Compromised identity by the W Austin employee. Banned me from property rather than investigate.

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Mar 27, 2018
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#1
8-31-09 I made a reservation for the W Austin and as a Titanium member attempted to check in early as it's one of the listed benefits allowed titanium members. Prior to arriving I called the property to inquire about availability. The night auditor on duty clearly indicated they had plenty of availability.
Upon arriving at the property she was adamant I would not be able to check in early despite having verified there was availability. She further continued attempting to create a new reservation for the night prior using my points for the night before, and the highest cash rate for the current night and following night. I told her that was ridiculous and said I would simply go to another property. I drove 5 blocks to the JW Marriott, where from the hours of 4:00am to 4:05am my account was suspended and put into audit. Elite services was unable to tell me why this was done. But later indicated someone called in pretending to be me to make a reservation on my account using my points. The following day I got an email from Marriott Corporate stating the attempted reservation on points for the W Austin would not be honored due to security concerns.
As I was no longer able to access my rewards account I had to pay an exorbitantly inflated nightly rate for a room the next few days, when I should have been able to just use points.
A few days later I called elite services and spoke with a manager who was able to take my account out of audit. He suggested I create a pin for my account and while assisting me in setting this up, my account was thrown back into audit. According to the manager someone had called back in pretending to be me while I was still on the current call with him. There were no other notes or reasons given for my account being suspended.
I then called the property and informed them of my suspicions their night Auditor committed fraud and identity theft as there was only a 5 minute gap in which it could have been done, during my 5 block drive to the JW, after leaving the W. Rather than take my concerns seriously, the assistant manager laughed it off. I offered to send him the documentation and recorded phone conversations with his night auditor and Marriott elite services to assist them in looking into who and why my account was compromised. He refused to accept any of the evidence compiled and instead banned me from the property. This was highly unusual, as I was the victim of identity theft and fraud yet the one having to repeatedly suffer the massive financial consequences of this data breach which The W Austin and Marriott International refuse to take seriously.
 
Dec 19, 2014
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#5
Based on your post, it seems there are 2 issues that you are bringing up:

Issue 1: Check in at W Austin
1) You had a confirmed reservation at the W Austin with an arrival date of 8/31/2019. (was that using points? or cash rate?)
2) You attempted to check in early as part of your Titanium benefits.
* as a side note, early check in is not a guaranteed benefit for Titanium members, so the request would be upon availability. Based on your post, you attempted to check in at 4AM. Even if you had Your24 as part of Ambassador elite, published check-in time does not start until 8AM.
3) The night manager advised you that you could not check in early (was it 4AM or later?)
4) You opted to leave and go to the JW Marriott, but found your account frozen, which no one could identify the reason. Later, you found that the account was frozen due to suspicious activity, which you allege is the result of the night manager attempting to call and redeem points for a night. As a result, you were unable to redeem points for the JW Marriott and had to pay a higher rate.

So, what happened to the original reservation at W Austin? Was that cancelled? Did you get the cancellation in writing? Effectively, Marriott has a 48 hour cancellation policy, so if you had an active reservation at the W Austin, how was this addressed? When you went to the JW Marriott, the reservation at the W Austin is still active.

Also, could there be an alternative explanation?

Issue 2: Alleged identity theft
What is the Marriott corporate response? Have they said for certain that someone tried to access your account pretending to be you? How were you banned from the W Austin? Did they notify you in writing?

Not to criticize, but how you approach this issue may have made a difference. Coming out guns ablaze and accusing the night clerk of fraud and identity theft is likely to be met with an unfavorable response.

What actions would you like Marriott to take at this time?
 
Mar 27, 2018
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#6
What actions would you like Marriott to take at this time?[/QUOTE]
1.) The reservation was confirmed on a cash rate
2.) I called prior to attempting to check in at which time availability was confirmed by the night auditor/check in agent, prior to arrival at the property.
3.) She was the night auditor, stated there was no night manager just her.
4.) After opting to leave the W Hotel, I drove the 5 blocks to the JW Marriott. At this time, I attempted to log into my account, finding it was suspended and placed in audit. The reservation at the W Austin I made was cancelled by the W Austin. While the following two reservations using points in my account I did not make were cancelled by Marriott International.

