“I was rudely told 9,000 points is really not much”

By request, here’s a story without a happy ending. But not because you asked for it. Jay Green did — and it’s his story.

So take it away, Jay.

I’m not asking you to do anything, because I’m sure you get a lot of requests from people with much bigger fish to fry. But I am more curious why Hilton would possibly treat customers like they have treated me.

I’ve had a Hilton HHonors account for a number of years, and have stayed at some Hiltons for business and Hampton Inns with my family. I had accumulated over 9,000 points, but when I went to book a business trip for earlier this week, I was told that all of my points had expired becasue I had not added points to my account in the last 12 months.

I was told that I was sent notices about this at the 3-, 6- and 9-month marks, none of which is true. I also received no notice that this had happened. Instead when I called to appeal, I was rudely told 9,000 points is really not much.

To me, the $900 I spent with them is in fact a lot of money, and more logically, if it is not much, I don’t understand why they took it away from me.

As I told them, I’ll be sure not to stay at any of their hotels anymore. I’ve never had any issues with my Hyatt or Marriott accounts. How can they possibly think this is good business?

Before we get to the resolution (such as it is) let’s have a look at Hilton’s form response to his request to reinstate his points.

Thank you for your request to have your previous account balance restored.

HHonors is a loyalty program recognizing those customers who frequently transact with the The Hilton Worldwide Portfolio of Brands. To provide recurrent customers with the richest and most flexible program possible, we close inactive accounts. Qualifying activity consists of either completing an eligible hotel stay, or earning points through our wide variety of partners at least once every 12 months. If this requirement is not met on any HHonors account, all accumulated points are forfeited.

Upon further review of your Hilton HHonors account information we have determined we are unable to reinstate any points that have been removed from your account.

However, we are pleased that you are returning to The Hilton Worldwide Portfolio of Brands and will award you 2,500 bonus points for your first stay with us within the next 60 days.

Should you require further assistance please contact the Hilton Customer Service Center at the telephone number below. Any HHonors Customer Service Representative will be happy to assist you. We appreciate your continued loyalty to the The Hilton Worldwide Portfolio of Brands, and look forward to providing you with excellent service during your next stay.

This response leaves something to be desired. I’m particularly disturbed by, “To provide recurrent customers with the richest and most flexible program possible, we close inactive accounts.” Huh? You mean, they took away my points for my own good? How, exactly, does that work?

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I could contact Hilton and appeal its decision. But I remember what happened the last time I did that. No, my friends. You want to see this one get what’s coming to him, don’t you?

Green thought the 2,500 bonus point offer for “returning” to Hilton was on the low end. So what now?

Here’s what he wrote back to Hilton:

I received no warning whatsoever that this was to occur, and no notice at all that this had occurred. I’ve never been treated like this by any hotel group.

If you care so little about your customers to treat them this way, I have no interest in giving you any of my or my family’s business. (And by the way, I was told that I would get 2,500 points with my next stay, which already occurred about a week ago, and you didn’t do that either.)

Please go ahead and cancel my account. If the points can be donated to charity, go ahead and do that.

Hilton didn’t have to lose this customer. All it needed to do was bend a rule and give him a few points.

Update: (3/35) Apparently, 9,000 is a big deal. Here’s the letter Green received late yesterday, and to which he referred in his comment.

Thank you for your message to Hilton Reservations and Customer Care. It is my pleasure to assist you today with your point reinstatement request.

I understand your point of view regarding our deactivation policy. We send notices of a possible lapse in a member’s account 9 and 12 months prior to deactivation. We do make every attempt to send these correspondences, but it is ultimately the responsibility of the member to remain knowledgeable as to the Program Terms and Conditions, keeping up to date contact information, and as to the number of points in his/her account.

Our records indicate that your last stay was April 11, 2007 and your account was deactivated on January 19, 2010. Prior to your deactivation we made an exception and removed your account from our systematic deactivation list through June 30, 2009 per your request.

I would like to remind you that the Hilton HHonors program is a guest awards program designed for frequent travelers and all accounts require point earning activity within a consecutive 12 month period to remain open. Per the Terms & Condition of the HHonors program, accounts which do not have this point activity within a consecutive 12 month period may be removed from the program and are subject to forfeiture of all accumulated points. However, due to your recent stay at the Hilton Newark Gateway at Penn Station from March 15 to March 16, 2010, I have fully reinstated your previous account balance of 9,471 points. Note: we will NOT be able to offer any type of reinstatements or offers in the future. You may view your current account balance online at www.hiltonhhonors.com using your account number and PIN.

To assist you in preventing your account from being deactivated in the future, here are some easy ways to keep your account active:

~ Simply complete an eligible stay at any of more than 3,000 Hilton Family hotels worldwide at least once every 12 months

~ Earn HHonors points with our partners by renting a car, sending flowers, or shopping at a variety of premier retailers.

~ Enroll in a Hilton HHonors sponsored credit card and make purchases to accumulate HHonors points.

~ Purchase points online to keep your account open. HHonors point purchases must be made in increments of 1,000 points and every 1,000 points costs US$12.50 ($.0125 per point). Purchase a minimum of 10,000 HHonors points at one time and the cost is reduced to only $.01 per point!

~ OWN WITH HILTON GRAND VACATIONS CLUB- Hilton Grand Vacations Club Members enjoy a lifetime of unsurpassed vacations and Silver VIP HHonors membership! Call 1-877-246-2832 today.

For more details including participating retailers and partners, please visit us on-line at www.hiltonhhonors.com.

If you have any further questions regarding your HHonors account, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

For immediate assistance, please click on the link below for the contact number of the HHonors Service Center nearest you:


(Photo: Ricardo Meza/Flickr Creative Commons)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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