When Red Roof Inn charges Mindy Haggerty a cleaning fee for smoking in her room, she refuses to pay. Why? She doesn’t smoke — and claims she didn’t smoke in her room. Can she find justice?
Q: My husband and I recently stayed at the Red Roof Inn in Gallup, New Mexico. We checked in late in the evening. We asked if they had any first floor rooms because we are senior citizens, and they accommodated us. We thought this was very nice.
When we got to the room it had an awful odor, but we didn’t want to complain because they put us on the ground floor, we were tired and we didn’t want to move. So we opened the door and tried to air it out the best we could.
After returning from our trip I checked the credit card activity and noticed that there was a charge of $100 for a smoking fee. This was just half the normal smoking fee. I called a manager at the Red Roof Inn. She said we should have complained when we entered the room and there is nothing she can do about it. She said we were lucky they only charged us half the fee.
I told her we requested a nonsmoking room because we do not smoke. Why would we then smoke in the room? She said the cleaning lady said the room smelled of smoke and so we were guilty of smoking.
We are very puzzled about why we would get this charge. We have stayed in the same hotel before and never had any problems. We are more upset about being falsely accused of something that we did not do and for which we have no recourse. We are starting to think this is some sort of scam. Please help us. — Mindy Haggerty, Pueblo West, Colorado
A: You didn’t smoke in your room at the Red Roof Inn. Therefore, you should not have to pay a smoking fee — or half a smoking fee. Goes without saying, right?
So what went wrong here? Easy. I think you were too polite. When you checked into a room that smelled like smoke, you should have said something. You were still being polite when you complained to me. You referred to it as an “odor.” It was cigarette smoke. Why not call it that?
I think I know why you’re being reluctant. The last time I wrote about smoking fees in hotels, I had the audacity to say that if you smoke in your room, you should pay the cleaning fee. Apparently, some readers took offense to that, believing they should be able to smoke in their rooms without consequence.
But that’s the world we live in.
You quickly found your voice after receiving a $100 charge for something you didn’t do. When the hotel refused to reverse the charge, you complained to anyone who would listen. You posted warnings on several websites and filed a Better