La Quinta Inn & Suites - Employee Theft from room

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Aug 9, 2018
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#1
Hello,

I am new and would welcome any advice feedback regarding my situation: Booking July 19 to 23, 2018 (Thurs-Mon)

Primary Issue: Theft of my purse and daughter's car keys and my make-up bag

Secondary Issues: 1) cancellation of reservation/billing of credit card after calling hotel 5 days prior to arrival to secure room and avoid cancellation
2) Room condition: A/C compressor on floor, center support to dresser draw broken, kick plate to dishwasher on the floor, several long curly black hairs on the shower wall, all hardware handles on dresser/nightstands rusted, pull out coach mattress pad multiple stains inside and outside with black crumbs in the fold of the mattress (Management told upon check-in)
3) Re-booking of reservation check out date was incorrect causing room access lockout, incurring higher than expected room rate for the extra day and told I owed an additional $500.00
4) Double charged for room: 1 st for my full stay then additional pending of the same amount ($869.40 x 2) caused my bank account to be over drafted and no money for my entire stay
5) Poor customer service and Staff/management lack of software knowledge and Professionalism
6) Feeling like a criminal while checking out, trying to settle my bill, over charging me $20.00 to make it work in their system

Course of action desired: Complete refund on my stay $869.40, reimbursement costs of the following purse and all contents $200.00, daughter's car keys $470.00 and towing fees, lost wages of 1 day work $500.00, re-keying locks at work $250.00 and contents of my make-up bag $275.00 and pain and suffering til this day

I did call the police and make a report immediately after noticing my items were missing and the front desk manager. The left occurred on Sunday July 22nd which was the mistake date of check out. I had my Do not Disturb tag on door our entire stay. We didn't leave my room until 1:15pm and returned about 5:30pm. Upon our return, our room key failed to work so daughter went to desk to get a new key. Get a call from daughter that there is a problem , come downstairs. Told that we were to have checked out today and I owe them $500 additional dollars. I said, No I don't. You have already billed me twice for this room causing an overdraft and no money. Desk manager didn't agree insisted that what the computer was correct. Showed her my bank account online which started her bad mouthing the employee from check in. Finally, got her to call her GM, who was out of town and didn't want to deal with it so he said just give her a key and I'll deal with it in the morning. Got a new key and started putting away beach gear when I get a text message Fraud Alert from my bank asking if I am making a purchase of $41.00 at Sonic. I hadn't and went to reach for my purse which was on the table and it was gone, asked daughter if she moved it, No. I immediately went to front desk while calling the police on my cell phone. Told desk to call her GM back because an employee has stolen my purse and keys from my room. While waiting for police and on hold with my bank, desk manager tells me that the previous desk manager was not at the front desk for the 5 pm shift change and didn't show up until 5:22 pm. When she did show up, she proceeded to tell the new manager that she needed to speak to her about Room 203 (my room): They are still here and her purse and kid's clothes are in there. Thus, making the day manager the last person to enter my room. Police arrive, report made. This is a very small town, everyone knows everyone. (This town was devastated by Hurricane Harvey, BTW). The desk manager calls her GM, police tell him that he needs to download the security video of my door and get it to the police first thing in the am so they can try to return my things before I leave the next day. He then tells me he is sorry and will cooperate with the police. He will be back in the morning to settle my account. While I was on with my bank, 2 other attempts were made with my bank card, from 6:21 pm to 6:33 pm, 1) $68.00 gas 2) ATM withdraw of $500.00 and 3) $41.00 Sonic, all within 2 blocks of each other.

The GM couldn't get the video copied for the police so access was given to the police to remote in to get the footage. Called the La Quinta Customer Care Service Center which got the video situation remedied, about 2 weeks. The night desk manager got fired 2 weeks later. The Gm keeps telling he will call me but doesn't. I can't get the Detective to return a call nor his Commander to give a stasis on my case. I have exhausted by savings with the expenses of replacement, etc. Stressed out doesn't cover this experience. Not to mention that this was my Birthday present, 07/24 bday.

Contents of purse had my work keys to the Pharmacy so the locks needed to be changed and re-keyed. My drivers license, social security card, ATM cards, etc.

I have had to closed and reopen bank accounts, put fraud alerts on all 3 credit bureaus, incurred late payments on bills due to my direct deposit being messed up by the account changes (took 1 week).

I have read your previous advice to other similar situations and need direction.

Sincerely,

Your Nightmare in Rockport-Fulton Texas
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#2
Sounds like a miserable time

I will start with some questions.

