Is this the most embarrassing hotel experience ever?

Is this the most embarrassing hotel experience ever? This traveler thinks so.

Elisa Boyd says she’s just endured the most embarrassing hotel experience of her life. The story begins with two friends on a relaxing desert getaway. But it ends with a mortifying accusation by W Hotel employees and a giant post-stay credit card charge.

Now Boyd wants to know if the Elliott Advocacy team can clear her name and get her money returned. Can we do it?

This tale is one more to add to the file of hotel guests blindsided by unexpected and dubious post-stay fees. And it serves as a reminder to make sure to leave your room in the same condition you found it. Otherwise, you might find yourself with hefty and embarrassing charges on your hotel bill — and no way to defend yourself.

A spectacular getaway comes to an embarrassing conclusion

Boyd says she and her friend, Molly, spent four days at the W Hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona, in July. By all accounts, their stay was fabulous. But all the wonderful memories of their short vacation were quickly overshadowed by an embarrassing accusation after check-out.

“At check-out, we reviewed the bill and Molly and I split the cost,” Boyd recalled. “Everything looked fine. Two weeks later, though, Molly found a $750 additional charge from the hotel.”

Boyd assumed it was a clerical error and called the W to have it removed. That’s when a hotel manager informed her that there was no mistake. The charges were a “biohazard clean-up” fee.

Boyd says she couldn’t believe what she was hearing and she was shocked at the absurdity of the situation. She asked the manager what biohazard needed cleaning in their hotel room.

And that’s when she found out exactly what the hotel was accusing the friends of doing.

“I had spilled a bottle of water in the bed, but apparently the cleaners thought it was urine,” Boyd explained. “This is the most embarrassing hotel experience I’ve had. It’s insulting. We are two grown women in our 40’s and well past the bed-wetting stage!”

But despite the protests from Boyd and her roommate, the charge remained on Molly’s credit card.

An incident report and photos to justify a biohazard cleanup fee

When the friends pressed the issue further, the manager promised to send photos and an incident report.

If you’re a regular reader of this site then you know we’ve been tracking these surprise post-stay hotel charges for some time. In most of the cases that we’ve taken, the hotel has not had even a shred of evidence to support the fee.

But in this case, the hotel had documented the “damage” extensively. The manager of the hotel soon provided not only an incident report but a variety of photos. When the friends reviewed the evidence, they agreed that there was some light staining on the sheets. However, they continued to insist to the manager that it was only a water stain.

This is the biohazard checklist from the W Hotel
The “biohazard checklist” of all the items the hotel discarded after the friends checked out.

Will this embarrassing hotel experience ever end?

“That is not urine. It’s a water stain,” Molly wrote to the manager. “It is unfortunate that you mistakenly disposed of perfectly good bedding, but it is not our responsibility to replace it. This entire situation is embarrassing and disgusting.”

The manager of the W was unmoved by Molly’s explanation. He made it clear that as far as his team was concerned, the matter was closed:

I investigated your claim that it was just a water spill. I spoke with the security officer who made the report. Then I talked to the houseman who removed the Biohazard.

All the employees confirmed a strong smell of urine on the wet sheets, pillowcase, duvet, and bed topper. I included our Bio Hazard Replacement Charge Sheet. We cannot reuse any of these items and [the hotel] charged you the cost of replacements.

Both ladies realized that they were getting nowhere with the W Hotel’s manager. This embarrassing hotel experience seemed only to be getting worse with the mounting evidence of photos and reports. That’s when Boyd turned to the Elliott Advocacy team for help.

Can the Elliott Advocacy team help get rid of these unusual charges?

When Boyd’s plea for help landed on my desk, I scrolled through all the correspondence between the hotel and the two ladies. I was impressed by the lengths the hotel had gone in their documentation of the problem. Most of these cases that hit our helpline involve hotels that have done little to no documentation. They’ve helped themselves to the guest’s credit card, but can’t provide any evidence as to why. These cases are easy to resolve.

However, in this case, the hotel provided photos and an itemized list of the damages.

One photo showed a very light circular stain on a sheet. And then there were some other photos of piles of sheets and blankets that I didn’t think showed anything at all.

Her most embarrassing hotel experience? Being accused of urinating in her bed at the W Hotel.
The photographic “evidence” that the hotel says supports a $750 charge

I asked Boyd what she thought caused the faint yellow stain in the bed.

