Emptying wallet for a noisy room

Q&A

January 20, 2008|By Los Angeles Times

On our 25th wedding anniversary, we decided to splurge and stay at a luxury hotel in Paris. Unfortunately, we were given a room next to a building under construction. The hammering and drilling began at 7 a.m. and lasted all day. A hotel manager offered to move us to another room the next day. This made no sense because we were leaving the next day, so we suggested he adjust the bill or buy our dinner in the hotel restaurant. He said no. We were paying $1,000 a night. What should we have done?

We keep hearing that the euro buys a whole lot of nothing these days, which is exactly what you got. Actually, that's not quite true. You also got a whole lot of attitude.

If you think a grand a night entitles you to special treatment, think again. In the 2007 North America Guest Satisfaction Index Study, J.D. Power & Associates said luxury-hotel guests frequently complained about "staff attitude and staff service." As infuriating as that is, you can't really make a claim because someone has a bad attitude. But you can if someone breaks a contract.

And that's what's happened here, says Al Anolik, a travel lawyer who is co-author of The Frequent Traveler's Guide.

The room had to be habitable and if it wasn't, the hotel should have let the guests know before they left the U.S., Anolik says. "If it's not a proper room, you have to compensate them."

Anolik believes -- although others disagree -- that travelers might have some recourse through small claims court, depending upon the rules in your state. For example, in California, the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act "allows a Californian who has been injured to serve and sue anyone overseas," Anolik says.

To prove your case, he suggests, you could have used a cell phone to call your home answering machine and capture the racket so you would have some kind of record.

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