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IHG Free Night Disaster
We all know that IHG has devalued their loyalty program a lot over the last few years, combine that with my recent IHG Free Night certificate disaster (s) and I’m done with them. When the devaluation of their co-branded Chase credit card free night benefit happened I got lucky that I got one more unlimited night. If you don’t know, the free night went from an uncapped night to a free night on hotels up to 40K points. If you combine this change with the program devaluations including increased award night prices, you can see what a crappy change this was for those of us with several IHG cards. Then of course IHG trapped us all over again by offering huge sign up bonuses – like the one being currently offered. Then they extended the expiration of all certs due to covid and those of us with one more year with an uncapped certificate got stuck again. (Warning: long annoying article ahead 🙂
Prepandemic, everyone with uncapped free night certificates was making sure to book them before they expired. My own situation was no different, I was able to book my expiring free night for an Intercontinental in London that was 70K award points per night for late March 2020. I’m sure you can guess what happened next. Enter the pandemic and #shocker my stay was cancelled. Many of us were hopeful IHG would take it’s lead from other hotel programs in extending the expiration date of free night certs but they were slow to come to the party. In fact they waited until December 16, 2020 to extend free nights expiring only two weeks later. Guess what? In their infinite generosity (read: sarcasm) IHG extended the free night certificates until August 2021. This was good news for me because I had two and I was really hoping to use them for the highly coveted Thalasso property. So I went to work and after tirelessly searching availability I finally found two back to back nights in mid April.
Fast forward to early March- I needed to change one of the nights by two days, so I tried to modify the reservation and it wouldn’t allow me to make the change online. I decided to chat an IHG rep to see if they could make the change for me. After an hour on chat, the rep told me my best bet was to just cancel the reservation and rebook which I wasn’t crazy about since IHG’s IT is a nightmare but I went ahead and did it. Generally when you cancel, the free night gets immediately returned to your account (at least in my experience). Sadly, that didn’t happen here, so I waited until the next day which we all know is dangerous when dealing with a hotel that has little if any award availability, but I decided to roll the dice.
Two days later I opened my account and found that they’d returned the free night in the form of a 40k certificate. WOMP. At this point I called the Spire Elite number and was very rudely told that the certificate was already back in my account, but I wasn’t sure the rep understood what I was saying so I asked for a manager and she said that’s not possible for the Spire Elite designated line. Okay, back to chat. It took over an hour but the rep tried to convince me that:
- The Thalasso went down to 40k points due to dynamic pricing and that’s why I only got the 40k cert.
- Then she asserted it was already in the account and
- Then she said it was a system error and it was fixed. If you wanna read the chat see Chat 1 Below.
IHG Campaigns for Worst Loyalty Program of All Time
It Gets Worse (So much Worse). Apparently, the Intercontinental in Bora Bora was closed this whole time and they weren’t planning on reopening until April 30, 2021. How do I know? I got an email from the hotel 2 weeks before my stay informing me that I need to cancel the reservation since they’re not open. (email below). About a week later I noticed the reservation was no longer active in my account and that the anniversary free night had not been refunded. This time I decided to call the Spire line and ask them what the issue was and when it would be resolved. Of course, the rep looked at my account and determined that the credit card anniversary night (capped at 40k) that had recently been deposited was in fact the free night cert refund.
So again, I explained that the new cert in my account is from the credit card anniversary that just passed and that it couldn’t possibly have been used to book a 70k point property since it’s CAPPED at 40K. She asked me to hold and then hung up on me. Cool. So I call back and ask for a manager because there’s no way I’m explaining this again, the woman insists that I explain the situation to her and I insist that I speak to a manager immediately. Guess what happened next? She hung up. So I went back to chat. This time was even better (as in way worse) than the first. I’ll paste the full convo below but here were her explanations (err excuses) in a nutshell.
- The free night certificate expired already so there’s no way to reinstate it. (Wrong- IHG extended all the expiring free night certs through August.)
- The free night certificate was changed from uncapped to capped at 40k. (That’s not a thing.)
- There was a new cert in my account so it had been refunded. (Wrong again- the new 40k cert in my account is an anniversary free night since my card just renewed for another year.)
