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.

  • James

    Isn’t there some implicit guarantee of habitability in any hotel room rental?

  • LeeAnneClark

    To follow James’ question – aren’t there laws that could be involved here? Are there any legalities involved with renting out a room that is infested to the point of being uninhabitable? Does a property have to include an explicit guarantee to comply with such laws in order to be compelled to comply with them?

    And thanks for naming and shaming. Hope the LW wrote a review on TripAdvisor, Yelp etc. This is egregious and deserving of being made public.

  • Mel65

    Right?! It’s like being served a rancid food at a restaurant and then being told “oh sorry we have a no refund policy.”

  • Mel65

    And I hope the letter writer posted pictures! It was very shortsighted of the hotel management not to take care of this immediately with abject apologies to avoid what could becone a public relations and marketing nightmare. Gross! I would not stay at that hotel now for love or money.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Yes, that was a pretty poor business decision on their part. But after years of reading this site, I can’t say I’m surprised.

  • sirwired

    I would have gone with a credit card dispute. If there’s any “meat” to the “not satisfied with what you purchased” parts of the dispute process, I’d say this would be it. This isn’t “I didn’t like the location” or “The furniture was older than I would have liked”; this was simply entirely unusable.

  • ChelseaGirl

    If hotels.com won’t issue refunds based on uninhabitable rooms, why would anyone use them? I’ve read enough stories here to convince me to never use third-party sites to book. A lot of the time they aren’t cheaper anyway, and when they are, I’d rather pay more and book directly.

  • LeeAnneClark

    FYI – happy to see that the LW did, in fact, write a review on TripAdvisor. And she included the photos. Holy mother of god! If I saw that in a hotel room I’d run screaming!

    The Health Department should be called on this place.

  • I would contact the Health Department.

  • Noah Kimmel

    seems the problem was that the hotel didn’t want to refund, so hotels.com can’t return money the hotel has. The hotel is happy to have an intermediary because they can point the finger back. This is why you book direct! Some escalation up Wynwoodmight have done the trick.

  • Noah Kimmel

    I didn’t see the pictures, but I do know in Florida, especially in the summer, if you leave a hotel window or balcony door open at night, particularly with a light on, the bugs come in so fast! Odd that the hotel didn’t have a single other room to move the OP to. As a result, they deserved a refund right away.

  • Noah Kimmel

    in many cases now they are more expensive! The big chains all have “member discount” rates available only on their websites (though they are generally non-refundable advanced purchase)

  • LeeAnneClark

    Bugs are one thing – hundreds of maggots are another. I can’t imagine that just leaving a window open would have resulted in that degree of infestation – at least not in the short term. An infestation like that doesn’t happen over night. I saw the pictures — you can see them yourself if you just go look up the property on TripAdvisor.

    Perhaps they hadn’t used that room in a long time? If that’s the case, it seems incumbent on them to at least do a housekeeping check on an unused room before you start using it again, doesn’t it? At least to dust it! Given the photos, there’s no way a housekeeper wouldn’t have seen it. It was BAAAAAD!

  • Bill___A

    Glad it was resolved but it is crazy that the room is in such bad condtiton and that a refund and apology wasn’t immediately given. Another good deed by the Elliott team.

  • Lindabator

    not always true – sometimes the vendor decides to keep the funds – and brushes off the client

  • Lindabator

    actually – take a look online — they show the room clean, then used, and even them laying on the beds — and yes, wings, and what look like ants — but no maggots (show what look like some rice pellets – those did NOT look like maggots) —- and although other posters found the rooms small, dated and HOT, no other such complaints – I smell something here

  • Lindabator

    She did – and none show maggots – go check out Trip Advisor — shows them in a clean room, then laying about on the bed, a used bed, and wings/ants – looked like rice pellets on one, but that did NOT look like maggots at all — I smell something fishy here

  • Lindabator

    but funny thing is she had pictures of wings, and what looked like ants — but no maggots

  • Lindabator

    but if she used her “pictures” it would never have stood up – go check out TripAdvisor – found it a bit confusing

  • Lindabator

    the pics showed wings and a bad tub — a few ants (leave the windows open and you get them) — frankly, maggots do NOT resemble rice pellets, which it looks like in one photo — and it CLEARLY showed the beds were used, so very confused by this one

  • greg watson

    sounds just like my experience with my hotel & booking.com. Each blamed the other for being ‘unable’ to assist me. Such a crock…………….anyway, if you follow Elliott, you should know to book direct & not through a 3rd party

  • Annie M

    Those pictures look kind of like maggots but maggots generally roll up a little. But she had the employee who looked at the room agree that there were bugs and he or she even signed paperwork saying they saw it. It’s gross and thete definitely are ants. I would have put in a dispute on my credit card. I don’t know why people don’t just do that.

  • AMA

    That is so disgusting. I would have fled screaming, but hopefully would have had the presence of mind to take some video evidence.

  • joycexyz

    You mean like a lemon law? Considering some of the horrendous stories we’ve heard, I doubt it.

  • joycexyz

    Except that you don’t pay for the meal up front.

  • joycexyz

    Maybe she doesn’t know what maggots are. And the wings probably came from the migrating ants.

  • Kairho

    They should have checked TA first.