Issue 2:
Yes, I have it on a recorded phone call where while on the phone with a manager who was able to remove my account from audit and was assisting me create a pin on my account. While still on the phone with him, he stated. HMMM, that's weird, the account has been placed back into audit. The notes here state you just attempted to call in, but you've been on the phone with me this whole time.
On a second recorded call with a different manager, she stated the notes showed the account was placed into audit because someone called in pretending to be me. But there were no other notes placed and she said it didn't make sense.
The assistant manager for the W Hotel notified me I was banned on property after I offered to send him all the documents and information I had gathered with the help of Marriott Corporate so far. After he stated he would not accept it, and I further questioned as to why. He blurted out you're no longer welcomed at this property and now banned. He then hung up on me. This is also in a recorded phone call.
My emails to Marriott corporate in response to the point reservations for the W Austin not being honored where not much help. They verified I did not make the reservations, but because my account was under audit and suspended were unable to provide any further information. When the account was taken out of audit and I replied, I got a response several days later stating the same thing. Which come to find out my account was placed back into audit at that time. Subsequent emails and requests have not received a response of any kind.
I contacted Marriott Consumer Affairs and requested this all be investigated. I was asked for 3 days for her to research the issue and I would receive a response. It's now been close to 3 weeks without a single reply.

I contacted the property accusing the night auditor due to the information received directly from Marriott, the timing of this happening within minutes of leaving the property when the corporate office was closed, and the only person known to have even accessed my account or attempted to make modifications or reservations using my account despite my objections was the night auditor. I understand I could have perhaps gone about this initially in a different manner. But I had just shelled out over $1000 extra dollars just to get a room to stay in while my account was suspended.

The only goals I've ever had have been to ensure the security of my account, personal identity and financial information as well as be reimbursed for the massive out of pocket expense from not being able to access my account and make reward reservations and time consumed. Sadly, there have been no attempts that I've been made aware of by the W Austin or Marriott international to investigate what actually occurred. The only good news I've received from Marriott, is that my account has been notated by a senior manager from the audit team to not place my account back into audit again.
 
Dec 19, 2014
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#7
Thanks for the follow-up.

More questions:
1) The unauthorized reservations.... Did Marriott tell you the details of the unauthorized activity? Was this a reservation made for the W Austin under YOUR name? or was an attempted reservation made for another property under a different name?
That would indicate the severity of the breech, as to whether your account has been compromised by a hacker or if there is a potential misunderstanding with the W Austin.

Full disclosure (I am a Bonvoy elite), I do not work for Marriott or any franchise under contract with Marriott, but I have contacts at both.
Being banned by a property is highly unusual, especially for an elite member. In fact, the hotel managers I know state that it is their explicit policy to avoid banning any guests because if they do so without ironclad documentation, Marriott corporate will overturn the ban. Based on your experience, I'm not sure you want to go back to W Austin, but one of the tasks at hand is to determine a) are you truly banned from the property, and b) if you are banned, do you want to have the ban overturned, and c) do you really want to go back to the W Austin?

The above is the reason why I questioned how you approached the management team at the W Austin. Being a difficult customer won't get you banned, but communicating threats (for example) will end you on a banned list.

2) As to compensation...
I would ask Marriott to reimburse you for the difference between the total cost of your initial reservation at the W Austin, and the "extra" cost you endured paying the higher rate at the JW Marriott.

I would also push for a detained explanation in writing as to why your account was placed in audit.
 
