Orkin says there were no bedbugs in our hotel room — so what bit us?

Bedbugs in their hotel room? Not according to Orkin

When George Paddock’s wife woke up in their hotel room with small red welts on her legs, they immediately thought the worst — bedbugs! But, when they reported their concerns to the hotel staff, the room was inspected by Orkin Pest Control. This specialist confirmed that the room contained no bedbugs. So why is Paddock now asking for almost $3,000 in damages?

Paddock’s case illustrates what you can and can’t expect when you fear that the room that you have checked into may already be occupied by other guests — the six-legged, biting kind.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Global Rescue -- Global Rescue is the world’s leading provider of medical, security, evacuation and travel risk management services. Founded in 2004, Global Rescue has exclusive relationships with the Johns Hopkins Emergency Medicine Division of Special Operations and Elite Medical Group. Global Rescue provides best-in-class services that identify, monitor and respond to client medical and security crises. Learn more about Global Rescue.

Hotel room trouble

Paddock recently contacted our advocacy team asking for help. He wanted to receive reimbursement for all of the expenses he said that he incurred as a result of his anxiety-provoking experience in his hotel room.

“Upon awakening the first morning, my wife found herself covered in small red welts or bite marks,” Paddock recalled. “We immediately contacted housekeeping and were moved to another room. Upon checkout, two days later, we were informed that Orkin had inspected our first room and found no infestation.”

Since it was clear to Paddock that the Orkin bedbug specialists had found no bedbugs, what he did next had our team confused.

“When we returned home that afternoon,” Paddock explained, “we disposed of all luggage and clothing, as a precaution.”

Paddock further reported that two days after their return home, his wife went to the dermatologist. He said that this doctor told them that the marks were “consistent with bedbug bites.”

Based on this dermatologist’s opinion, Paddock decided to request reimbursement from the hotel for their luggage, clothes, doctor visit, and the entire hotel stay. Grand total: $2,645.

Hotel management and Orkin confirm no bedbugs found

In its rejection of Paddock’s request, the hotel reiterated that Orkin had established that no bedbugs were present in his hotel room. So the hotel would not be providing reimbursement for these expenses. Nor would the hotel consider a refund of the stay.

Paddock was dissatisfied with this answer, and that’s when he turned to our advocacy team.

I contacted Marriott, the parent company of the hotel, and asked if someone could review this case. (We list Marriott in our company contacts)

Marriott responded by clarifying that:

When they notified the hotel of their concern, the hotel immediately followed all protocols. They moved them to a suite and quarantined the room that the Paddocks had been in until our third-party vendor (Orkin) inspected the room, which was done later that same day.

After an extensive search, the Orkin exterminator found no evidence of bedbugs; and we rely on their expertise.

While we do not believe the hotel had any responsibility for Mrs. Paddock’s distress, we care about every guest’s experience and have offered the guest Starwoods points as a goodwill gesture.

Case Dismissed

And with that, this case landed in the Case Dismissed pile. But, as always, it is important to examine where things went right and where things went wrong here.

First, the Paddocks were correct to immediately inform the hotel that they suspected bedbugs in their room. And the hotel management responded proactively by upgrading the couple to a suite and putting the room under quarantine until Orkin; the bedbug specialists could inspect the situation.

The next day, the management of the hotel informed the Paddocks their hotel room had been confirmed by Orkin to be free of any critters. This should have alleviated their concerns.

Throwing away their belongings “as a precaution” was the moment in which this story went wrong.

Bedbug bites or something else?

Although Paddock insists that the dermatologist diagnosed his wife with bedbug bites, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains why a definitive diagnosis based purely on “welts” would be difficult:

It is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bedbug unless you find bedbugs or signs of infestation. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea — a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating.

Further, the American Academy of Dermatology explains that the welts that appear when bitten by a bedbug are allergic reactions in the “victim” and usually appear “1-14 days” after exposure to a bedbug. Since the Paddocks had just checked in, this information supports the theory that this may not have been a bedbug exposure.