  • cscasi

    Actually, the name of the place is Wynwood South Beach Apartment Miami Beach according to Trip Advisor, not hotel. Yes, there are pictures of wings all over everything and one photo of two, what appears to be wingless ants; could be carpenter ants or even termites.
    Not sure how it shows the beds all messed up, bags and clothes around the room, etc. Why all that if all she did was check in, go to the room to drop bags and then come back at 1:00 AM to find Insects (maggots and wings all over her room)? Looks like she used it after she took the pictures of the made up room.
    However, I would be upset to return to my room and see what she encountered. And, for the on duty clerk not to be able to do anything; not even contact the manager, is unacceptable. I also do not know why she could not have been moved to another room; unless she did not want to stay after that (Who could blame her)?
    Glad she got her money back, but sorry she had to go through what she did to get it back.

  • James

    Well, based on this:

    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.

    I think a refund is in order. The hotel employee — a representative of the business — greed that the concentration of insects in the room rendered the room uninhabitable.

  • LeeAnneClark

    LOL I saw that! Good for them. It needed to get out there. :)

  • LeeAnneClark

    How could they be rice pellets if she complained? She would expect management to go look at the room, and if it was rice, that would be immediately obvious…and then she’d be setting herself up for a charge of fraud! No, I don’t buy it – I looked again, and yep, those are maggots and insects.

  • LeeAnneClark

    They were either maggots or rice – and they can’t be rice, or that would have been immediately obvious to the hotel management when they went to investigate, and then she’d be provably guilty of attempted fraud. So they had to be maggots.

  • Lindabator

    just have never seen such straight maggots in my life – and worked around food for years – but the number of wings and ants yucked me out (we get these flies off the water that totally gross me out!)

  • The Original Joe S

    Yeah, homo habilis. You live like a primeval ancestor.

    OTA – How many times do we see this? Good think they took photos and videos, because otherwise they would try to weasel out of refunding the money.

  • The Original Joe S

    Unless you go to MacDung or Burger Swill or any of those other unhealthy slop-chutes.

  • The Original Joe S

    and if you used una carta de credito, CHARGEBACK!

  • The Original Joe S

    and send the bug letter!

  • The Original Joe S

    You always do.

  • The Original Joe S

    Only to someone who always takes the sides of the prevaricators against the customers…..

  • The Original Joe S

    Now that’s a good idea. Call the health dept. Hotels must be regulated by some state agency, right?

  • The Original Joe S

    they did, but the contrarians and deniers argue against it. As Richard Pryor said, “Who are you gonna believe? Me, or your lying eyes?”

  • The Original Joe S

    Oh, the manager can’t be bothered by mere customers. Ever…..

  • The Original Joe S

    Maggots are the life forms who constantly post autonomic anti-customer tirades on this forum…..

  • Blamona

    Hate being minority– but why not no I le when dropping off bags? That many would have been there when first in room. Doesn’t make sense

  • LeeAnneClark

    Be glad you’ve never seen them – LOL! I’ve seen them before, and yeah, this is what they look like. We threw away a turkey carcass once, and the garbage man didn’t show up that week so it sat in our garbage can for way too long…and I made the mistake of opening the lid towards the end of that time. Entire inside of the garbage can was covered with little white rice-like maggots. EWW!

    As for the bedding – looks to me not like it was slept-in, but that they moved things around to take pictures of the insects.

    I’m quite confident this is real. What purpose would be served by making up this story? They didn’t get a free room – they had to go somewhere else to stay, which they had to pay for. All they wanted was a refund for the room they didn’t sleep in. Believe me, I’m as cynical as the next reader about some of these LWs trying to pull scams – witness the one that just happened the other day in which a woman lied about cancelling her Southwest flight. But this one has no evidence of being a scam.

  • Maxwell Smart

    was there no other room in hotel ? Was it 100% full ?
    Were insects there when you checked in ? Was a window left open ?
    Sometimes if a window left open near a light, 1000’s of insects can arrive in seconds. It is Florida.
    Without seeing the photos of room, couldn’t the room have been cleaned up ?
    (although insecticide, (apparently designed in WW1 to kill people)) probably worse than a few insects)
    & we all wonder why millions die from cancer ?

    SAFE is always a relative term.

  • Maxwell Smart

    why would a chargeback work ?

  • Maxwell Smart

    where are the photos ? Should be published here. Story is incomplete without them.
    A few insects, could be from some food left a few hours earlier. Insects love crumbs, esp ants & flies.

  • Rebecca

    Absolutely. The second I ran into trouble securing a refund, if dispute the charge. The OP had a letter signed by the person on duty at the hotel that the room was uninhabitable and photos to back it up. She would have zero problem filing a dispute here, because the bank can absolutely secure a chargeback. Plus then the hotel would actually lose a little bit of money – they’re paying the valid chargeback fees. No reason to fight with hotels.com or even the hotel. I wouldn’t have waited for “the manager to return to the office”.

  • The Original Joe S

    To get your money?

  • Mel65

    The author wrote, “After seeing the photos you submitted with your request for help, we fully agree with you that your room was completely unusable.” I’m goimg to assume from that that there is merit to the OP’s complaint. Any bugs in my room would be too many!

  • Maxwell Smart

    if only it was that easy. Banks/credit card companies don’t just do chargebacks because someone says a room as inhabitable. Photos probably insufficient evidence.

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