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By now you’ve probably heard the announcement that Hyatt is eliminating the Hyatt Gold Passport program and replacing it with the World of Hyatt program (rendering much of this website obsolete in the process)
But did you know that the manner in which this was done was a violation of Hyatt’s own Gold Passport Terms and Conditions?
These Terms and Conditions clearly state that six months prior notice is required to terminate the Hyatt Gold Passport program:
The mail regarding the change to World of Hyatt was received by me on November 1st, 2016; by their own Terms and Conditions, they should not have to ability to terminate the Hyatt Gold Passport program until at least May 1st, 2017. As I have yet to receive a valid notice with proper notification, that date as of this writing is now May 5th (and counting)
When asked about this, a Hyatt Representative attempted to claim that this was merely a “change” to existing loyalty program, not a termination, so the above clause does not apply. However, this goes against all communication sent out by Hyatt up to this point, including:
1. The original mail notification of the changes, clearly showing that World of Hyatt is a “new” loyalty program.
This message also exists on the World of Hyatt program website referenced in the first paragraph of this post.
2. The press release announcing the change, stating that World of Hyatt is “a new global loyalty program” and that Hyatt Gold Passport was ending on February 28th, 2017.
3. The notice from Jeff Zidell, VP of Hyatt Gold Passport, on Flyertalk, announcing World of Hyatt as “your new loyalty program, which will replace Hyatt Gold Passport® on March 1, 2017″.
4. The World of Hyatt Terms and Conditions, which clearly delineates Hyatt Gold Passport and World of Hyatt as separate programs.
How Will This Change Affect You?
As the full changes to Hyatt’s are long, complicated, and beyond the scope of this article, I will for now simply focus on the case of Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond members being transferred to World of Hyatt Globalist membership.
While there are several disadvantages to this conversion, the two biggest ones from the standpoint of former Diamond member are:
1. No more 1,000 point per stay Diamond amenity
2. Much tougher requalification standards. While Diamond members require only 25 stays or 50 nights within a calendar year to requalify for the status, Globalist members require either 60 nights or 100,000 base points, both significantly higher hurdles.
So a former Diamond member will, over the course of 25 stays that does not meet either of the new Globalist requalification requirements, lose enough points for a free night’s stay at Andaz Tokyo AND enjoy considerably reduced benefits the following year compared with what a Diamond member would have received.
BUT…if the termination of Hyatt Gold Passport is invalid, it stands to reason that you will still be entitled to those benefits until a valid termination of the program takes place.
This is just one example. I would suggest that you review Hyatt’s Gold Passport and World of Hyatt websites to review the changes and determine how they will affect you
What Can I Do About This?
For now, nothing has changed, so there is no reason to do anything drastic. What you can do is express your concern with how this change was given without proper notice, in a respectful email to the Hyatt Gold Passport folks at email@example.com. Additionally, Gold Passport Vice President Jeff Zidell has published his email address on Flyertalk, so you may also make your concerns known to him as well. Hopefully, Hyatt will hear our collective voices and make this right.
However, if things have not changed come March 1st, 2017, then that is when these invalid changes will begin affecting us. From that point on, you should keep track of all of the benefits that you should have received under the Hyatt Gold Passport program for your stays (e.g. 1000 point Diamond stay amenities, qualification towards Diamond tier for the following year, etc.) and continue requesting that Hyatt honor the old program that had not been terminated.
If you have sustained tangible losses, and have exhausted all efforts to resolve the issue with Hyatt directly, you have two options to pursue the matter further:
1. Hyatt Hotels Corporations is incorporated in Delaware, so you would need to file a Small Claims suit in the state of Delaware. While it is possible to file by mail from out of state, you or your counsel will need to appear in a Delaware court for the case. More details on how to proceed can be found here.
2. If it is too difficult to bring the case to a Delaware court, you may be able to use the Better Business Bureau to arbitrate a settlement. There is no cost to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and everything can be done online.
I do have faith that neither of the above actions will be required of us. In my experience, Hyatt has always been fair and reasonable about acknowledging its mistakes and rectifying them. So if enough of us bring the matter to Hyatt’s attention, I am sure that we can make the transition to the new loyalty system fairer for everyone.
