Reader Question: Adequate Compensation For False Fire Alarm?

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A LoyaltyLobby reader dropped me an email with a question that comes around several times a years on emails and Compensation Clinic-cases “What is the adequate compensation for false fire alarm in the middle of the night?”.

False Fire Alarms

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Here’s the email from the reader:

My question relates to fire drills. I recently stayed at a Marriott property in Victoria and the fire alarm rang at 1 am. It was followed by an announcement to evacuate the building at sub-zero temperatures and they called in the fire department.

It turned out to be a false alarm. The hotel manager on duty was very apologetic and gave a free water bottle to everyone who was waiting outside or in the lobby while the fire department did their inspection and then pronounced it clear. The process took about an hour, but at these early hours, was obviously disruptive to a good night’s sleep.

The following morning, I asked for compensation since it was a false alarm and was offered breakfast, but as a platinum member, I already get a free breakfast. They then gave 1500 points.

On one hand, we don’t want to discourage hotel staff from evacuating when an alarm rings in case it is a real fire, but on the other hand, if it is a false alarm, I would think it is defective equipment.

Proper sleep is why we go to hotels in the first place. Is compensation for something like this appropriate and if so, what should it be?

I guess that we are all glad that these fire alarms are false probably 99,99% of time, right? That makes you wonder, however, what is the cause of these false positives?

The reader correctly points out that the main function of the hotel is to have proper nights sleep. If they throw you out in the middle of the night for an hour in the sub-zero temperature, the night is likely lost for many and the following day unproductive.

The manager was trying to offer something of value that wouldn’t cost the hotel anything such as the breakfast. The cost of 1,500 points for the property is roughly $10.

Considering that the night was ruined, I would say that the adequate compensation would be for the hotel to either waive the charge for the night or issue enough points for free night at the same category property for those guests that would ask.

Marriott properties pay $60 for every 10K in compensation points issued. Just something to keep in mind when negotiating for adequate compensation.

Conclusion

I know that compensation is sometimes divisive issue among our readers and especially when it is false fire alarm related.

There is an issue with false fire alarms with North American hotels though. I am not sure if it is something to do with the guests or up keep with the equipment?

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