Were you actually double billed the $869.40? The authorization should have disappeared once the charge posted. Did you check with your bank about what their policies are?

Now onto the theft— you say the night manager was fired— does this have anything to do with the theft? Earlier you wrote that the day manager was the last to go in the room.

Was anyone arrested?

Is there any other way into the room? Window, balcony, hacked key card....what floor were you on.

Without an arrest of a hotel employee it will be hard to prove the hotel was liable. TX law limits liability to $50 if hotel not liable.

Was there no room safe or anyplace secure to leave your purse?

Did the ATM or any of those charges go through?

Was your daughter’s purse also stolen? Where where her car keys?

I think you need to get an idea of what has happened with the police report?

The hotel may not want to even talk about compensation if there is an active police investigation.

I have to ask about lost wages of one day at $500 is that a typo— that would equal 10,000 per month and it is hard to reconcile that with the idea that an authorization of 870 causes an overdraft and no money being left.

Is there any way to go to the police department if you cannot get an answer? I am hoping gas station security may show something. The issue is liability from the hotel — an employee stealing vs a guest leaving a window open (just an example not saying you did this)
 
Aug 9, 2018
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#3
Sounds like a miserable time

I will start with some questions.

Were you actually double billed the $869.40? The authorization should have disappeared once the charge posted. Did you check with your bank about what their policies are?

Now onto the theft— you say the night manager was fired— does this have anything to do with the theft? Earlier you wrote that the day manager was the last to go in the room.

Was anyone arrested?

Is there any other way into the room? Window, balcony, hacked key card....what floor were you on.

Without an arrest of a hotel employee it will be hard to prove the hotel was liable. TX law limits liability to $50 if hotel not liable.

Was there no room safe or anyplace secure to leave your purse?

Did the ATM or any of those charges go through?

Was your daughter’s purse also stolen? Where where her car keys?

I think you need to get an idea of what has happened with the police report?

The hotel may not want to even talk about compensation if there is an active police investigation.

I have to ask about lost wages of one day at $500 is that a typo— that would equal 10,000 per month and it is hard to reconcile that with the idea that an authorization of 870 causes an overdraft and no money being left.

Is there any way to go to the police department if you cannot get an answer? I am hoping gas station security may show something. The issue is liability from the hotel — an employee stealing vs a guest leaving a window open (just an example not saying you did this)
Answers to your questions:

Double billing: GM had to call the number on the back of my card and ask for the pending $870 to be removed and I had to confirm that this was okay.

Theft: I misspoke, it should be day manager. I'm not sure but will ask.

Arrest: can't confirm since no response from the police dept. I have left several messages for the detective and the Commander since July 24th.

Room location/entry: second floor of 3 floor hotel. Our room was located directly over the lobby, our window was obstructed by the upper part of the car port. Window would have to be smashed to enter and a ladder would be needed to get on top of the car port. Regarding the key card, the GM did run a report as soon as we left the room for check out.

No other place to leave purse. We were at the beach. Only took a few things from my purse...cash, Drivers license, bank card.

ATM transactions: yes, the 1st one for $68 for gas. My bank credited the funds immediately while on the phone with them. There are video tapes of all 3 transactions (gas,atm,sonic) and the police stated on July 23rd, that they were scheduled to view those on the morning of the 24th. I went to the police dept before leaving to return home and spoke with the Commander.

Keys: they were on the table next to my purse. She doesn't use a purse. DL, cards attached to phone. Her car was at home in San Antonio.

Police report: I called the records dept to obtain a copy of the report. I was told that my case is an open, active investigation. Was given the detective's name and direct line. I could go there if I absolutely have to go. It is 2.5 hours away. I would have to take the day off from work without pay as I have no more vacation days. I only get 10 working days per year. No sick days.

As for my lost wages, I am an Independent Retail Pharmacist. I work a 9 hour shift, Monday thru Friday, 9 am to 6 PM. I am the only pharmacist. I make $52/hr or $468/day. I take home $2700 ever 2 weeks. I am a single mother of a 19 yr old and a 4 yr old. Between college, daycare and rent, etc. You'd be surprised what little is remaining. I did have about $2000 in my savings which I have used to replace the keys to both my work and car, purse, wallet, make up, etc. This vacation was a splurge for us. I don't use credit cards so if I don't have the money, you don't get it.

This hotel is a franchised location. Should I address the owners?

Thank you for your response!
 
Mar 17, 2015
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#4
You are probably out of luck with the hotel, it would be a goodwill gesture for the hotel to comp a few nights, but under the law, their liability is limited. To prove it is the fault of the hotel, you would need to prove management knew of thefts and did nothing.

