Reader Question: Bed Bugs At Holiday Inn – Appropriate Compensation?

11 Comments

A LoyaltyLobby reader dropped me an email about bed bug issue at a Holiday Inn hotel in New Jersey where the hotel has failed to pay direct expenses incurred due to the incident.

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Here’s the email from the reader:

I love the newsletter.  As an avid traveler myself, I find the stories within helpful and, many times, funny as well.  I never thought I’d have something to write in about, but recently I had an experience with bedbugs, and I wanted to see what you thought I should do.

Now, I literally spend 352 nights a year in hotels for work, and I’ve never had any issues.  I try to check bedbugregistry before even booking a hotel, and I always check the mattress, nightstand, carpet etc for bugs when I check in.  Maybe it was bound to happen, but I didn’t see anything when I checked.  When I got woken up, I was super itchy.  I had 29 bites all over my body, swollen and bothersome.  I caught a few of the bugs and put them in a plastic bag, but at least one I was unable to catch, and he got away into the folds behind the bed.

I brought the bugs down to the front desk and gave them to the manager on-site.  They immediately moved me into another room, far away from my original room, and I used their housekeeping machines to wash ALL of my clothes, shoes, etc, taking hours and hours.  In the morning, they called a pest control service who checked the original room, and treated my luggage for me, putting them in bags with some chemical.  The pest control guys came back and said they didn’t find anything in the room (must not have looked too hard, because there was at LEAST one running around in there), and by this point everything had been washed and/or treated.

The hotel obviously didn’t make me pay for my stay, and when I checked out I was told that the manager would be in touch about further compensation.  I went to the airport, and in the airport, my ankle began itching.  I pulled back my sock, and there was another bedbug!  I took off the sneakers, threw them and my socks away, bought some flip flops at the airport, and completed my flight to Detroit.  When I got to Detroit, I was obviously still shaken.  Nothing the hotel had done had fixed the problem, so I called a canine unit in Detroit to come to the hotel, as dogs can sniff out live bugs, dead bugs, and even eggs.  They came, checked ALL my stuff, and $500 later gave me the “all clear”.  

Since then, I’ve been in touch with the hotel and IHG properties.  The hotel asked me for receipts for the canine unit, the flip flops, new sneakers, etc.  I sent everything in, and they came back and said that there will not be any further compensation.  They say they didn’t charge me for the room, and they had a pest control unit come and treat my luggage, and that was all they were going to do.  IHG states that because it’s a privately owned hotel, they handle all their own compensation and there’s nothing that IHG or Holiday Inn can do.  To this point I have not been reimbursed for the $500 I spent on the canine unit, the money for the flip flops or the new sneakers, and I have received NO points as compensation for my troubles of being up all night doing laundry, the bug bites that took weeks to heal, or my other issues.

I’m a Spire member with IHG, with over 1.1 million points.  I was expecting better treatment than this – what do you think my options are?  Anything you can suggest?  I’m really still annoyed by this…

Well. I just got hit with the bed bugs by myself the other week at the InterContinental Park Lane in London (read more here). The hotel also called in a pest control company to “investigate” and they couldn’t find any “evidence”.

It would be fair that the hotel would compensate the direct expenses that the reader incurred due to the bed bugs and throw in some points for the inconvenience. Considering that the reader is a Spire Elite, he must spend considerable number of nights with the chain.

I don’t like the fact that IHG Rewards Club strategically claims that they cannot do anything because the hotel is only affiliated with the chain. They should take ownership of the problem if the property fails to do show and deal it with later.

The reader could take the hotel to small claims court to get them to pay expenses involved.

Conclusion

Chain, in this case IHG, should take ownership of these service issues and resolve them. Customer service in Manila just gives a cold shoulder and hopes that the issue goes away.

I hope that the reader has already left appropriate review on TripAdvisor. If he also tries to leave a review on IHG’s own website that deals with bed bugs, one can be 100% sure that it won’t ever be publicized.

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  • inoculate

    Bad handling from ihg

  • notme

    Those look like cockroaches. Bedbugs do not come out when lights are on. Bedbugs are light aversive. His bites could be from cockroaches. At the very least, a cockroach infestation is easier to fix than a bedbug infestation.

  • Ramitran

    Probably just a mention of bedbugs in Tripadvisor would cause them huge losses… So would think that they would compensate a little bit better. They expose guest and his belongins to huge biological contamination and still thinks that just refunding the night is enough… what a load of bullshit. They should pay the fee and offer at least 60k points in compensation.

    • Oh Please

      Even still, this is how unreasonable people can hold hotels (and restaurants) hostage. Personally, when I read reviews, especially where one is really scathing and the others seem positive, I tend to look at how many reviews the person has written, their other reviews and the tone of them as well as the types of places they frequent, along with the things that make them happy and those that upset them and make my own judgment as to whether or not to take them seriously. The writer could state the room number in his review if he really wants to be helpful, instead of sounding like a pompous entitled ass thinking because he has status with the chain, that he should be able to hire a canine unit and go on a shoe shopping spree thinking IHG should cover his tab.

  • Mb

    Holiday inn acted appropriately. For all they know this traveller brought bugs with him, especially finding no evidence of any infestation in room. They did everything that could be expected. No charge, treatment, immeduate pest control, etc.

    Just because someone hired an overpriced dog to make them feel better, in another city no less isnt their problem. At all.

    Sue in small claims court? For what? Notice the belongings were clean, the hotels efforts insured the mans belongings were clean.

    • Tony

      Bedbugs are a nuisiance, but transmit no disease and pose no hazard. Less threatening than a mosquito.

    • QuiteContrary

      Exactly. If the bug sniffing dogs had found something- there’s an argument there, but they didn’t.

  • Whatevs

    I think this guy went a quite a bit overboard with the canine unit (why not call in the SWAT team while he’s at it, along with the A-Team!) and then to toss out his shoes and then buy two more pairs (flipflops AND new sneakers) and expect IHG to cough up and cover his expenses, but in a more reasonable situation, I should think that IHG being the brand, would compensate for reasonable expenses (such as the room and a little more) and then bill it back to their franchisees (individual properties) as not doing so could tarnish their brand name. Guess not.