Rite Aid ran a series of two interesting promotions at the start of the year. In January, I wrote about the Happy You Year promotion which offered, among other things, 2 Free Nights in a Hyatt for $250 Spend. I then wrote about the Fabuary promotion which was basically the same thing, except that it offered a Free Flight for $250 Spend.
I also offered 4 Predictions For The Rite Aid Free Hyatt Night Promotion where I went into further detail about how TLC Marketing, the fulfillment company behind the promotion, didn’t exactly have a great track record dating to 2007 when they botched the JC Penny / Docker’s promotion.
Well, I’m happy to say that I was mostly wrong in those predictions. Based on my own experience, and from what I have read in the comments, it seems to have gone reasonably well. That is to say, most, though perhaps not all, seem to have received what they were promised.
In this post, I’ll share my experience and then ask for your updates.
I Went All In On Happy You Year
The Happy You Year promotion interested me the most. I’m a Hyatt Diamond so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect from the stay certificates, and what they would be worth to me. Two nights is nice, but a week seemed like it would be better. So I did the deal three times — no, I mean, I helped my parents and my in-laws each do the deal, in addition to my family.
I bought what seemed like the best deals on otherwise overpriced stuff — but no monkey butt powder — and then turned around and resold a lot of it on Ebay. It worked pretty well, though I’m not dying to do it again because it’s a pain. I think I sold most of it for a bit less than I paid for it, which obviously means I shouldn’t quit my day job (or night job for that matter) to become an Ebay reseller. It was a fun little learning experience into the world of flipping stuff which apparently can be profitable for some. At this point, I guess I can sort of see how you could make a living doing this, even I mostly just made a losing….
Given the pain of buying for the purpose of reselling, maybe I should have bought some butt powder….
So my parents, in-laws, and I all submitted our paperwork. Everything went pretty much as expected albeit that it took maybe a week longer than promised to hear back at each phase of the process. Still, compared to 2008, that was no big deal.
I had selected my first choice property to be one that I knew would be available in the hopes of keeping it simple during the booking process. When the agent called, I was easily able to book that property — I even asked to change the dates with no issue — but I’m pretty sure I could have switched to any other, as she really didn’t care. The booking process was actually really easy and the agent was quite friendly.
I booked all the stays for July, mostly arbitrarily since I expected to be able to move them later. If I had to do it over again, I might have booked them for May, to insure that they were motivated to send the certificates sooner.
Interestingly, Hyatt was able to match the details of my TLC-booked stay to my profile, as the reservation showed up in my Gold Passport account automatically. Just when you think there is no IT in Hyatt, they surprise you….
They advised that they would send the certificates by certified mail. When I booked my stay, I was told they would mail them in 3-4 weeks because they had a backlog, but that I would definitely receive them by July. When my Dad booked his, they told him that he would receive the certificates 3-4 weeks prior to his stay in July. So it seems there was a bit of confusion as to where the 3-4 weeks was referenced from.
In the end, we received all three sets of our certificates, and I would say that it was about 5-6 weeks after the booking date. This seems acceptable to me, as they still arrived about 7-8 weeks before the scheduled stay.
As expected, these are Premier level Hyatt certificates, meaning that you can use them at any Premier level property that has availability on stay certificates. They have a printed expiration date of July 2016 on them, which is really awesome.
I just now called Hyatt to cancel each of the three reservations that TLC booked and will save the certificates for use in the future.
So like I say, it went pretty smoothly for me and my family. I’m definitely glad that I rolled the dice and gave TLC another chance.
How It Worked For Others
While I’ve read that it went pretty well for most folks, I’ve seen a few stories of those who got the runaround or were offered an alternative award. It seemed like this happened more often with the Free Flight version, which frankly isn’t too surprising to me because it’s just a lot more complicated.
The Hyatt stay certificates are really straightforward, and the costs to TLC / Rite Aid are basically fixed — the stay certificates have a flat cost to them, so there’s really no incentive for them to mess around with us (unless they just don’t want to issue them at all). The Free Flight could end up being really expensive, depending on what the customer requested, perhaps much more than their model predicted.
In fact, I had suggested the strategy of booking an expensive ticket (between arbitrary cities), and then paying the change fee to recoup the value of the ticket. A few readers did even better — they booked an expensive ticket and then used a schedule change as an excuse to refund the ticket without a change fee. Very nicely done.
Unfortunately, I’ve also heard of a few who had to go the Better Business Bureau route to get a response. I’m wondering if these folks were able to get resolution in the end. I certainly hope so.
I’m interested to hear how it worked for you. Include the details like which promotion, how it worked, whether you are satisfied, and would you do it again.
I’m also very interested to hear from someone who booked the 1-week timeshare, as that looked like it had the potential to be lucrative. (Or a total pain in the butt.) Anybody take the camping nights?