Mini-bar incident

 
Old Apr 4, 01, 9:18 pm
  #1  
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Mini-bar incident

As I wrote in a earlier message a while back, I stayed at the Sheraton Bal Harbour in Miami March 9th for my free friday awards. While when I got home, I found a $360 bill on my credit card. Calling starwoods reveal that this was for the minibar charges. It appears that most of the drinks in the minibar was gone.
Now that is very strange, I have stayed in Starwoods properties on average about 70 nights per year for the last 3 years, and in total spent over 100 nights in hotels in general per year, not once have I ever used their mini-bars.
On this particular stay I didn't even open the mini-bar at all, checked into the hotel around 3:00 pm, went to the beach around 4:00 pm till 7:00 pm , and showered/changed, and went to south miami beach until well into 3:00am, and checked out of the hotel around 6:00 am...What time did I have to consume $360US worth of alcohol?
I know I should decline the mini-bar keys to avoid possibility of this, but this time I was just too tired to bother asking.
I did noticed that when I check in, I had 1 mini-bar key as part of the key packages, when I returned later that night, I had 2 mini-bar key, the original was in the package, and there was another on the desk. At the time I thought I forgot the second key. But after this it seems very suspious.
Either, the hotel did not check the mini-bar after the last guest(not likely), or the service person came into my room during the turn-down service and emptied the mini-bar, leaving the 2nd key behind.
At any rate, what are the chances of disputing this charge with the hotel? So far it doesn't look like they are willing to do anything about it.. Looks like I learned a big/expensive lesson here.
For anyone going to the Sheraton Bal Harbour, I would say becareful of your room's items, and your personal belongings while you are out of the room. I don't trust the staff at all!!! I hope this is isolated for this hotel and the region, and not consistent with starwoods property, but this is the first time I have experienced a situation like this. I am currently spending 10 nights in Sheraton hotels around Palo Alto, and I am making sure I don't leave anything out in the open. I usually leave my laptop on the desk when I leave the room, not anymore..

Lessons learnt
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Old Apr 5, 01, 1:21 am
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I was at the Essex House recently, and I only opened the minibar to refridgerate a sandwich, and sure enough, I got billed for almost $15 for minibar charges. I called the front desk and they removed it without a large hassle.
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Old Apr 5, 01, 1:21 am
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d'oh...how'd that post twice?

[This message has been edited by markbach (edited 04-05-2001).]
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Old Apr 5, 01, 3:40 pm
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apparently stuff gets stolen out of miami hotels all the time - of course this can happen anywhere, but i hear it's particularly bad in miami

beware...
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Old Apr 5, 01, 4:20 pm
  #5  
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Originally posted by Commie:
As I wrote in a earlier message a while back, I stayed at the Sheraton Bal Harbour in Miami March 9th for my free friday awards. While when I got home, I found a $360 bill on my credit card. Calling starwoods reveal that this was for the minibar charges. It appears that most of the drinks in the minibar was gone.
Now that is very strange, I have stayed in Starwoods properties on average about 70 nights per year for the last 3 years, and in total spent over 100 nights in hotels in general per year, not once have I ever used their mini-bars.
On this particular stay I didn't even open the mini-bar at all, checked into the hotel around 3:00 pm, went to the beach around 4:00 pm till 7:00 pm , and showered/changed, and went to south miami beach until well into 3:00am, and checked out of the hotel around 6:00 am...What time did I have to consume $360US worth of alcohol?
I know I should decline the mini-bar keys to avoid possibility of this, but this time I was just too tired to bother asking.
I did noticed that when I check in, I had 1 mini-bar key as part of the key packages, when I returned later that night, I had 2 mini-bar key, the original was in the package, and there was another on the desk. At the time I thought I forgot the second key. But after this it seems very suspious.
Either, the hotel did not check the mini-bar after the last guest(not likely), or the service person came into my room during the turn-down service and emptied the mini-bar, leaving the 2nd key behind.
At any rate, what are the chances of disputing this charge with the hotel? So far it doesn't look like they are willing to do anything about it.. Looks like I learned a big/expensive lesson here.
For anyone going to the Sheraton Bal Harbour, I would say becareful of your

