Falsely billed for room damage

 
Old Jun 11, 14, 10:14 am
  #1  
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Falsely billed for room damage

I recently stayed at the Westin O'Hare and after checking out, I get an additional charge on my room for $500. I call management to ask what the charge is. They say the room had been damaged and send me photos. The room is damaged, but it's not anything we did but they are charging us anyway.

They did a key audit which shows that the only person who saw the room before secruity was us and the cleaning person, so our theory is the cleaning person got fed up and vandalized our room. We have called both the hotel, the hotel's general operations manager, and starwood corporate - none of them sided with us.

Any advice? I would understand them blaming a random customer, but I probably have ~100 lifetime stays and ~200 lifetime nights with no history of problems.
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Old Jun 11, 14, 10:33 am
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Whether you have stayed at the Westin O'Hare 100 times or not, all the property's owners are concerned about is the damage to the room.

When you say, "charge on my room for $500)", I am presuming that your CC has already been debited by that amount. In that case, with the property not budging, your alternatives are:

1. Dispute the additional charge on your CC (but understand that if the peoperty documents the extra charge, you will almost certainly lose). While it's not the end of the road, whatever evidence it is that you have that the room cleaners did this to you, should be included. If you don't have any, forget it. Just sounds paranoid.

2. Sue the property for the money since it's already been debited to your CC.

3. Lump it.
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Old Jun 11, 14, 10:42 am
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Sometimes when checking out, FD will call Housekeeping and ask them to do a final check of the honor bar before they tally up your final bill. Obviously if they did that and no damage was reported, you could be in the clear. Any recollection either way?
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Old Jun 11, 14, 11:01 am
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What exactly is the damage they are billing you for?
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Old Jun 11, 14, 11:41 am
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At a minimum, I would ask for receipts to document the actual cost of repairing / replacing whatever was damaged. $500 is a very arbitrary number. It sounds like a rough estimate of the damage cost.

I am also very curious about the nature of the damage. Is it something that would have been common for an occupant to do or is it vandalism or something? Would there have been noise when the damage occurred? This might be helpful to your case depending on specifics.

If you have honestly been wronged, you need to decide how much it matters to you. Your best course of action might be to just grin and bear it. Amongst other things, SPG could pull your platinum status if you make too big of a fuss, but if you are OK with that, and you are willing to spend some time and energy fighting for the principle here, you have a number of options:

1. Credit card dispute. Should happen immediately.

2. Social media pressure (here, TA, Facebook, etc., etc).

3. Small claims court. File in your home state and name the hotel GM as a defendant personally.
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Old Jun 11, 14, 12:35 pm
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Originally Posted by Soccerdad1995 View Post
At a minimum, I would ask for receipts to document the actual cost of repairing / replacing whatever was damaged. $500 is a very arbitrary number. It sounds like a rough estimate of the damage cost.
There may not be receipts for labor if repairs were performed by inhouse staff.

Originally Posted by Soccerdad1995 View Post
3. Small claims court. File in your home state and name the hotel GM as a defendant personally.
Soccerdad, I'm going to assume that you're not a lawyer.

1. If you're suing the hotel and and possibly the GM (I'll get to him in a minute), you can only file a small claim action against them in their state. At least that's what the Small Claims Procedural Rules provide in nearly all states. It would probably be different if you were to sue SPG, but I don't see that SPG has any possible liability here based on what you've described. It would also be different if you were to file a regular civil action; which you most likely could file locally for you; but then you would be subject to formal procedural and pleading rules and the much higher filling fees.

2. The GM. Does suing the GM add anything to your case or your chances of winning? I suggest that it does not. In Small Claims, the judge is either going to agree with you or not based on what happened. Naming the GM personally doesn't change anything. And it's not like you have to name the GM personally because you need another pocket in case you win. The hotel can afford to pay whatever you win. The hotel and the GM will be represented by the same lawyer. And if you win, the hotel is going to pay you. The GM isn't going to pay anything out of his/her pocket. Naming the GM personally may well require him/her to appear in court personally. That doesn't do anything to increase your chances of winning. If this is about recovering your $500, then don't bother. If this is about revenge for your inconvenience, then that's a different story. Generally, courts don't like revenge litigation.

