Hey Hampton Inn, how do you define a ‘clean’ room?

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By Christopher Elliott

Sandra Han claims her Hampton Inn room wasn’t clean. The Hampton Inn begs to differ. She wants me to step into the middle of it, but I suspect one side is fighting dirty. Maybe both sides.

This is our regular feature that asks you, the reader, to vote on whether I should take a case. But after reading the details, I’m not sure if you’ll think this case is take-able. I’ll let you decide.

The Hans purchased a non-refundable three-night stay through Priceline at a Hampton near Portland.

An ultraviolet light wand to sanitize hotel beds

“My husband almost always uses an ultraviolet light wand to sanitize hotel beds,” she explains. “Under the UV light, our bed sheet showed some clearly visible light brown stains, one about the size of a #10 envelope and the other about the size of a postcard.”

Hmm, really? A portable UV light? I don’t know anyone who does that, but if you’re concerned about hygiene, it makes sense.

“We showed those stains to their front desk staff the next morning, and we got an assurance from their manager of a refund for that night,” she says. “Priceline got in touch with us and confirmed that first night’s refund amounting to about $170.”

Han says she figured that if Hampton reneged on its offer of a full refund, they’d still be happy with one night’s credit since they couldn’t cancel the rooms.

“But on our second night stay, their housekeeping staff did not clean our room,” she says.

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The manager said it was their own fault. The Hans had the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, so the housekeepers couldn’t enter their room to fix the stain. But she says they received no notification, “not even a phone call to our room to ask us if we wanted to change our stained bed sheet or have trash removed.”

Han says she phoned Hilton corporate and that a representative promised a full refund. But then, nothing.

Hampton Inn’s “100% Satisfaction Guarantee,” which promises:

Friendly Service, clean rooms, comfortable surroundings, every time. If you’re not satisfied, we don’t expect you to pay.

That’s our commitment & your guarantee. That’s 100% Hampton. Our 100% Hampton Guarantee® is boldly etched on our front desk so that it is constantly visible to our employees and our guests.

Our guarantee epitomizes the pride we take in our brand, our hotels, and our service to you, our guest. We’ll do whatever it takes to make our guests feel welcome, relaxed, and completely comfortable.

The Hans followed up by email, asking why they hadn’t heard from Hampton, and whether it might be useful to get their lawyer involved.

Hampton offered a curt reply, saying that this was now a legal case, and they would do nothing.

“Shocking and unbelievable excuse to wash their hands of our complaint,” she says.

Han would be happy with a second night’s refund.

“I hope you can help,” she added.

I’m not sure if I can. First, when anyone mentions a lawyer, the case is usually beyond my ability to mediate. But even if you can get past that, I’m not sure if this is advocatable. Han doesn’t dispute leaving the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door on the second day, which prevented the cleaning crew from entering the room. And mentioning the lawyers? Probably not the best idea.

Also, the UV light — to me, at least — seems as if she was looking for trouble. Maybe Hampton tagged her as a complainer and is done dealing with Han. I hope that’s not the case. (Related: A reader booked a non-refundable room by accident.)

Complaints in the travel industry are not new to us. Here’s the best way to get your travel industry complaint resolved. And if that doesn’t work, you know where to find my advocacy team.

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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.

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