Why should I pay for my stay in a bedbug-infested hotel?

When Julia Ingle books a four-day stay at a Days Inn in San Antonio through Hotwire.com, she isn’t expecting a broken box spring, bloodstained sheets and bedbugs. But that’s exactly what she gets. What she doesn’t get is a refund from Days Inn. Can our advocates help her get compensated for what she got?

Question: I am trying to get a refund for a hotel room I booked through Hotwire. The room had bedbugs everywhere. I left with several bites and had to throw out several expensive items including my suitcase. I booked four nights but had to leave after three because the conditions were so bad. I spoke with representatives from both companies, who told me they could not help me and I would not be getting a refund. I am very disheartened by this experience. I want a refund for my stay. Can you help? Julia Ingle, Pacific Grove, Calif.

Answer: We can’t imagine anything more disgusting than finding bedbugs in your hotel room, except for when the hotel refuses to adequately compensate you for the stress and inconvenience. That’s incomprehensible and disgusting.

You did exactly what we recommend to consumers on our website every day, and that was to self-advocate. First, you complained directly to the hotel’s front desk staff. Instead of immediately resolving the problem, the clerk told you that you would need to speak to the manager who would be in later. When you asked if you could change rooms, his reply was a lackadaisical “possibly.”

When you didn’t hear back from the manager that day, you returned to the front desk and spoke with another hotel staffer who informed you that the manager would not be in until the following day. Exasperated with the hotel’s lack of customer service, you and your colleagues, who experienced similar infestation issues, packed your items and left the hotel a day early. You informed the front desk staff, who did not apologize or offer to refund your money.

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You then used our executive contact pages to send a concise, polite email to both Hotwire and Wyndham Hotel Group (the parent company of Days Inn) and included pictures, along with a request for a refund of the cost of your stay. This would have been reasonable under the circumstances, if you had checked out after one night of those deplorable conditions. However, you and your colleagues stayed for three nights of your four-night reservation, which might have weakened your case somewhat.

The reply you received from Wyndham referred you to the property’s franchisee, while informing you that they had “notified the owner/operator of this facility and conveyed our expectation that he/she take steps to address the situation adequately, and asked that they contact you directly to discuss the situation.”

In response to the notification from corporate, the franchisee in San Antonio credited you 45,000 reward points. So when Hotwire contacted Days Inn, they said that the issue had been “resolved” because of the credit and they were unable to give you a refund. You explained that you would much rather have the refund than the credit, but the hotel refused. That’s when you turned to our advocates for help.

We reviewed your case and your correspondence to Hotwire, Days Inn and Wyndham. We asked if you had documentation from the Days Inn that the 45,000 point credit was the limit of their settlement. Our advocates wanted to be able to document that was not a settlement for your troubles from Wyndham corporate.

You contacted Wyndham to request the pertinent information be sent to you in an e-mail that you would then forward to our advocates. Apparently, that request was the tipping point. Within hours you informed us that you had spoken to Wyndham, Days Inn and Hotwire, and collectively they had agreed to give you a full refund of $593, which they told you that you should receive in five to seven business days.

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We’re happy about the positive outcome of your case. It demonstrates, once again, the power that self-advocacy and a persistent consumer have in obtaining results.

Chip Hiebler

Chip enjoyed a successful career in the IT field. Now he's retired and splits his time between experiencing destinations and cultures beyond his home in Baltimore and generally having fun. He currently supports the mission of Elliott.org as the co-director of the research department.

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