Lessons learnt
I would absolutely dispute it w/ the cc issuer, with Starwood Corporate and write the hotel for the record saying what you have said here. I might also (for that large a charge) write to Conde Nast TRAVELER Magazine Ombudsman - they tend to answer letters for situaitons many people might find themselves in and this certainly seems like one of them..

good luck..
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Old Apr 5, 01, 8:25 pm
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I agree that you should fight this. Start with Starwood. They will probably say to contact the hotel. Call your credit card and tell them that it's an unauthorized charge and that you are disputing it.
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Old Apr 5, 01, 9:47 pm
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markbach: Please describe the sandwich, for the benefit of the jury.
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Old Apr 5, 01, 10:28 pm
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Rather than spend alot of your time on this issue let your credit card company do it in your behalf as NYC1 suggests.

I think you will easily win.
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Old Apr 5, 01, 11:07 pm
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Originally posted by RichG:
markbach: Please describe the sandwich, for the benefit of the jury.
It was 1/2 of a Corned Beef on Rye sandwich from the Stage Deli. (See photo sa007.jpg on here (only the second half, the rest of the partial half got eaten shortly after that picture.))


[This message has been edited by markbach (edited 04-05-2001).]

[This message has been edited by markbach (edited 04-05-2001).]
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Old Apr 5, 01, 11:23 pm
  #10  
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9/10 Really great looking sandwich, missing large pickle.
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Old Apr 6, 01, 12:07 am
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Just brought to mind our cruise on the Voyager of the Seas out of Miami with the electronic billed mini bar. We put a couple cans of Coke on the top of everything inside to cool and everytime the ship moved they rolled slightly against the bottles of nuts and Cha-Ching $8 a hit for $160!! I noticed the charge on my tv billing screen and called in horror to find out just what it was for, they did remove the charges, and I noticed that on their sister ship the Elplorer, there was more room for personal items since other prople were taking out everything to store their own stuff!! Cha-Cing$$
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Old Apr 6, 01, 12:07 am
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Just brought to mind our cruise on the Voyager of the Seas out of Miami with the electronic billed mini bar. We put a couple cans of Coke on the top of everything inside to cool and everytime the ship moved they rolled slightly against the bottles of nuts and Cha-Ching $8 a hit for $160!! I noticed the charge on my tv billing screen and called in horror to find out just what it was for, they did remove the charges, and I noticed that on their sister ship the Explorer, there was more room for personal items since other prople were taking out everything to store their own stuff!! Cha-Cing$$
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Old Apr 6, 01, 6:49 am
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Great lesson, to decline the mini bar keys. Avoid the possiblity of unauthorized usage by parties unknown.
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Old Apr 6, 01, 9:36 am
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And, when you decline the minibar keys, make sure they note it in your record.

Hotels often do not check the minibars each and every day (but they say they do ) So, you may have the last occupants minibar charge on your own bill. Still, unless its 2am and there is nothing around your hotel, that stuff is way too expensive

Another Tidbit: The minibar really shouldnt be used as a fridge. It goes through a defrost cycle to keep the cans from exploding, so the stuff isnt cold all the time. Yes, good for cokes, but not good for milk or medicines.
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Old Apr 6, 01, 9:46 am
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Originally posted by StacyCat:
Another Tidbit: The minibar really shouldnt be used as a fridge. It goes through a defrost cycle to keep the cans from exploding, so the stuff isnt cold all the time. Yes, good for cokes, but not good for milk or medicines.
I hope that's not true of all minibars ... at the Portofino Bay Hotel and Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando, FL, milk is one of the items in their minibars ...
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