Additionally, there are a number of skin conditions, such as contact dermatitis, that can produce this type of welts.

Because Orkin did not find any evidence of bedbugs in their hotel room, it would seem that the Paddocks disposing of their belongings was premature. Perhaps they erred on the side of caution, but we can’t agree that Marriott should bear the cost of that choice.

While we understand that this experience was stressful for the Paddocks, ultimately it should be comforting for them to know that they were likely not exposed to these creepy little pests in their hotel room.

Do you think that the hotel should have provided additional compensation to the Paddocks?

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18 thoughts on “Orkin says there were no bedbugs in our hotel room — so what bit us?

    1. Yeah, I wondered about that too. Surely some of the clothing was washable and could have been salvaged in that way.

    2. That’s the advice, to avoid carrying bed bugs back into your home, which you definitely do not want. I’m surprised only the wife got bitten though. My first thought was there were bugs and Marriot are just lying, but maybe it was an allergic reaction or something otherwise the husband would surely have been bitten as well.

      1. The advice is throw away anything that can’t be laundered at a high temperature. Which means if you can throw it in the dryer on med high for thirty minutes to an hour and it will kill them.

  1. Logically speaking,a negative test result does not mean there wasn’t a problem, just that the test did not find it. If Orkin was their ‘go to’ bed bug exterminator service, then they may have an incentive to find them. But throwing everything away with a negative test result is a bit much of an expense to cover.

    1. It sort of does. Bedbugs leave unmistakable blood droppings where they’ve been. They have bedbug sniffing dogs and everything.

  2. Just a thought. Could the fearful OP not have had Orkin check her luggage for bedbugs before taking such drastic “precautions”?

  3. Wow! It seems that there are more & more ‘entitled’ OPs in recent days. Another story that makes little sense & another spot on an amateur comedy show is waiting for them.

  4. Worth considering, had their been bed bugs? I’m thinking they would have bit both people in the room, in the bed, not just one.

    1. I can’t understand this either. If they both slept in the room, but the husband had no bites, it seems implausible that the room had bedbugs. I also believe the hotel called Orkin and they found no bedbugs.

  5. I get the concern over bedbugs, but why not stop by a laundrymat or dry cleaner, have the clothes cleaned and dried at a temperature high enough to kill the bugs (maybe dump the suitcases if they can’t be cleaned). Throwing the clothes away seems unreasonable.

  6. The first thing I do when checking into a hotel is to pull the mattress away from the box spring and check for “critters” on the box spring edges and along the mattress seams.

    Perhaps she was allergic to the detergent in the sheets. If it was bedbugs wouldn’t Mr. Paddock have been bitten too?

  7. Given how bedbugs get spread around – it was a wee bit silly for them to just pack up and move to the suite. If they were concerned their belongings had been invaded by the critters, this is the point, you check, do the laundry, etc before moving to a new room – taking them with you. IF someone truly believed it was bedbugs, they would not have done what this person did and wait until they got home to throw out everything. Makes zero sense – to me, anyway

  8. Although something apparently happened, the hotel followed proper procedures and the guests did not. Being concerned enough about bedbugs to throw everything out once going home – and to have not done anything prior just does not make sense. Although well intentioned, it was certainly irrational and something the hotel should not be responsible for. Indeed, if the issue was caused by bug bites external to the hotel or some issue, the hotel already went to significant expense possibly through no fault of their own.

  9. I tend to side with the complainant but, to me, this one clearly falls on the hotel’s side. It seems like they did everything correctly.

  10. So many options besides bedbugs could have caused her bumps and welts that I find it odd that when ONLY the wife was affected, they immediately thought bedbugs. I frequently get itchy and hivey when I stay in hotels and I’ve kinda self diagnosed it as the high amounts of bleach many of them use in their bedding. Also, for some reason, I remember reading that bedbug bites typically appear in a straight line and often .. on the stomach, I think (?)

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