BEST TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTING: My husband received a $1,000 Marriott gift card as a “thank you” for remodeling a bathroom for a family in need.
We tried using the card at a Westin property in Boston a few months later. But when we gave a representative the gift card number, he said someone had already used it at a JW Marriott in Orlando.
I immediately contacted the Marriott gift card department to report the issue. Since then I have made numerous attempts to contact Marriott via email and phone to no avail. Marriott will not replace the gift card.
Can you help me get my husband’s gift card back?
—Louise Panicali, Guilford, Connecticut
ANSWER: That was nice for your husband to do – and the gift card was a fitting gesture of gratitude.
If a gift card doesn’t work, you’ll need to talk to the person who gave you the card. You mention that the person paid $1,000 for the gift card without giving any details. But a receipt would have helped clear this up.
Instead, it seems that you leaned on Marriott to solve the problem. That’s fine – it’s Marriott’s name on the card, after all – but I don’t think the company is fully responsible for this crappy gift card.
Here’s another missing piece of information: When was the card redeemed in Orlando? Was it before you received the gift card or after? If it was afterwards, then someone stole the card number.
This is one of the many problems I have with gift cards. Companies treat these financial instruments as cash, but they are not cash. In most cases, you can only use them at one company, and according to people in the industry, many, if not most, gift cards never get redeemed.
It looks like you’ve been back and forth with Marriott’s card department for several months. You may have tried to escalate it to one of the Marriott customer service representatives I list on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org.
I have contacted Marriott on your behalf. Instead of replacing the card, you got 100,000 Bonvoy points. At a valuation of 0.07 cents per point, that’s $7,000 in Marriott points. “The case is solved,” you told me.
I would use the points before anyone else does.
Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy (elliotaadvocacy.org), a non-profit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at [email protected] or get help by contacting him at elliottadvocacy.org/help/.
(c) 2023 Christopher Elliott
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