More to the point, perhaps, is the fact that the GM has no personal liability. Anything which s/he did was in his/her capacity as GM (an employee) of the hotel and not as a private person. Respondeat superior will get rid of any personal claim against the GM in a flash.

Last edited by Dr. HFH; Jun 11, 14 at 1:34 pm
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Old Jun 11, 14, 1:08 pm
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Originally Posted by Soccerdad1995 View Post
At a minimum, I would ask for receipts to document the actual cost of repairing / replacing whatever was damaged. $500 is a very arbitrary number. It sounds like a rough estimate of the damage cost.

I am also very curious about the nature of the damage. Is it something that would have been common for an occupant to do or is it vandalism or something? Would there have been noise when the damage occurred? This might be helpful to your case depending on specifics.

If you have honestly been wronged, you need to decide how much it matters to you. Your best course of action might be to just grin and bear it. Amongst other things, SPG could pull your platinum status if you make too big of a fuss, but if you are OK with that, and you are willing to spend some time and energy fighting for the principle here, you have a number of options:

1. Credit card dispute. Should happen immediately.

2. Social media pressure (here, TA, Facebook, etc., etc).

3. Small claims court. File in your home state and name the hotel GM as a defendant personally.
Under what legal theory can you sue the GM? And, how would you do that if you could, in a state where the GM doesn't reside or personally do business, since that's what personally suing people means.

And, above all else, why would the GM care since his employer has to defend him and pay any judgment if there were one?

There's no shame in not knowing, but why provide the kind of legal advice which makes it less rather than more likely that someone prevails?
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Old Jun 11, 14, 2:11 pm
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Do you clearly recall closing the door when you left? I've become paranoid about some jackass sneaking into my room after I check out and wrecking it on my dime, so I'm really careful to check that the door is locked (more careful than during my stay, which I know is weird).
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Old Jun 11, 14, 2:31 pm
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Originally Posted by HK47 View Post
I recently stayed at the Westin O'Hare and after checking out, I get an additional charge on my room for $500. I call management to ask what the charge is. They say the room had been damaged and send me photos. The room is damaged, but it's not anything we did but they are charging us anyway.

They did a key audit which shows that the only person who saw the room before secruity was us and the cleaning person, so our theory is the cleaning person got fed up and vandalized our room. We have called both the hotel, the hotel's general operations manager, and starwood corporate - none of them sided with us.

Any advice? I would understand them blaming a random customer, but I probably have ~100 lifetime stays and ~200 lifetime nights with no history of problems.
Is there any proof that the photos were of the room you stayed in? What kind of damage? Vandalism is intentional, not just a matter of your suitcase scratching a dresser.
Maybe you could try to find a neutral third party to validate that there is indeed damage and that it is in the room you stayed in.

I can't help but think that this is fraudulent.
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Old Jun 11, 14, 2:37 pm
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I have excellent experiences at this hotel. Sounds like a possible mistake if all involved are honest about this matter.

Originally Posted by Dr. HFH View Post
Sometimes when checking out, FD will call Housekeeping and ask them to do a final check of the honor bar before they tally up your final bill.
Westin ORD rarely, if ever, does that.
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Old Jun 11, 14, 4:24 pm
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This thread makes me want to do a checkout video of the room with the day's newspaper... yeesh.
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Old Jun 11, 14, 6:36 pm
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Originally Posted by DC777Fan View Post
This thread makes me want to do a checkout video of the room with the day's newspaper... yeesh.
For years I've routinely done a video walk through prior to leaving rooms. I usually just turn on the television and flip to CNN or local equivant since it'll have the day and time in the corner of the screen.

I've actually needed the video evidence three times to prove instances the hotel denied.
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Old Jun 11, 14, 6:43 pm
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Just out of curiosity....Did you smoke in a non-smoking room?

Somehow I think we are not getting the whole story.

I'm sure if you called all three of the above mentioned in your OP....someone would have given you an idea of just what damaged you caused.

Last edited by david55; Jun 11, 14 at 6:53 pm
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Old Jun 11, 14, 6:50 pm
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Originally Posted by TheChallenge View Post
I've actually needed the video evidence three times to prove instances the hotel denied.
just out of curiosity, what kind of instances were these?
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Old Jun 11, 14, 7:19 pm
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my guess is that the OP got busted for smoking in the room...unless he clarifies otherwise.

this is just not the type of mistake that good hotels like the westin o'hare makes.
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