Is this enough compensation? A $10 voucher for a filthy hotel room

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By Christopher Elliott

Days Inn doesn’t exactly have a reputation for sparkling clean rooms and five-star customer service. Then again, Alyssa Erikson didn’t choose the hotel — Priceline did when she booked it through the site’s popular “Name Your Own Price” service.

She ended up with a room at the Days Inn Davis, Calif., which gets so-so reviews.

Erikson explains what happened after she checked in.

As I readied the pullout couch for my daughter, I questioned if the sheets had been changed or cleaned. There was an old toy, the sheets were rumpled, and had a few crumbs on them.

It was late and my daughter was sleeping, so I gave the hotel the benefit of the doubt that the sheets were clean.

In the morning, I got in the shower and saw an old bar of soap with a hair in it and hair on the shower wall. So, clearly it wasn’t clean. I got out and went to the front desk (dressed, of course).

The manager was surprised that there was a pullout couch, stating that they had gotten rid of all of them. So probably (from her), it wasn’t clean. Basically, she told my husband and me that she couldn’t give us a refund because our room was prepaid through Priceline. Call Priceline and they would issue a refund, she said.

Erikson phoned Priceline, but it did her little good. The online agency contacted the hotel and then sent her a form email that said she didn’t lodge her complaint during her stay — which wasn’t true — and so they wouldn’t issue a refund.

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I called the manager and spoke with her and she basically gave me about 500 different reasons she couldn’t refund our stay — one of which was that I should have inspected the room and shower when we checked in, and if it wasn’t up to our standards, then complain at that time.

I told her that we spoke with her immediately after discovering the dirty shower. I called Priceline again and they told me that they are unavailable to verify whether or not we lodged a complaint during our stay, so they can not do any more for my complaint.

Complaints to Days Inn at the corporate level and the Better Business Bureau have yielded nothing. The Days Inn property offered Erikson a $10 voucher and Priceline kicked in a “$10 off” for a five-night hotel booking for a future purchase. (Related: Ridiculous or not? Hotels don’t always change sheets between guests.)

“I’m not seeking anything unreasonable,” she told me. “I think a refund — or even a partial refund — is fair.”

My advocacy team and I had a similar situation yesterday, where a hotel guest used the room but was unhappy with the service. Since Erikson only stayed at Days Inn in Davis for one night, there was very little the hotel could do to “fix” the issue, other than instruct housekeeping to give the room some much-needed attention. (Here’s our guide to findingthe best hotel room.)

I’m unsure of this one. I think Days Inn and Priceline could have handled her complaint better, but I don’t know how much more they could have done. Then again, if it was my daughter sleeping on dirty sheets, I’d be pretty steamed. Wouldn’t you? (Related: Hey Hampton Inn, how do you define a ‘clean’ room?)

What do you think?

Update: (2 p.m.) I’ve asked Priceline about this case. Its records say the Erikson requested an early check-in, and was given a room. “Sometimes, they don’t have time to clean those rooms,” a Priceline representative said. According to the hotel’s records, she didn’t mention anything about the condition of the room until she checked out.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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