Mar 27, 2018
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#8
First and foremost I want to thank you for taking the time to give me an outsiders point of view.
1) I received the reservation confirmation emails, as I do with every reservation made under my account for the W Austin using points in my account. The first was made at 4:40am CST, about the time my account was placed into audit. The second made the same day a little after 9am CST. What's bizarre is at the time these reservations were made my account was still suspended and under audit, so could not possibly have been made by me. What's also bizarre, is the unauthorized reservations were made for the same property I had chosen to leave. However, the reservations match up to reservations the W Austin's night auditor kept trying to force me to agree to.
As for being banned from the property according to a manager in elite services who attempted to help me as much as she could. The notes in the Marriott Database by the property state reflect my calling into the property to report ID theft, and unauthorized account access. Then state I am banned from the property. She could find no other notes, mention or reasoning behind the ban. Nor could she find any notes or follow up actions the hotel took after being informed of the breach. Her exact words where this is highly unusual. Usually, there's at least some form of explanation for a property banning a member. There should also be notes regarding actions the property took in response to this potential identity theft and unauthorized access. But there are none. She opened up a case file against the property, which the property simply closed out and failed to follow up.

2.) The difference in price between the original reservation at the W Austin and the subsequent increased out of pocket costs are still over $1,000. It was one of the busiest weekends in Austin.

I have made repeated requests for explanations regarding the account being placed in audit. On the phone, I'm told I'll have to create or update a ticket, which only ever results in it being closed without contact. While subsequent emails once my account was finally taken out of audit and notated not to be placed back into audit have all been ignored.

It's not the path I prefer to go, but I think the only way any investigation is done, any answers or compensation provided will be after pressing the local law enforcement to begin their criminal investigation and Marriott and the W Austin fully comprehends the possible criminal and civil penalties both on the individual employee as well as the corporate level.

Without going into too much detail I have it on very good authority from within Marriott Corporate that many of the responses, claims and statements made by the assistant manager of the W Austin were entirely false and untrue. At least in regards to the management and night auditors capability to access, manipulate and affect my account. Well, either his "claims were entirely untrue or he was a horrible manager who failed to pay attention during training he received by Marriott."
 
Aug 30, 2015
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#10
My understanding is that as a Titanium member, you are entitled to late check out up to 4PM as long as it is not a resort or convention hotel. The early check in is subject to availability. Generally, you check in with the app and do the early check in request. If you want to check it at some time very early such as 4 am, that's up to 12 hours prior to what's generally regarded as a check in time. I would reasonably expect to be able to check it at noon, or even a bit earlier, but I think 4 am is not realistic in most cases. I did check in once at 5 am and didn't get charged an extra day, but this is a hotel where I was a regular. It appears that this unfortunate chain of events began with the expectation that check in at 4 am was a guaranteed benefit, and I think it is not. I am a Marriott Titanium member too. I am not sure of the best way to unravel this mess, but the first thing is to get expectations in line and know what is doable and what is not. If it is a busy time, they are not going to likely have rooms available for early check in, especially not at 4 am. If there was a ruckus caused over the expectation of an early check in, the first thing to start with might well be an apology to Marriott.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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Dec 27, 2014
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#11
Checking in at 4 am usually requires you to pay for the night before. And if you are booking it at the hotel it’s usually the walk up rate.

Was there any kind of argument with the clerk? Not an excuse for anything the clerk might have done but I’m wondering if she felt threatened and might have blocked your account if she felt you were a threat.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#12
I am slightly confused as to what happened.

Asking if there is an available room is not the same thing as asking for an early 4 am checkin — and that early check in does not seem to be a published guaranteed benefit of Titanium.

At what hotel was there an attempted reservation? Was it for the W Austin or someplace else?

If after leaving why would someone from the W Austin try to make a reservation— no one would be checking in. Is the night auditor still on duty at 9 am cst when the second attempt was made?
 
May 28, 2019
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#13
I don't know much about hotel rewards but don't think that this is deliberate identity theft or an attempt to take your reward points. The unauthorized activity was for same property and for the same time period of your attempted check in. I would not consider it unusual for a Marriott emp!oyee to have access to your account. I think that a possible explanation could be that information was incorrectly entered by the auditor when trying to get you to pay for the room at 4am. Subsequent activity on your account could have been the auditor trying to correct the error and these activities froze the account and sent it to audit. Somewhere during interactions with Marriott a threat was perceived which led to the ban.
Focus on getting reimbursement for the price difference in hotel rooms and getting your rewards account activated. I would craft my letter to just include bare bones facts without comments on the night auditor, hotel manager or what you have heard about their competency.
For example:
Attempted to check in early at 4am
Denied early 4am check in
Clerk suggested creating new reservation.
Declined this suggestion and left property.
Discovered my account was suspended and put into audit.
Unable to discover reason.
Discovered that I was banned from property.
Unable to discover reason.

