Bogus smoking charge

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Jan 25, 2017
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#1
Hi good morning. I was previously charged a smoking fee at a holiday inn express located 323 north zeeb road, ann arbor michigan, and I was floored because i have never been a smoker, so i did a little research on how many people receive bogus smoking charges and I couldnt believe how many articles i stumbled across. I have spoken with front desk on two seperate occasions. Never the manager though. The first person i spoke to informed me that there was a marijuana smell in the room (but not a smoke smell) so they charged me with a smoking fee. 2nd person told me after they found dispensary information that the front desk printed for my friend at the time I checked in, they then noticed a smell of marijuana but not smoke. They claim to have pictures of supposed ashes, which they refused to send me copies of, I offered to drug test urine blood and follicle, offered to have the walls, mirror, ceilings, etc swabbed as proof and they said it wouldn't help get my money back, so my question is: how likely is it that i will get my 250.00 back? I strongly feel money is a motivational factor based on the dispensary information they found and it seemed like an easy win for them. Who would typically win in a dispute in a casw like this? My stay was jan 14th-16th and I paid cash upon check out and recieved a bill 2 days later stating they charged my credit card. I have never had to dispute anything before so what can I expect? Right now I have a provisional credit issued by my bank.
 
Feb 9, 2016
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#2
We typically encourage consumers to start letter writing with the commercial company before they initiate a charge back as we like to encourage the parties to work it out amicably.

Since you've initiated a chargeback, there is nothing to do except wait and see if your credit card company closes the dispute in your favor.

Right now your credit card company is going to issue communication to the holiday inn express asking for proof and verification that the charge is warranted. If HIE doesn't reply, or replies but doesn't meet the standard of proof required to substantiate the charge, you will win.

I would suggest you call your credit card company and ask them what YOU need to do in order to supply proof that you did not smoke, are not a smoker, etc. I would be upfront offering them to purchase and take a drug test, and submit it as proof, etc. They'll probably record that on your account.
 
Aug 28, 2015
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#3
Hi good morning. I was previously charged a smoking fee at a holiday inn express located 323 north zeeb road, ann arbor michigan, and I was floored because i have never been a smoker, so i did a little research on how many people receive bogus smoking charges and I couldnt believe how many articles i stumbled across. I have spoken with front desk on two seperate occasions. Never the manager though. The first person i spoke to informed me that there was a marijuana smell in the room (but not a smoke smell) so they charged me with a smoking fee. 2nd person told me after they found dispensary information that the front desk printed for my friend at the time I checked in, they then noticed a smell of marijuana but not smoke. They claim to have pictures of supposed ashes, which they refused to send me copies of, I offered to drug test urine blood and follicle, offered to have the walls, mirror, ceilings, etc swabbed as proof and they said it wouldn't help get my money back, so my question is: how likely is it that i will get my 250.00 back? I strongly feel money is a motivational factor based on the dispensary information they found and it seemed like an easy win for them. Who would typically win in a dispute in a casw like this? My stay was jan 14th-16th and I paid cash upon check out and recieved a bill 2 days later stating they charged my credit card. I have never had to dispute anything before so what can I expect? Right now I have a provisional credit issued by my bank.

Stop offering to get a drug test as it won't prove anything. Since you say your friend planned to purchase marijuana, for all the hotel knows, your invited friend smoked marijuana in the room. The hotel's position is that it smelled the marijuana itself, not the smoke? That could be true. Does the hotel have a policy prohibiting legally obtained medical marijuana in its rooms? I have no idea where Michigan is on this issue or the hotel policy in particular. I imagine you can't have illegal items in your room, however if they want to charge $250 as punishment, then it's probably written somewhere.

Your credit card will just ask the hotel what the $250 was for and the hotel will reply with a copy of its smoking policy and you will lose the first round of your dispute. However, since you say the accusation is completely untrue, then the hotel may back down just issue the refund. It's hard to predict. Unsmoked marijuana still has an identifiable smell. However, it is unusual for a hotel to charge the fee just bc it sees a pack of cigarettes, for ex, but doesn't notice any smoke.

I would ask whether the hotel rented out the room to another guest that night. The fee is intended to compensate for extra cleaning and possibly taking the room out of inventory that night.
 
Jan 25, 2017
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#4
Stop offering to get a drug test as it won't prove anything. Since you say your friend planned to purchase marijuana, for all the hotel knows, your invited friend smoked marijuana in the room. The hotel's position is that it smelled the marijuana itself, not the smoke? That could be true. Does the hotel have a policy prohibiting legally obtained medical marijuana in its rooms? I have no idea where Michigan is on this issue or the hotel policy in particular. I imagine you can't have illegal items in your room, however if they want to charge $250 as punishment, then it's probably written somewhere.

Your credit card will just ask the hotel what the $250 was for and the hotel will reply with a copy of its smoking policy and you will lose the first round of your dispute. However, since you say the accusation is completely untrue, then the hotel may back down just issue the refund. It's hard to predict. Unsmoked marijuana still has an identifiable smell. However, it is unusual for a hotel to charge the fee just bc it sees a pack of cigarettes, for ex, but doesn't notice any smoke.