Generally, the choice between booking a Points + Cash or an All Points Award reservation is a no-brainer in favor of Points + Cash. The reasons for this are:
- Points + Cash stays count towards qualified nights and stays for tier renewal
- Points + Cash stays can generally be combined with a Diamond Suite Upgrade
- The “cash” portion of Points + Cash allows one to effectively buy points at a very attractive rate.
For the purposes of this exercise, we will assume that the benefit of a qualified stay is negligible. If you’re cutting it that close on stays, then there are a lot better mattress stay options available than Andaz Tokyo.
Let us consider the Andaz Tokyo at this particular point in the space/time continuum that I am posting this (sadly, most of my previous articles are now woefully outdated…one of many reasons why actual posts here have become so infrequent) First, the regular rates at this hotel have become so high that it is always a good value to use points towards a reservation. Unfortunately, Andaz Tokyo is one of the exempt hotels that do not allow the use of Diamond Suite Upgrades (a pity, because they are REALLY nice!)
And now, for some of you that have purchased points in the past, there is another way to buy points and a very attractive rate:
With this new promotion, let’s crunch the numbers and see what happens.
First, the Andaz Tokyo Points + Cash reservation. As a Category 6 hotel, the cash portion of the Points + Cash rate at Andaz Tokyo should be $150; HOWEVER, as the hotel charges in yen, Hyatt uses it’s own exchange rates to give us 17,785 yen:
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL! Because Andaz Tokyo also charges the following on all paid rates (whether they’re supposed to or not):
Putting my degree in nuclear engineering to good use, I calculate the total total of the cash portion of this stay to be…22554 yen.
Whereas, if you can participate in the 40% point bonus promotion, then you can purchase the additional 12,500 points needed for a full award stay (plus an extra 100) for $216.
Using a generous exchange rate of 109 yen gives us a total of 23544 yen.
So, even with all of the Andaz Tokyo tomfoolery and a 40% point bonus, it’s still a slightly better value to book a Points + Cash rate. However, given the scarcity of Points + Cash rates that are actually available at Andaz Tokyo these days, there’s no need to feel bad about topping off your points with this sale to book an all points stay and experience the fizzy jacuzzi at a discount.
Currently, a Hyatt Diamond Suite Upgrade can be used towards reservations past the expiration date of the Upgrade, provided that no changes are made to the reservation after the expiration date. For example, this year’s DSUs expire on February 29, 2016, but if you apply them before that date, they can be used for reservations on March 1st, 2016, or any day after.
I have confirmed from Hyatt spokesperson that, starting with Diamond Suite Upgrades received on March 1, 2016, they can not be used on any reservations after the expiration. They will expire on February 28, 2017, and they cannot be used on reservations for March 1st, 2017, or any day following.
Since reservations can be made up to thirteen months in advance, this brings up the bizarre case where a March 2017 reservation can be upgraded to a suite using a 2015 DSU, but not with a 2016 DSU!
Probably the worst devaluation of benefits since I have become a Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond member.
Although I pride myself on being fairly proficient in the Hyatt Gold Passport Terms and Conditions, it wasn’t until a recent meal at the Park Hyatt Tokyo New York Grill that I realized that people can earn Hyatt Gold Passport points at restaurants even when they’re not staying at them. From the T&C:
3. Five Hyatt Gold Passport points will be awarded for each whole U.S. dollar or U.S. dollar equivalent, paid by a member for Eligible Non-Stay Charges. “Eligible Non-Stay Charges” vary on a hotel-by-hotel basis, but generally include spa and salon services, spa and salon retail items, one (1) day spa membership and food and beverage expenditures (except at outlets not operated by the hotel).
It was only by virtue of paying with my Hyatt Credit Card that that the staff noticed the membership number on it and used it to apply the credit, which showed up in my account almost immediately.
This only resulted in about 200 additional points but, after going over the past year’s worth of credit card statements, I realized that I had patronized Hyatt bars and restaurants without staying about a dozen times without receiving anything. That seemed like a decent chunk of points that I was leaving on the table, so I went back to research the T&C to see if it was possible to retroactively claim the credit.