Resolved? Not a chance. Below are all the communications if you really wanna delve into it but I have now called and emailed several times and I still don’t have my cert. At this point I just don’t think I care enough, I’ll try one more time before the end of the month by sending them this post.
Email from the hotel
Dear Mrs Walsh,
We hope this email finds you well.
Following the below statement, our resort is currently temporary closed since Saturday 6th of February, for a reopening on May 1st 2021.
We were glad to be welcoming you for your reservation, however won’t be able to do so due to the closing.
We invite you to contact our Reservation team on reservation.tahitiregion@
ihg.com or by phone on +689 40 86 51 78 in order to modify or cancel your booking.
We would like to sincerely apologize about this situation out of our control and would assure you of our commitment on assisting you with your booking.
Jennifer BordaAssistante Chef de Réception | Assistant Front Office Manager |
8 Minutes Later
Second Chat Transcript (This one lasted 41 minutes with no resolution)
BethanyW has joined the session 12:42
|but as you can see the one used to book the Bora Bora is missing because I only have one of those and I had two|
|I can send you both reservation numbers so that you can see they were booed with two separate uncapped free nights|
|Ma Cecilia M San: 12:52|
|Sure, can I ask for the other confirmation number, please?|
|es one sec|
|Ma Cecilia M San: 12:52|
|Deleted confirmation numbers here|
|Ma Cecilia M San: 12:55|
|Bethany, please give me 3-5 minutes to check on your free night, okay?|
|thanks so much|
|Ma Cecilia M San: 12:56|
|Welcome, one moment please.|
|Ma Cecilia M San: 13:02|
|Thank you for waiting.|
|Ma Cecilia M San: 13:02|
|Sorry for the long wait.|
|Ma Cecilia M San: 13:03|
|Bethany, per checking, the free night used for this reservation can no longer be refunded back to your account as this has already expired.|
|But IHG extended all free night certificates that were set to expire in 2020 through august 2021|
|BethanyW: 13:05 (here’s where I sent the text straight from the IHG site)|
|HG Rewards Club Credit Cards Anniversary Night Certificates: We recently re-issued the certificates that were set to expire in 2020 with a new expiration date of August 31, 2021. Certificates with an original 2021 expiration date have been extended and can now be redeemed through December 31, 2021. All expiration dates on your Anniversary Night certificates will be updated in your account by February 15, 2021.|
|here’s the page|
|Also, I didn’t cancel the reservation- the hotel cancelled it on me|
|but either way it’s very clearly covered by the policy from the page i sent
Ma Cecilia M San: 13:07 I can see a free night on your account where you can use until Aug 2021.
BethanyW: 13:08 That’s a different one
BethanyW: 13:08you can clearly see there were two nights booked with the uncapped reward certificate
BethanyW: 13:08both are supposed to expire in August
BethanyW: 13:08 As is stated in the terms and conditions
Ma Cecilia M San: 13:11 I apologize for the inconvenience.This concern has been documented and forwarded for further checking and investigation.
BethanyW: 13:11what does that mean? who is going to fix this?
Ma Cecilia M San: 13:12You may use reference number 10490816703 as a guide for this concern.
BethanyW: 13:12 for who?
BethanyW: 13:12 who is looking into it?
Ma Cecilia M San: 13:13 This has been forwarded to our team who have access to refund the certificate back to your account.
BethanyW: 13:13 okay so who should I follow up with and can I have their phone number and email?
BethanyW: 13:13 What’s the name of the team?
BethanyW: 13:19 thank you
BethanyW: 13:20 are they going to follow up with me?
Ma Cecilia M San: 13:21 We apologize for this inconvenience. Kindly wait for the response from the IHG Rewards team.
BethanyW: 13:21 do you know about how long it generally takes?
Ma Cecilia M San: 13:22 Within 24-48 hours .
BethanyW: 13:22 Great thanks for your help
Ma Cecilia M San: 13:22 You’re welcome! Aside from this, would there be anything else I can help you with?
BethanyW: 13:23 no that’s all
BethanyW: 13:23 have a great day