I would ask whether the hotel rented out the room to another guest that night. The fee is intended to compensate for extra cleaning and possibly taking the room out of inventory that night.
 
Jan 25, 2017
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#5
Thanks for the reply. The friend purchased a couple topical balms and creams for pain. I am not sure if its considered illegal or not. The hotel informed me that their smoking fee is usually 350.00 but they only charged me 250.00 because there was no extra clean up involved. I have not been able to speak to anyone since they are not returning any calls. Should I assume since there was no extra clean up involved that the room was rentable right away? Also I tried to explain to the lady that not everyone smokes marijuana and that my friend purchased topicals. She then claimed to have proof of ashes. Which is completely impsossible if everyone is totally being honest. Thanks again for the reply.
 
Likes: sas80
Nov 14, 2016
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#6
I have a couple of questions:

1. Did you stay in the room alone or was your friend also a guest?
2. If your friend was also staying in the room, were they ever alone in the room?
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Jan 25, 2017
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#9
Hi yes my friend and I were in and out of the room from sun up til sun down each day of my stay and they were never in my room without me. Survelience i would imagine captured all of that. Do you think? I was the only one listed as a guest.
 
Aug 28, 2015
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#10
Thanks for the reply. The friend purchased a couple topical balms and creams for pain. I am not sure if its considered illegal or not. The hotel informed me that their smoking fee is usually 350.00 but they only charged me 250.00 because there was no extra clean up involved. I have not been able to speak to anyone since they are not returning any calls. Should I assume since there was no extra clean up involved that the room was rentable right away? Also I tried to explain to the lady that not everyone smokes marijuana and that my friend purchased topicals. She then claimed to have proof of ashes. Which is completely impsossible if everyone is totally being honest. Thanks again for the reply.
Since you didn't smoke anything, then there can't be proof of ashes so it doesn't even matter if the hotel has a picture of something that looks like ashes (I have no idea what that could be and I used to smoke) or another room's ashes. When I smoked, I would often have the hotel runners, etc go get me cigarettes. I didn't smoke them in the room but it did occur to me that management would be on high alert. I have never been charged a smoking fee that was not legit, however. It seems like the hotel doesn't have a consistent story. I would hang tight until you receive the hotel's reply from your card issuer.
Did you use a Visa? I recently learned that Visa doesn't consider photos when reviewing disputes.
Asssuming for a moment that the hotel isn't a total liar, and maybe smelled marijuana from the products, I don't see why that would result in a charge. If a prior guest wore patchouli oil, a smell I dislike, and the room smelled, I would complain and switch, but I certainly wouldn't expect that guest to receive a fee for bad taste in fragrance.
 
Nov 14, 2016
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#11
Hi yes my friend and I were in and out of the room from sun up til sun down each day of my stay and they were never in my room without me. Survelience i would imagine captured all of that. Do you think? I was the only one listed as a guest.
Sorry, it's still not clear. Did your friend have her/his own room or did they stay with you? If they did stay with you, did they have their own key? If they had their own room, did you have adjoining rooms?

Also, how many nights were you there?
 
Jan 25, 2017
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#12
Since you didn't smoke anything, then there can't be proof of ashes so it doesn't even matter if the hotel has a picture of something that looks like ashes (I have no idea what that could be and I used to smoke) or another room's ashes. When I smoked, I would often have the hotel runners, etc go get me cigarettes. I didn't smoke them in the room but it did occur to me that management would be on high alert. I have never been charged a smoking fee that was not legit, however. It seems like the hotel doesn't have a consistent story. I would hang tight until you receive the hotel's reply from your card issuer.
Did you use a Visa? I recently learned that Visa doesn't consider photos when reviewing disputes.
Asssuming for a moment that the hotel isn't a total liar, and maybe smelled marijuana from the products, I don't see why that would result in a charge. If a prior guest wore patchouli oil, a smell I dislike, and the room smelled, I would complain and switch, but I certainly wouldn't expect that guest to receive a fee for bad taste in fragrance.
 
Jan 25, 2017
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#13
The last part of your comment made me giggle. I am very curious as to what they actually claim was ashes. And yes I did use a Visa card. Sounds like that alone may help me. Thank you.
 
Jan 25, 2017
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#14
Sorry, it's still not clear. Did your friend have her/his own room or did they stay with you? If they did stay with you, did they have their own key? If they had their own room, did you have adjoining rooms?

Also, how many nights were you there?

I was there a total of 2 nights. My friend/visitor did eventually end up sleeping in the room with me those two nights but I was the only key card holder
 
Nov 14, 2016
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#15
Thank you for the answers.

This is very much a he-said/she-said scenario. You had a guest with you and they were by your own admission interested in marijuana. So it's quite possible that they decided to light up while you were away for a moment, in the bathroom or perhaps while sleeping. That is a considerably plausible scenario.

At the same time, it could be that the hotel is making a mistake or even trying to take advantage of you. That's equally plausible. Sending copies of the ashes isn't going to be helpful. They could do that from any room at any time and you wouldn't be able to tell if they were there during your stay.

