What should I do about this surprise incidental charge from Days Inn?

Mattress Firm bed is sagging

After Joel Koehn checks out of a Days Inn property in St. Paul, Minn., the property has a surprise for him: a $150 fee to clean the bed. Does he have to pay this surprise incidental charge from Days Inn?

Question

I recently stayed at Days Inn in St. Paul, Minn. It was not a pleasant experience. The motel was dirty and stinky. I had to get my room key reset every day or else it wouldn’t work, which was inconvenient. Their staff also was not very friendly and the morning I checked out they were not at the front desk to help me but were outside smoking.

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A few days after my stay, I noticed I had a $150 charge on my credit card from Days Inn. I called the motel, and a representative told me that the surprise incidental charge from Days Inn was cleaning charge. He said there was blood all over the sheet and pillow in my room.

When I left, I didn’t notice any blood anywhere. I asked Days Inn for pictures and they sent me a picture of just a little blood on some sheets. But the hotel did not provide proof that it was from my room.

I believe Days Inn charged me just to make some extra money. If they are going to hold their guests to such a high standard and charge them when something happens that they didn’t know about, they need to hold the rest of the motel to the same standard. Why not keep it clean and smelling better and also have nicer friendlier staff and room keys that work for more than one day?

I would like a complete refund of surprise incidental charge from Days Inn. Can you help? — Joel Koehn, West Union, IA

Answer

If Days Inn can’t prove you bloodied the sheets in your room, you shouldn’t have to pay $150. And even if it can, I think the way it handled your charge leaves something to be desired. The hotel should have contacted you to discuss the state of the bed, and only after showing you proof of the damage should it have charged you a cleaning fee. Instead, it simply charged your card.

That happens not just with hotels, but other companies as well. Really drives me crazy.

Days Inn doesn’t disclose its $150 cleaning fee on its website. But I took a look at the photos it sent. There are no timestamps and nothing that would indicate the damage happened in your room, such as a room number or a geotag. It didn’t send you an incident report, either. Days Inn is simply asking you to believe it.

I quizzed you about your stay. Did you have any medical episodes while you were there? Any other guests in the room? You didn’t have as much as a nosebleed, and there were no additional guests. I’m suspicious of Days Inn’s cleaning charge.

How to fix a surprise incidental charge from Days Inn

I think a politely worded email to Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Days Inn’s corporate parent, might have helped. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the top executives on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. If they didn’t respond, you could have — and should have — disputed the extra charges on your credit card.

Now, I’m not saying cleaning fees are not legit. If someone trashes a hotel room, then the property should be able to charge you for the cleanup. But Days Inn didn’t meet even the most basic threshold for proving the bloody sheets were from your room.

I contacted the company about your surprise incidental charge from Days Inn. It refunded your $150 as a “goodwill gesture.”