Housekeeping Set Me Up! My Room Looks Like Murder Scene And The Hotel Wants A Cleaning Fee.

A hotel guest reports that they left their room in perfectly normal order when they checked out. On their way down the hall they handed their key to housekeeping. But after their stay the property charged them a $150 cleaning fee – and sent them photos.

And who boy, the photos are something, with hot sauce everywhere in the room – on the bed and bedding and even on the wall. It looks like blood!

The guest says they did have hot sauce in the room, but they left it in the refrigerator. They’re claiming the Shaggy Defense: wasn’t me.

The consensus online where this reported seems to be that the guest did it. There are photos. But ultimately this is ‘he said, she said’. The photos show the condition of a room, was it even their room? And when were the photos taken? What happened between the time when the guest checked out and the photos were taken? Could housekeeping have taken the bottle of hot sauce out of the refrigerator and accidentally spilled it all over – blaming the guest to protect themselves?

There’s simply no way to know. Some advice has been to dispute the charge with the guest’s credit card company. That’s one approach and worth doing, but it’s not a slam dunk. On the one hand, they should have a folio with the charges they’ve agreed to. The $150 won’t be on it. The hotel can’t prove the guest specifically agreed to that amount, though they’ll have terms showing the guest effectively agreed to be charged cleaning fees for unusual damage to a room and its contents.

And credit card companies don’t always side with their cardmembers, sometimes because of their interpretation of the facts and other times because of how little they invest in reviewing claims. If the hotel provides pieces of paper to dispute a dispute, that can sometimes be enough. The credit card company isn’t the last word for someone that wants to push it, but in practice it often is.

I’d actually call the hotel to discuss the charge. Deny responsibility, if it’s true that the room wasn’t left the way the photos show. The property may not pursue the cleaning charge if there’s a plausible narrative about how the guest isn’t at fault, and if the hotel is going to have to invest in administrative followup to enforce the charge. That may cost them more than the $150!

If I had to guess, at a minimum the top was left unscrewed on the hot sauce, a mess the guest left waiting to happen.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Very suspicious IMHO. First of all who gives the key to housekeeping? They have a master key. Just throw it away or, if you want, turn it in at the front desk. Secondly, what incentive would housekeeping have to mess up your room and create more work for themselves? Absolutely none unless there was some type of interaction between the guest and housekeeping like assault, berating her (assume it was a woman) or making a pass at her.

    Finally, I have traveled extensively for almost 40 years and spent many thousands of nights in hotels. Not to say it can’t happen but I have never heard of anything like this before. Even if housekeeping did use the room (to sleep, have a fling with a friend, etc) you would think they would keep it quite and not create more of a mess than necessary.

  2. I was once charged a fee for smoking in my hotel room even though my we are not smokers. I called the hotel to complain and they stated that there was evidence of smoking in the room. I ultimately offered to provide a doctor’s note to prove that we are not smokers and the hotel begrudgingly removed the charge but they were not apologetic or gracious about the error.

  3. The story could be fake BS that we see so much of today but I’m adding the task of taking “time stamp” photos of my hotel rooms now along with rental cars when I drop them off. Sad

  4. Reader AC’s comment above really made senses.

    Some (or maybe all) hotels have cameras in the hallway. So the hotel can view to see what time the housekeeper enters the room for cleaning. If only few minutes after, she reports right away the room condition, then it must the guest. Obviously, if the housekeeper sees a dirty, horrible condition like this, she would not just do a job and report 12-hour later.

  5. Is it seriously getting to the point where we need to take pictures of our hotel rooms as we leave just like we do rental cars?

  6. I would buy it is an accident if just in one place, but all over multiple pieces of furniture and the wall is a bit much for just a loose top, and most hot sauce bottles have a flow limiter on the top anyway. Fouling one piece of furniture perhaps to believe as an accident and should just fess up to it. But, you never know. A friend of mine who is a shift manager at a Hampton Inn showed me photos (I could have done without) of the room of a very nice businesswoman who left the room in immaculate condition, even making the bed up nearly perfectly… except for one long turd tucked into the covers like it was taking a nap.