You already know by the fact that I’m writing this that it is, but here’s the relevant text that proves it:
5. In the event a member does not provide their Hyatt Gold Passport membership number at the time Eligible Non-Stay Charges are incurred, the member must contact the hotel’s outlet directly to request retroactive point issuance. Retroactive point issuance credit timeframes vary hotel-by-hotel. Retroactive credit for which a receipt can be provided will only be awarded on Eligible Non-Stay Charges by the shorter of: 1 year from outlet visit, or the date on which the outlet began participation in the benefit (varies hotel-by-hotel). Eligible Non-Stay Charges prior to a member’s enrollment in Hyatt Gold Passport will not be eligible for retroactive credit.
It seemed like I was good to go…but first, I had to figure out what made a Non-Stay Charge “Eligible”. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as cut and clear as I had thought it would be:
1. Hyatt Gold Passport members may earn Hyatt Gold Passport points for Eligible Non-Stay Charges (defined below) at participating outlets at Hyatt-branded hotels even when such charges are not affiliated with a stay at such hotel. Outlet participation is limited and this benefit may not be available at all hotels. Please ask outlet associates for participation eligibility.
To figure out whether or not a particular hotel participates in this program, see this handy link for the full breakdown. If you expand the Japan section, you will note that, while the Hyatt Regency Naha and Hyatt Regency Fukuoka are conspicuous by their absence, all of the Tokyo Hyatt hotels offer restaurant non-stay credit (and all but the Hyatt Regency Tokyo offer non-stay credit on spa visits)
Now I was finally able to start contacting each individual hotel for back credit. I started with the simplest and easiest, a single meal at the Oak Door Bar at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo (the Oak Door Burger was solid, but I have to say that I prefer the Andaz Tokyo burgers at BeBu) Armed with the knowledge of the date, location, and expenditure of the meal from my credit card statement, I fired off a quick e-mail to the mail address on the Grand Hyatt Tokyo website requesting retroactive credit.
Less than a day later, I received a very nice response from a representative of the restaurant apologizing to me for the oversight, and notifying me of the immediate deposit of points from the expenditure into my account, backdated to the original date of purchase. With the 30% Diamond bonus, this amounted to a whopping 92 additional points!
Quick and painless, the way it should be! But, unfortunately, not the way that it always is.
In Part 2, we will begin our exploration into what could go wrong, as I break down my experience claiming retroactive non-stay credit with the Park Hyatt Tokyo!
This post is not related to Tokyo Hyatt hotels (yet…), but since I’m not exactly burying you under an avalanche of content these days…
The Hyatt Gold Passport Terms and Conditions is a meaty beast of a document, coming in at just under 13,000 words in total. With that in mind, perhaps it’s understandable that even Hyatt itself has trouble keeping straight with what’s in it.
On the heels of their successful Southeast Asia Summer Flash Sale, Hyatt has decided to offer another one for the rest of the year. But this time around, Hyatt decided to get a little bit cheeky, and hid one tiny new sentence in the tiny fine print of the offer Terms and Conditions. Even I didn’t find it on my first run through; it took an observant Flyertalk Poster to alert me to this gem:
Offer not applicable to Diamond Suite upgrade.
To me, the Diamond Suite Upgrades are the crown jewel of Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond status: the opportunity to upgrade up to four paid reservations a year to a suite. At the eligible Tokyo Hyatt hotels (sadly, Andaz Tokyo is exempt from this benefit, but I did manage to sneak into their suite once anyway…), and especially the Grand Hyatt Tokyo and Park Hyatt Tokyo, this Diamond benefit alone has the potential to be worth tens of thousands of dollars a year! And the best part is that, unlike the ability to upgrade to a suite for 6000 points a night that requires booking at the Hyatt Daily Rate, the Diamond Suite Upgrade is good with any paid rate!
Since the people that put this promotion together obviously cannot be bothered to read and comprehend the 13,000 word behemoth, I have outlined the relevant passage of the Terms and Conditions that spell this out (in image form, lest the original text end up “changed” in the near future…)
I’ve brought this to the attention of Senior Vice President of Hyatt Gold Passport, Jeff Zidell, who has replied to say that they are looking into the matter. I think that it’s very clear that Hyatt will have to make a choice: change the Flash Sale to allow Diamond Suite Upgrades, or change the Terms and Conditions to inform Diamonds that they will have to read the fine print of each and every rate to determine if this benefit will apply. I certainly hope that they will choose the former…
Regardless, I’ll send another update when we get a final verdict!