Then state what you would like (price difference reimbursed and rewards account activated)
 
Likes: jayxcess
Mar 27, 2018
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#14
I did not attempt to return to the property as I verified I was indeed banned. Returning would subject me to being arrested for trespassing potentially.

As for the Night auditor, I told her i did not want her making new reservations for me. If she has to modify my existing reservation made on a cash rate to change it for the night prior which the system would not allow me to make a reservation for. I informed her I would be on with that and follow up. With management in the morning. She refused stating she would have to make a new reservation for the current day, back date it to the pervious day, in addition to another reservation for the current day. I refused and informed her I did not want her making new reservations for me and if she was unable to back date my existibg reservation I would simply do to another property and follow up with management in the morning.
Keep in mind prior to arrival I called and inquired if there was availability. She confirmed the property had plenty of availability for me to check in. It was only after making the reservation for the current day and only day the system would allow that the problems began. At no point in time did I ever create a reservation on points or authorize one to be madw by and for the W Austin. It was only roughly 5 minutes after leaving the W Austin that i attempted to log in and create a new reservation only to discover my account suspended and under audit. This is roughly the same time the first unauthorized reservation on points was made. The second made while my account was still in audit. At no point was i capable of making reservations of any kind after leaving the W Austin.
 
Mar 27, 2018
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#15
Christina,
That explanation woukd have been plausable if I had not made a resevation at a cash rate and the initial u authorized point reservation was not created after I had left the property. She was a night auditor. Her title alone states she is able to put accounts in audit. I later confirmed this capability with marriott corporate. She is also able to make reservations while accounts are in audit appatently. If she was attempting to correct any errors, the reservation at the cash rate needed to have been cancelled alone. Instead two reservations without my permission where created using up 100,000 points while I was unable to access my account in any way. Correcting the error in no way should have included making new reservations right after i left or later that morning without my authorization.
 
Aug 30, 2015
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#16
Christina,
That explanation woukd have been plausable if I had not made a resevation at a cash rate and the initial u authorized point reservation was not created after I had left the property. She was a night auditor. Her title alone states she is able to put accounts in audit. I later confirmed this capability with marriott corporate. She is also able to make reservations while accounts are in audit appatently. If she was attempting to correct any errors, the reservation at the cash rate needed to have been cancelled alone. Instead two reservations without my permission where created using up 100,000 points while I was unable to access my account in any way. Correcting the error in no way should have included making new reservations right after i left or later that morning without my authorization.
Marriott staff can make reservations, including points based reservations. They don't have to make any changes to your Marriott rewards account status in order to do this, they have access to some basic functionality as a front desk agent.

A night auditor at a hotel works to reconcile the accounts at the hotel, generally a franchisee. They wouldn't have any powers with Marriott Rewards that any other comparable employee has. Nothing to do with the title of night auditor at all.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
20,130
19,012
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#17
I did not attempt to return to the property as I verified I was indeed banned. Returning would subject me to being arrested for trespassing potentially.

As for the Night auditor, I told her i did not want her making new reservations for me. If she has to modify my existing reservation made on a cash rate to change it for the night prior which the system would not allow me to make a reservation for. I informed her I would be on with that and follow up. With management in the morning. She refused stating she would have to make a new reservation for the current day, back date it to the pervious day, in addition to another reservation for the current day. I refused and informed her I did not want her making new reservations for me and if she was unable to back date my existibg reservation I would simply do to another property and follow up with management in the morning.
Keep in mind prior to arrival I called and inquired if there was availability. She confirmed the property had plenty of availability for me to check in. It was only after making the reservation for the current day and only day the system would allow that the problems began. At no point in time did I ever create a reservation on points or authorize one to be madw by and for the W Austin. It was only roughly 5 minutes after leaving the W Austin that i attempted to log in and create a new reservation only to discover my account suspended and under audit. This is roughly the same time the first unauthorized reservation on points was made. The second made while my account was still in audit. At no point was i capable of making reservations of any kind after leaving the W Austin.
Then there seems to have been an altercation if they banned you. That is not what you explained to us.
Please tell us exactly what happened.
 