    I had a horrible trip once where I got sick on a trip and woke up being very ill, including blood, in the hotel bed. I immediately stripped the bed and called the front desk. I figured I was in for a cleaning charge. The night clerk came upstairs and collected the sheets and helped make up the bed with new ones. Told me absolutely no cleaning charge because 1.) they were more concerned with what they could do for me, and 2.) I called them rather than just leave it like apparently more than a few people do.

  7. Do people really take photos of hotel rooms? Spent thousands of nights in one and never had an issue. Also I don’t take photos of rentals. National Executive Emerald aisle for 20 years and never had a problem.

    Lots of paranoid people. Guess you will look for black helicopters next! SMH

  8. What hotel was it? I travel alot and need to know if I should take a video before checking out.

  9. @Retired Gambler

    I take a photo of a rental of the outside and of the dash showing fuel level and mileage if I have to drop somewhere after/before hours. I at least take the dash photo if they aren’t going to give me a receipt immediately either physically or in email. I have had once or twice with National where they didn’t check the car in and tried billing me extra days (got those removed – they found the car in their lot one time and another when someone else tried to rent it). If I have to rent from Enterprise (never my first choice), I do take photos. I’ve had them try and nail me for 1/8 of a tank of gas when they gave it to me on fumes. And in fact my rental last week with Hertz, the entire 36 hours I had the car, the app was asking me to scan a car to start my rental.

  10. Readers who insinuated that the maid was a culprit lost their marble in their brain. What could a maid gain? She had to clean harder and longer to bring the room back to its satisfactory spotless condition without earning double or triple wage. Also, housekeepers have half an hour at most to clean a room or a suite. Perhaps it only happened in this country. There are countless things that happen today never took place in the past. The majority of the crooks and liars who inflict unjust damages to others are people who have resources, leverage and knowledge to do so. Not the working poor. A hotel office employee will view a camera surveillance before dinging the guest for extra fee? Seriously??? Ain’t happen anywhere.

  11. I had something similar happen last summer at a Fairfield Inn. I have a service dog and have Never had a problem with my dog. I told the hotel when I was checking out that I had killed not one but two spiders in my bed. After I checked out they charged me almost 300 dollars and said they had to throw away the bedding because the dog urinated on it which was not true. The hotel was no help. Marriott gave me points and I got the charges reversed by my credit card
    Bottom line I was set up by housekeeping. It does happen.

  12. If the hotel charges an extra cleaning fee because the room is a huge mess does some of that go to housekeepers who clean it up? That would be an incentive for housekeeping to mess it up.

  13. At Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport I was charged for taking wine and cookies from the minibar when I hadn’t touched the minibar. The charge appeared a couple of days after I checked out. I took it up with the manager, and after a lot of back and forth the charge was reluctantly removed. Left me thinking what’s to stop housekeeping from helping themselves to the minibar and saying the guest did it …

  14. I doubt Housekeeping would create more of a mess that they would have to clean up.
    However, I have never heard of giving the room key to “housekeeping” either. Perhaps they gave the key to someone not associated with the hotel or at least not with housekeeping and that person took the opportunity to access a free room?

  15. Fun times! Now in addition to washing the dishes and vacuuming our AirBnb and videoing our entire rental car before and after leaving the lot we can also video our hotel room before checking out. Because the guest is ALWAYS WRONG

  16. Here’s why it could be possible that it ISN’T the guest’s fault… I have a rather “mischievous” friend who attended an out-of-town concert with me and once in the hotel room, realized that the connecting room door was unlocked. He thought it would be funny to take the coffee pot into the bathroom and take a big, honkin’ dump into it and put it back under the coffee maker.

    And no, we’re not really friends any more…

  17. Here’s why it could be possible that it ISN’T the guest’s fault… I have a rather “mischievous” friend who attended an out-of-town concert with me and once in the hotel room, realized that the connecting room door was unlocked. He thought it would be funny to take the coffee pot into the bathroom and take a big, honkin’ dump into it and put it back under the coffee maker.

    And no, we’re not really friends any more.

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