Luis Ramirez-de-Arellano has a decision to make, and he needs your help. Last fall, after he checked out of the Homewood Suites Philadelphia on City Avenue, he received a surprise $300 charge on his credit card.
He sent a polite email to the property, asking for an explanation.
Here’s what a hotel representative sent him:
Due to the condition of guest suite #1202 and the stains on the sleeper sofa that are not able to be cleaned and now need to be replaced, we had to incur additional cleaning and replacement costs.
The cleaning of this suite was beyond the normal cleaning incurred after a guest checks out. We have applied a $300.00 charge to your Mastercard.
“I was very surprised,” says Ramirez-de-Arellano.
He remembers the couch. It had a “minor” blemish on the cushion when he checked in.
“I flipped cushion over, other side was fine,” he says. “I didn’t even consider it worth mentioning to front desk.”
He believes the couch had been in good condition when he checked out, adding, “I did not believe any reasonable person would think it needed to be replaced.”
A Homewood Suites representative replied to Ramirez-de-Arellano’s appeal, promising to bring this up with a supervisor. Over the next two weeks, he corresponded with the hotel, asking him for documentation of the damage and to itemize the bill. How much of the $300 was a cleaning charge, and how much covered the new sofa?
By the time he contacted me, there was a long chain of emails between Ramirez-de-Arellano and the Homewood Suites property — and no resolution.
Hilton, which owns Homewood Suites, is normally excellent at responding to customer complaints. I suggested Ramirez-de-Arellano send an appeal to one of its executive contacts. Maybe his request had slipped between the cracks during the holidays? But even the higher-ups didn’t reply in a timely manner, so I decided to contact Hilton on his behalf.
A Homewood Suites manager contacted Ramirez-de-Arellano early this year, promising a resolution soon. Almost six months to the day after he had checked out, the hotel offered to refund him $150 — basically, to split the difference on the bill.
“Part of me thinks it’s not worth the hassle to continue the protractive back and forth,” he says. “Another part, however, knows that charging me $150 is still, bogus given that there was no damage to the couch.”
He wants to know what to do — and that’s where you come in.
Part of me says: Something is better than nothing. The hotel could have stuck to its $300 late charge. Clearly, corporate Hilton didn’t care about the outcome of this case, otherwise it would have supported a speedy resolution of Ramirez-de-Arellano’s dispute. Instead, it did nothing when he contacted it.
But another part of me says: This is bogus. Come on, a $300 cleaning bill? If this had been a legitimate charge from a cleaning service, it would be an uneven number. The figure seems to be arbitrary.
Why couldn’t the hotel send him photos of the damage, or at least an itemized bill? By Ramirez-de-Arellano’s account, it did neither.
Should he accept Homewood Suites’ latest offer?
More to the point, I wonder if we now need to begin taking pictures of our rooms before and after check-out, to avoid this kind of late charge.