A filthy hotel room and an unhinged hotel clerk conspire to ruin my vacation

By | December 21st, 2016

All Sharon Moe wanted was a clean hotel room for her visit with her parents. All she got was filth and grief. How could a hotel have bad housekeeping, bad customer service, and bad follow-up all at the same time? And how can we help her walk away with a refund?

Question: I booked rooms at the Motel 6 in Prairie du Chien, Wis., through Hotels.com for me and my parents. When we arrived the parking lot smelled like marijuana, and when we got to the rooms we dropped our bags and went off to dinner.

When we returned, I switched on the lights and discovered toothpaste stains on the mirror, stains in the bathtub, and garbage on the floor. The furniture was falling apart and the chair had a huge stain on it. I went to pull back the comforter and there were stains and hairs in the bed. I also found a used earplug under the pillow.

We went to the front desk to tell the clerk that we did not want to stay there any longer. Apparently, the hotel doesn’t staff the desk after a certain time so I had to phone an employee. I told him what happened, and he rudely insisted that the housekeeper had cleaned the room. He added that we would not be able to get a refund, as he would not be able to sell those rooms for that night and would lose the income.

As we were packing up we saw the employee in the lobby. We talked to him and he agreed to a partial refund, but that we would have to contact Hotels.com to initiate the process. He said that Hotels.com would subsequently contact him, and he would tell them to give us a refund. We followed up the next morning, but when Hotels.com called the employee, he told them that the rooms were fine and that no refunds should be given. Hotels.com told us to contact the property ourselves if we had a problem with this. We called the hotel again, and the employee rudely yelled at us and said that no refund would be given.

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After two subsequent calls to Motel 6, all they would offer was a $100 voucher, which I would never use. I am looking for a refund of $290. Could you please help? — Sharon Moe, Excelsior, Minn.

Answer: I’m so sorry to hear that not only were you given an unacceptable room, but also that neither the hotel nor the website stood behind their product and offered you a refund. You were treated poorly, and surely there was something both parties could have done for you.

It’s always complicated when you book travel through a third-party website like Hotels.com, Expedia or Orbitz. Often, this creates accountability issues. It also might actually have been just as cost-effective to book your reservation directly through the hotel. Many hotel chains guarantee you’ll find the same price or lower on their website as you will on third-party websites.

It also wouldn’t hurt to read reviews written by people like yourself on websites like TripAdvisor.com. The property you booked has a rating of 1.5 out of 5 on TripAdvisor.

In this case, Motel 6 should have provided you with a clean room, and, when you complained, the staff should have offered you a room swap or a refund.

Unfortunately, no satisfaction guarantee can be found on Motel 6’s website. There also isn’t a listing of terms and conditions. All that is provided is a toll-free number for help with reservations. That seems rather skimpy.

You could have found a link to the hotel chain’s executive offices and customer service contacts on our website.

Instead you reached out to us directly for help. We contacted Motel 6 on your behalf, and you were refunded for both rooms.

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