Well, I had taken one of the water bottles and had a swig and laid it next to me. I thought the cap was on, but it wasn’t and it spilled on my side of the bed. Lastly, that small smear is makeup from when we were at the pool. I used some spray for my legs, rear, stomach, and arms that can tend to come off. It’s not a spray tan but Sally Hansen’s leg & body makeup.

This explanation seemed plausible to me.

And I thought that the cost for this biohazard clean-up seemed incredibly high. In fact, I haven’t ever seen a hotel charge such a steep fine. Also of concern was that the hotel had processed the $750 fee without even a call to the guest.

It was time to contact the W Hotel and find out if their team had followed all the correct procedures in this situation.

Asking the W Hotel about these embarrassing charges

I reached out to the W Hotel’s executive team and asked if a $750 charge to a guest’s credit card without any notice was standard practice. And I pointed out that this charge seemed out of line with the types of cleaning fees we typically see.

[your guest]reports that after she checked out, she found an additional $750 charged to her credit card. Subsequently, she learned that staff members said that there was urine in her bed and the clean-up fee/ damage costs totaled $750. Your guest and her roommate reported that they spilled a bottle of water in the bed, but that there was no urine.

The reason that I am contacting you is that the clean-up fee seems entirely out of line with what other hotels are charging for such remediation. Of additional concern is that [your management] charged your guest’s credit card without consultation.

We are requesting a review of what the hotel charged the guest for and a reconsideration of these charges. It would appear the hotel is charging for a variety of replacement costs, but the photos that I have here do not seem to show damage to the comforter or pillowcases.

A (mostly) happy ending to this embarrassing hotel experience

And the next day, came the mostly good news for the two friends. This awkward hotel experience came to an end with the W Hotel agreeing to lower the fine to a much more reasonable $225.

“I feel responsible for the sheets. [It’s fair] that we would pay an acceptable cost for the sheets,” Boyd says. “But we shouldn’t be paying a biohazard clean-up fee since there was no biohazard. The $750 charge was outrageous but more surprising is that they felt they were in the right to charge without any notice, which is scary.”

Both ladies agree that the $225 is an acceptable resolution. They are relieved to put this embarrassing hotel experience behind them. And one thing is sure, the next time Boyd or Molly visit a hotel, they’ll check their water bottle caps and leave the tinted body lotion at home.

How to reduce your chances of getting hit with surprise hotel charges

Unfortunately, hotels seem to be more willing than ever to charge guests post-stay fines. Many of these surprise hotel charges are applied to the credit card days after the guest has left the property — typically with no warning. Here are some things you can do to reduce your chances of getting blindsided by extra charges.

  • When you arrive, review your room for any damages: Your hotel room should get the same type of inspection you’re likely doing before you drive off a car rental lot. Look around the room for damages or missing items. Don’t forget to peek in the minibar and make sure it’s fully stocked. You don’t want to pay for the last guest’s pre-departure snack grab. Let the front desk immediately know if there are any oddities in your room.
  • When you leave, take some photos or a quick video: Taking a quick video to show the condition of your room at departure can help protect you, should you find yourself with surprise hotel charges later. Pay particular attention to the high-value items like the television and any appliances in your room.
  • Alert staff members if you need help cleaning up something in your room: No one likes to be surprised by a mess of unknown origin — especially hotel employees. It’s always better to be proactive if there is a self-created problem in your hotel room. So ask for help. The biohazard confusion here could have been avoided if the friends had alerted the front desk of the water bottle spilled in the bed.
  • Don’t use a debit card to pay for your hotel stay Whether by coincidence or something else, a high proportion of these types of cases involve consumers who’ve used a debit card. Remember, when you hand over your debit card, you’re allowing access to your entire bank account. This can be devastating to a consumer should a hotel help itself to several hundred dollars to cover fines. And remember, debit cards don’t come with the protection of the Fair Credit Billing Act. This can leave a consumer in this situation out of luck.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirportParkingReservations.com

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at AirportParkingReservations.com, ParkSleepFly.com, AirportParking.com, and ShuttleFinder.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at Cavalrytravelinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by G1G.com

Since its inception over three decades ago, G1G has continued to revolutionize the travel insurance industry by being the only aggregator to operate a customer portal, placing all of the user's primary needs in one place. We have continued to innovate and disrupt the market by reimagining the way travel insurance can be delivered to the end user in ways no competition can. Simply put, no one knows the market as well as its founders and no one else shares G1G values and mission.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend