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Like Bed Bugs, Don’t Let The Customers Bite

, , | Right | December 30, 2021

I’m working as a front desk agent in a nice hotel. A housekeeper tidying a room apparently finds evidence of bedbug activity. If you know anything about the hospitality industry, then you know that bedbugs are a fact of life no matter how nice the hotel is; the trick is whether or not you deal with them correctly. The one thing this housekeeper does right is flag the room as needing to be evaluated by pest control.

What they DO NOT do is inform literally anyone else that they have done this. This is especially a problem because the room is occupied, and flagging it in the system locks it down to everyone but management, so the front desk and the guests staying in the room don’t find out about this issue until the guests return and can’t get into the room, and the flag comes up when replacement keys are attempted to be issued.

Naturally, the guests are incredibly upset. We scramble to get them a new room, gather all of their belongings to deep clean for them, and tell them to go purchase whatever they need in the interim with the promise that we will reimburse them for the cost.

Here is where things go sideways. In the chaos, the manager doesn’t think to specify any limit on what these guests can buy, so they proceed to purchase ENTIRE NEW WARDROBES for themselves, which costs in excess of $5,000. They also state that they do not want any of their old belongings back, even if we do deep-clean them, and they leave the next day before any kind of check can be processed.

Still, we know the rules of CYA — Cover Your A** — so we do our due diligence. We try to contact them multiple times, via email, snail-mail, and phone, to send them a check for the clothing they purchased. It’s a lot more than we would normally pay in this situation, but since it was such a colossal mistake on our side, we’re biting the bullet.

They don’t respond to mail or email, and on the few times that we manage to get them on the phone, they claim that the people we want to speak to aren’t home.

We keep their old clothes in Lost and Found, separately tagged and inventoried, just in case they come back.

After six months of this circus, we finally declare that we have acted in good faith and give up. Attempts to deliver the check are halted, and the clothing they left behind is “donated”. I get one of the hoodies!

Of course, only about a month after this decision, the guests try to sue us for the money they spent on their new wardrobe. Since we’ve documented every step of our attempts to pay them, you can imagine how well that fares.

Once that’s tossed, we think it’s finally over, but there is one parting shot to be had. This is relayed to me later, as I am not on shift at the time, but apparently, one of the guests shows up at the front desk asking after a specific hoodie, saying he “forgot” it in the hotel. My manager and one of my coworkers tell him they will look for it in the Lost and Found. Once they are in the back room, this is the conversation.

Coworker: “Doesn’t [My Name] have that hoodie?”

Manager: “Yep.”

Coworker: “Are we going to tell him that?”

Manager: “Nope.”

I still have that hoodie. I’m wearing it as I type this; it’s my favorite.

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