marriott in our greatest time of need to save our anniversary and trip. This was the worst mistake we could have ever made. Our trip would have been ten times better if we would have stayed at our disgusting, unsafe, cockroach infested resort which we had already paid for. When we called the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort directly (from our room phone) it was around 8:20 pm EST. I briefly explained to the receptionist our situation and asked if there were any rooms available for the next two nights. She confirmed the availability and quoted me the rate of $199.00 per night for both nights. This sounded reasonable, so, I asked to reserve/pay for the room that moment over the phone. Her response was that she could not reserve the room over the phone, and that we would have to come to the hotel to make the reservation at the front desk. This seemed odd, but in desperation, we decided to check out of our resort and drive 45 minutes to the Marriott.
Upon arriving at the Marriott at around 10:30 pm, hotel-less and with all our luggage, the woman at the front desk told us that the $199 rate was not available, and instead was $408 per night. More than double what we were quoted! We would have never checked out of our pre-paid resort to pay $408 per night. I explained once again our story as well as the phone interaction I had two hours earlier with the hotel. She said there was nothing she could do without a single ounce of sympathy. I asked if I could speak to the manager in hopes that as a manager, she would live up to Marriott’s core value of “We Act with Integrity” which states: “we hold ourselves to uncompromising ethical and legal standards. This extends to our day-to-day business conduct…”. Once again, we were sadly disappointed. We gave Marriott the chance to save the day, our anniversary, and trip, but what we got in return was consumer fraud, disrespect, and unsympathetic customer service.
The night manager (name withheld), confirmed that the woman with whom I spoke with was “under the impression” that we were locals, and therefore quoted us the local rate of $199. This seemed like it could have been an honest mistake, however, I had explained over the phone our story and that we were wanting to check out of the resort we were currently staying at. On top of that, not once did the receptionist ask me where we were from/if we were locals. The manager again told us there was nothing she could do. In a final attempt to somehow lower the outrageous difference in rate, I asked if there was a AAA rate available. The manager went into the back office and returned about 5 minutes later to tell us the AAA rate was the same, $408. Hotel-less with all our luggage, exhausted, in pain, and without phones we had nowhere else to go – we had to comply with Marriott’s deceptive tactics and unprofessionalism. The manager did however offer to waive the resort fee of $60 per day and therefore did not have me initial the authorization line related to the resort fee on the folio.
Once we were in our room (another hassle as our room keys did not work and we had to go back down to get new ones), I called my mother to explain what had happened. As a travel agent of 30 years, she had never heard of such a thing (especially from a Marriott). The next morning, my mother informed us that she had called Marriott reservations who told her that they had no idea why the hotel misquoted the AAA rate as $408, as the true AAA rate was about $100 per night cheaper”! Misquoted and scammed again, this time by the manager. If this doesn’t seem like an “unfair or deceptive act or practice” according to 15 U.S.C § 52 (2012) I don’t know what is. But wait, it gets worse.
Many other things happened while staying at this property, however, this letter is already longer than I planned. On Sunday morning we found our folio under the door. We noticed that the resort fee ($60/day) was not waived as promised. When we checked out, we notified another manager of the incorrect charges and he took the $120 off our bill. At this moment, I’d never been so glad to check out of a hotel in my life.
On May 26th, the total charge of $813.31 posted to my credit card statement. The next day, another charge of $60 posted as well. Why I was charged for one day’s resort fee when it was never authorized is beyond my comprehension. Does this demonstrate yet another core value: “Our dedication to the customer shows in everything we do.”?
The worst part about this entire situation is the experience which we’ve had with Marriott’s “customer service”. I have never been treated so poorly. I have worked in the customer service and hospitality industry and I would want to know if my employees were treating customers the way we were treated by Marriott. We first contacted Marriott customer service on June 1st. We were promised that we would hear back about our case within 3-5 business days. We called again after 7 business days of silence to find out that our case had been “closed and resolved” without our knowledge. The resolution was listed as “hotel management to contact the customer”. I’m still confused on how a case can be “closed and resolved” if the resolution never occurred. Also, this is yet again another piece of evidence which seems to confirm our suspicion of fraud - the hotel said they would contact us and never did.
Again, this is getting way too long so I will make a short list of a few other shocking experiences we’ve had with Marriott Customer service thus far:
- A total time of 6.5 hours on the phone to no avail and which provided us with more confusion and frustration.
- Senior Associate Supervisor (name withheld) who we have an audio recording of blatantly lying to me, and not showing an ounce of customer service let alone common human decency. For instance, when I kindly stated: “I do not feel heard as a customer” she lashed back with: “Okay, that’s fine. I am a supervisor”. I’m so glad I recorded the call.
- Filing a case (with another supervisor) to pull the call I had with the above-mentioned supervisor. I was put on hold for 50 minutes only to be ghosted (phone rang as if I was being transferred and then abruptly disconnected). Corruption amongst supervisors, looking out for and silencing any complaints against one another?
- Call with (name withheld) upon contacting corporate, with whom after explaining our entire story also put me on hold to then ghost me. What are the odds of this? Or is everyone at Marriott corrupt and unwilling to listen to customers?
Another Marriott “promise” on May 11th that my case was reopened and “escalated” and that I would definitely hear back within 3-5 business days (it is now the June 19th, the 6th business day).
This letter is our last glimpse of hope to find somebody who cares enough to listen. We feel we are owed a complete refund because of the (for lack of a better word) hell which Marriott has put us through, including, becoming victims subject to Marriott’s deceptive tactics and practices. It is also our hope that our feedback will be taken seriously, so that no other customer will ever be treated the way we have been treated. Our experience, which we’ve related to our friends and family is both sickening and outrageous. It has caused my wife and I, along with countless friends and family to vow to never step foot inside another Marriott again, regardless of price (including my travel agent mother). I wonder how J. Willard Marriott would feel if he knew how his company operates today: deceiving, lying, taking advantage of, disrespecting, and not caring for its customers.