Marriott Gives Away Guest’s Stuff, Fights Compensation In Court

Hotels frequently offer to store luggage when a guest arrives too early to check in, or when they aren’t leaving town until after check-out time. Some bigger hotels even charge for this. I’d never trust belongings that matter to a hotel’s luggage storage room, and you shouldn’t either.

The Marriott Marquis San Francisco shows us why. Not only did they give a guest’s belongings to someone else, and not only did they refuse to offer any compensation, but when a guest sued and won in court they appealed – and they won. The most important takeaway is that even when the hotel was expressly at fault, without any doubt, for giving away the guest’s luggage the law was on the hotel’s side.

  • In June 2021 a guest tried to check in at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis but their room wasn’t ready. They left their bags with the hotel. The bags weren’t there when he returned.

  • He lost a “Briggs & Riley rollaway bag, a Tumi leather backpack, an iPad Pro, a MacBook Pro, a 4TB hard drive with his social security number and seven years of tax documents”

  • The hotel gave the luggage to someone else – a luggage thief, caught on camera.

    [H]otel surveillance footage shows later that afternoon a man walked into the Marriott claiming he checked his bag but lost his claim check.

    “Remarkably the Marriott let the guy walk into the back room, he pointed at my bags and said those are mine… the guy said, is there any way you can prove it? Do you have tickets? Do you have ID? And the guy said I have none of that, but just mentioned there’s a computer in that bag.”

  • Marriott wouldn’t provide compensation “unless he provided receipts for every item.”

  • The guest claims there was nearly $9000 worth of belongings stolen. He sued in small claims court where the maximum is $5000, and he won.

Marriott appealed the judgment. California’s 1872 Inn Keeper’s statute limit’s a hotel’s liability for a guest’s belongings to $250 per item, and $1000 in the aggregate. Marriott claimed there were ‘two items’ stolen, so they should owe just $500. The law doesn’t increase liability with inflation (since 1872!) and hasn’t been amended since 1980.

Here’s the judge in the case (.pdf) appalled by Marriott.

The facts are undisputed. ..[The guest] checked his baggage, received a claim check and departed. …without seeking any identification, a Marriott employee invited [a luggage thief] intot he baggage room and allowed him to select the baggage he claimed to have checked….Marriott gave the man all Sabouni’s possessions…

Notwithstanding Marriott’s acknowledgment of its fault, rather than compensating its guest for a loss solely attributable to Marriott’s conduct, Marriott…contends its exposure should be limited to $500…This is one fo the rare instances where the law does not allow the court to achieve the equitable result…

The law in California limits a guest to recover $250 ‘per item’ and the judge found there were four ‘items’, awarding $1000 plus interest and court costs, total $1553.

The Hyatt Regency Dallas once took my clothes and personal items out of my room and turned it for the next guest, even though I had late checkout. Fortunately they still had everything, though I was awkwardly handed a plastic bag with the prior day’s underwear and my toothbrush. Anything of value I was actually carrying with me. And they gave me points to cover two nights’ stay at the property without being asked.

While many Marriotts are franchises, this property (owned by Host Hotels) is Marriott-managed. In any case, as a brand Marriott should take the position that guests and their belongings are safe at their hotels and it isn’t appropriate for a hotel to dispute liability when giving away a guest’s belongings and the hotel’s own video demonstrates they did it.

I wouldn’t trust the Marriott Marquis San Francisco with my belongings, but I also wouldn’t trust them in my guestroom either. Hotels give out wrong room keys all the time. Housekeeping is in and out of rooms. This hotel refuses to stand behind their own fault when their own staff are responsible for a guest’s luggage being stolen. And without the risk of liability comes carelessness. Marriott International claims there shouldn’t be liability. That’s troubling.

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. […] The thing is, baggage pickup and delivery is a precision business. It needs to be picked up at the right time, and delivered at the right time. Paying for luggage delivery, lost or delayed bags are not ok. And bags delivered early to your hotel may be a problem, too. You may be charged for storage. They may lose your bags. Marriott even says they’re not liable if they give your bags to someone else, even a thief. […]


  1. This is exactly why Marriott sucks *ss so bad these days. Major corporation actually goes through all this trouble to screw a customer. The loss payout is a write-off for them but they send their army of high paid attorneys to take this poor guy out. Marriott is just rotten from the top down and could care less about their customers…

  2. It definitely happens – even in the hotel room. We were robbed of most of our belongings by a hotel cleaner at the Westin Halifax. After calling the police, filing a police report, calling HQ, and going back and forth with the hotel we got $250 + $10K points from the hotel.

    Didn’t come close to making up for all of our belongings.

  3. On our honeymoon…after traveling all day….then the stress of the wedding the night before….we were pretty tired by the time we got to the hotel & checked in. So we get to the room and drag our luggage in. So shocked to see other guests belongings on both beds. Suitcases open with a Nikon Camera sitting on the end table….M husband said “You’ve got to be kidding! Im not waiting another 30 minutes.” I winked at him and said….”You won’t have to. ” I promptly picked up the phone & explained as we sat on opposite beds….moving someone’s luggage a bit…the hotels grave mistake. Dude at the hotel says “you come down & I’ll give you new keys.” I said “Naw…we are comfortable here and you can bring the keys up….unless you want to explain to the guests who rented this room….how we ended up in here!” Needless to say it didn’t take 5 minutes to get keys delivered to us to an unoccupied room!

Comments are closed.