There were larvae in my room. Shouldn’t Hotels.com refund me?

When Stephanie Slovon discovers that her hotel room is infested with insects, she immediately checks out, but is stung by Hotels.com’s refusal to issue her a refund. Can some buzz from our advocates in Hotels.com’s ear produce some compensation for Slovon?

Question: I booked a stay at the Wynwood South Beach Hotel in Miami Beach, Fla., through Hotels.com. I previously used Hotels.com to book stays at hotels, but after this experience I will never do it again.

I checked in and dropped off my bags in my room before going out. When I returned at 1 a.m., the room was infested with insects. There were maggots in the beds and wings all over the room. I have photos and videos of the infestation.

I went to the front desk to complain. The hotel staffer on duty came to my room to check it out. Although he was shocked by what he saw, he refused to call the manager or to help me.

As the room was uninhabitable, I checked out of the hotel. Before leaving, I had the employee sign a document indicating that I was unable to stay at the hotel because my room was infested by bugs. The document also provided that I expected a full refund of what I had paid. I then drove for an hour and a half before finding another place to stay.

After leaving, I contacted Hotels.com and filed a complaint. A representative of Hotels.com called the hotel, but I learned that the hotel manager would not be there until the morning. Until then, the representative told me, there was nothing Hotels.com could do for me.

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The next day, I spoke to a supervisor at Hotels.com, who called the hotel. The supervisor told me that the hotel manager would not be there until the following Tuesday, and that I would have to call Hotels.com at that time so that someone at Hotels.com could call the hotel to arrange the refund. The supervisor offered me a Hotels.com credit for my inconvenience.

That Tuesday, I spoke to another Hotels.com supervisor who called the hotel, but when the hotel refused to issue a refund, the supervisor told me “there was nothing else he could do” and that Hotels.com could not issue a refund to me.

I am very unhappy with Hotels.com’s handling of this experience and don’t plan to use its site again unless it can make the situation right, so the credit doesn’t mean much to me. Can you help me get a full refund for the room I couldn’t use? — Stephanie Slovon, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Answer: Ugh. After seeing the photos you submitted with your request for help, we fully agree with you that your room was completely unusable. Neither the hotel nor Hotels.com should have sold anyone that room. And the runaround you were repeatedly given by both the Wynwood South Beach and Hotels.com was inexcusable.

Hotels.com’s terms and conditions disclaim liability for conditions in the hotels advertising on its site:

The carriers, hotels and other suppliers providing travel or other services on this website are independent contractors and not agents or employees of the Hotels.com companies, or the Hotels.com affiliates. The Hotels.com companies and the Hotels.com affiliates are not liable for the acts, errors, omissions, representations, warranties, breaches or negligence of any such suppliers or for any personal injuries, death, property damage, or other damages or expenses resulting therefrom. The Hotels.com companies and the Hotels.com affiliates have no liability and will make no refund in the event of any delay, cancellation, overbooking, strike, force majeure or other causes beyond their direct control, and they have no responsibility for any additional expense, omissions, delays, re-routing or acts of any government or authority.

But a mere credit is not going to make you whole again after having to check out of your bug-infested room in the middle of the night.

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The Wynwood South Beach’s terms and conditions consist solely of the following paragraph, which is located at the bottom of the “Book Now” screen:

All reservations must be canceled by 4:00 PM at least 72 hours prior to arrival date in order to avoid a no-show charge equal to 1 night’s room rate and applicable taxes. Your credit card will be charged for the first night as a deposit, which will be fully refunded in the event the reservation is cancelled 72 hours prior to arrival. The $17.10 Resort Fee which is already added to your total includes the following amenities: two beach towels, daily continental breakfast, local and 800 calls, and wireless Internet access. * MUST BE 21 OR OLDER TO CHECK IN*.

And that’s all — no other guarantees or promises. But you might have contacted executives at CS Hospitality Group, the parent company of the Wynwood South Beach Hotel, to request assistance.

You might also have escalated your complaint to higher-level executives of Hotels.com, a brand of Expedia, using our company contacts, but after getting nowhere with Hotels.com supervisors, you asked our advocates for help with your refund instead.

We reached out to Hotels.com on your behalf, and you have notified us that Hotels.com finally issued you a refund. Hopefully, your case will induce the hotel’s management to exterminate both the insect infestation and the horrendous customer service it provided you when you had to abandon your room.


Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for Elliott.org. Read more of Jennifer's articles here.

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