Now it's up to the hotel to prove a preponderance of the evidence. They haven't done so.

Now since you started a CC dispute already (the nuclear option) there's little we can advise. If you win then there's a slight chance they could try to pursue the matter via collections. It's almost certain they will not however. If you lose then they will have absolutely no incentive to work with you.

What I would prepare to send to my credit card company is this:

Credit Card Company
Account XYZ
re: Charge for $250 by Holiday Inn, reference #12345

I was charged $250 by the Holiday Inn because they said I was smoking in the room. I categorically deny this charge and I am formally disputing this debt.

1. I deny smoking at any point and that I do not smoke.
2. That this fee is not disclosed or otherwise part of any terms and conditions. The hotel's smoking fee is $350. As you can see, this amount was not charged because they admitted to not smelling smoke. Thus they invented a new, undisclosed fees with arbitrary charge amounts after the fact. They admit there was no cleanup and no damages.
3. I attempted to resolve this through the vendor but after calls at x (time and day), y and z they no longer returned any calls. (by the way, stop calling and start writing - a paper trail is better than a phone log)
4. They refused to supply any evidence whatsoever, going so far as to claim to having pictures but refusing to share them.
5. They have no signature on any credit card of me approving these charges or fees.

Thus I deny any responsibility for this debt as the hotel made up post-facto undisclosed fees, providing no evidence to back them up and that these charges are invalid and unauthorized. Please remove these from my account. Thank you for your assistance and please email me at abc@123.com with any further questions.

Regards,

Me

I'd put this in a piece of certified mail and send it to the bank with my account number at the top. In order to later invoke Fair Credit Act provisions, written notification of a disputed debt must be made. That should resolve this issue.
 
Last edited:

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#16
Hi yes my friend and I were in and out of the room from sun up til sun down each day of my stay and they were never in my room without me. Survelience i would imagine captured all of that. Do you think? I was the only one listed as a guest.
Are you saying you only had the room reserved for one person or you had a room for 2 but it was solely in your name?

I only ask because if you booked a room for one person and they knew there were 2 in your room, they might be pulling this on you because you didn't book a room for 2 and they are trying to make a point?

I always think the evil thought, lol
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#17
Leggs, I believe you're being gouged here. Nobody smokes in a hotel room any more, everyone knows there's a healthy fee for doing so.

I would sit down and write the hotel GM a letter denying that anyone smoked in your room. Tell them there's been a mistake and there was never any smoke in your room. Tell them you want the fee credited back to your card immediately.

I have seen housekeeping people in recently-vacated rooms smoking on their breaks.
 
Likes: Leggs
Feb 9, 2016
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#18
Lol, ask to see their proof. What are they going to give you? A close up pic of some ashes on a random table that could be in any room? If there was smoking that occurred in that room there needs to be a cleaning bill specifically for smoking in that room. They already told you they don't have this.

Out of gas
 
Jan 25, 2017
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#19
Thank you for the answers.

This is very much a he-said/she-said scenario. You had a guest with you and they were by your own admission interested in marijuana. So it's quite possible that they decided to light up while you were away for a moment, in the bathroom or perhaps while sleeping. That is a considerably plausible scenario.

At the same time, it could be that the hotel is making a mistake or even trying to take advantage of you. That's equally plausible. Sending copies of the ashes isn't going to be helpful. They could do that from any room at any time and you wouldn't be able to tell if they were there during your stay.

Now it's up to the hotel to prove a preponderance of the evidence. They haven't done so.

Now since you started a CC dispute already (the nuclear option) there's little we can advise. If you win then there's a slight chance they could try to pursue the matter via collections. It's almost certain they will not however. If you lose then they will have absolutely no incentive to work with you.

What I would prepare to send to my credit card company is this:

Credit Card Company
Account XYZ
re: Charge for $250 by Holiday Inn, reference #12345

I was charged $250 by the Holiday Inn because they said I was smoking in the room. I categorically deny this charge and I am formally disputing this debt.

1. I deny smoking at any point and that I do not smoke.
2. That this fee is not disclosed or otherwise part of any terms and conditions. The hotel's smoking fee is $350. As you can see, this amount was not charged because they admitted to not smelling smoke. Thus they invented a new, undisclosed fees with arbitrary charge amounts after the fact. They admit there was no cleanup and no damages.
3. I attempted to resolve this through the vendor but after calls at x (time and day), y and z they no longer returned any calls. (by the way, stop calling and start writing - a paper trail is better than a phone log)
4. They refused to supply any evidence whatsoever, going so far as to claim to having pictures but refusing to share them.
5. They have no signature on any credit card of me approving these charges or fees.

Thus I deny any responsibility for this debt as the hotel made up post-facto undisclosed fees, providing no evidence to back them up and that these charges are invalid and unauthorized. Please remove these from my account. Thank you for your assistance and please email me at abc@123.com with any further questions.

Regards,

Me

I'd put this in a piece of certified mail and send it to the bank with my account number at the top. In order to later invoke Fair Credit Act provisions, written notification of a disputed debt must be made. That should resolve this issue.

Fantastic advice! Thank you so much!