Likes: jayxcess
Sep 19, 2015
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#18
I am still confused but I admit to not knowing the Marriott program.

When you called for availability did you ask for availability for an extremely early check in for the following night— or just availability to check in an pay for that night’s stay? Could a miscommunication have happened?

I am not quiet understanding the backdating bit — why would that have been necessary?

So this was a cash rate for the Austin property— If so why even look at the points account?
 
Likes: Mel65
Dec 19, 2014
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#19
I am starting to get a clearer picture of what may have transpired. However, I still think there is missing details.

The situation started when the OP arrived at the W Austin for a 4AM check in. The OP states that he verified there was availability.
Facts:
1) A titanium Bonvoy member is NOT entitled to early check in. That is NOT a benefit of a titanium member.
2) The hotel will often grant early check in, as a courtesy, on a space available basis, but is not required to do so.
3) Had the OP arrived at 8AM or later, the hotel may have granted early check in
4) Even Bonvoy's top tear, Ambassador elite, with Your 24 benefits, the published earliest check-in time is 8AM

When the OP arrived at 4AM, he was not granted courtesy early check in.
Now, here's where it gets interesting...

The OP could have simply waited until check-in was available, which would have likely been after 8AM, but if the OP insisted on getting a room, he would be billed for the PREVIOUS night (8/30/2019). Depending on the contracted rate and/or rate rules, adding 1 night to the existing reservation can be complex. It may not be as simple as adding 1 night to the reservation. Also, since the arrival was 8/31/2019 at 4AM, the computer system may not allow the agent to make a reservation for 8/30 (because the date has passed). Thus, what the OP reported in post #14 makes sense.

The fact that there is availability is 100% irrelevant. This is not a case where you couldn't be assigned a room. The issue is, you would need to be billed for the night of 8/30/2019 and the early check in was not complementary.

At this point, the OP still has an ACTIVE reservation from 8/31/2019 onwards. That reservation cannot be cancelled without penalty either. With few exceptions, Marriott's minimum cancellation period is 48 hours.

So, this leads us to the mystery of how the exchange between the "night audit clerk" and the OP went. We do not know the exact exchange between the OP and the night clerk. If there was mention of using points, etc. If it went nuclear or if the OP became angry and showed his tail, I can see how it could lead to being "banned."

I have confirmed with my contacts that being banned from a Marriott property is NOT a trivial matter. Obviously, things happen, but for a Titanium bonvoy member to be banned, something major had to happen and I mean major.
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As to the issue of identity theft, based on the updated information, it does not appear that there is identity theft. It is not as if someone has compromised the security of the Bonvoy account. Since the reported "thefts" involve point transactions with the W Austin, it appears there is a misunderstanding of sorts.

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My recommendations to the OP.

Your biggest problem is the ban, though fortunately, it does not appear that the W hotel is owned by company that has many properties. As a side note, if you are banned from a hotel, you may find that you are banned from ALL properties owned by the hotel owner (W, Marriott, etc are management companies).

Marriott corporate can overturn the ban, and that is usually what happens. Continue to work with Marriott corporate and avoid using accusatory terms or threatening legal action.

I a
 
Dec 19, 2014
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#20
I also want to mention that while Marriott will bend over backwards for elite members, there are some policies or rules that cannot be waived, regardless of member status. As a titanium member, your estimated annual spending with Marriott exceeds $15,000/year. Thus, no individual property wants to alienate you, and corporate wants to keep you as a customer. In fact, an elite member's complaint carries significant weight and corporate will require an explanation from the property.

Perhaps another avenue is as @Bill___A says in post #10, a well written apology to the general manager of the W Austin may be a good start.

W hotel e-mail addresses use the format <firstname>.<lastname>@whotels.com
Based on my research, you may want to reach out to Joanna McCreary (General Manager)

PS, your tripadvisor post that you posted today DOES NOT HELP YOU RESOLVE THIS SITUATION!