Also, lost wages are typically only awarded in injury cases, you very rarely see them for theft. And as much as we want all crimes to be throughly investigated, your is probably on the bottom of a pile as the detective may have a huge caseload and more serious crimes to investigate. I still think you should get a phone call back from him, so I would call his supervisor and see if you could not get a response that way.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,789
12,762
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#5
Was there a safe in the room? Going forward- you don’t have to put your entire bag in the safe. Take out anything valuable and lock it in the safe. Never ever leave it in your room.

We also lock our luggage when we travel and my wife takes her handbag and locks it in the luggage if she doesn’t take it when we go out.

You should use our company contacts and start contacting Corporate Contacts. Read how to write- one person at a time.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#6
Val L

Thank you for your response. I did not mean to pry about the wages, I thought it may be a typo, but it makes perfect sense and that is the wage of a pharmacist. Yes life with children and college is very expensive.

I looked at the hotel and saw that they do not advertise safes in the rooms which is a surprise.

As to the hold of funds on the account for the stay I think that may be an issue with the bank. Most of the authorization holds are timed, ie fall off in a certain amount of time, and it is the bank that sets those rules. Unless the hotel actually sent in two different charge transactions, it is the fault of the bank. I had that problem many years ago when my credit card number was stolen and I was traveling and the small hotel only took visa/mc — I had to pay with debit card and the hold took a bit to drop. Banks set the hold time, not merchant or visa/mc. So the issue with that one is not clear.

Texas hotel liability is tough with a limit of $50. One may be able to argue that the hotel safe was not readily available — and if the employee was arrested then it is easier to argue that the hotel is liable.

But there is a chance it was not an employee . Perhaps someone from the hotel went into the room, saw your things there, and left and did not secure the door. Someone else saw the door partially open and went in and stole — well that sounds like hotel liability.

It sounds like a dumb criminal but many of them are — going to places that have video recordings— but this has certainly happened to people I know when their wallets have been stolen.

This is why I think it is so important to find out where the investigation is headed — even though you are not receiving a response.

Is this a city with a high crime rate so police are distracted.

Have you been dealing with the GM of the hotel? Who have you been in touch with?
 
Mar 14, 2018
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#7
You are probably out of luck with the hotel, it would be a goodwill gesture for the hotel to comp a few nights, but under the law, their liability is limited. To prove it is the fault of the hotel, you would need to prove management knew of thefts and did nothing.

Also, lost wages are typically only awarded in injury cases, you very rarely see them for theft. And as much as we want all crimes to be throughly investigated, your is probably on the bottom of a pile as the detective may have a huge caseload and more serious crimes to investigate. I still think you should get a phone call back from him, so I would call his supervisor and see if you could not get a response that way.

The $50 cap doesn't apply if the theft was committed by a hotel employee (or through their negligence eg leaving your door unlocked after cleaning), regardless of what management knows.
 
Aug 9, 2018
4
0
1
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#8
You are probably out of luck with the hotel, it would be a goodwill gesture for the hotel to comp a few nights, but under the law, their liability is limited. To prove it is the fault of the hotel, you would need to prove management knew of thefts and did nothing.

Also, lost wages are typically only awarded in injury cases, you very rarely see them for theft. And as much as we want all crimes to be throughly investigated, your is probably on the bottom of a pile as the detective may have a huge caseload and more serious crimes to investigate. I still think you should get a phone call back from him, so I would call his supervisor and see if you could not get a response that way.
Was there a safe in the room? Going forward- you don’t have to put your entire bag in the safe. Take out anything valuable and lock it in the safe. Never ever leave it in your room.

We also lock our luggage when we travel and my wife takes her handbag and locks it in the luggage if she doesn’t take it when we go out.

You should use our company contacts and start contacting Corporate Contacts. Read how to write- one person at a time.
No safe in the room
 
Aug 9, 2018
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#9
An update: I phoned the GM this morning, he stated that the key audit only showed my key and the day manager's key being used on July 22nd. I asked if she was terminated because of her entering my room and what the video tape of my door revealed. He was guarded in his words and what he didn't say. He stated that she was in her 90 day period and they don't condone that type of behavior so she was let go.
 
Mar 14, 2018
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#11
I think you have a decent case that the theft was either committed or enabled by a La Quinta employee. If you could get more info from the police you'd be better off, but it sounds like you might not have time to do that.

I'd suggest sending a letter to the property owner that briefly lays out your story and asks for your damages to be paid. This La Quinta is a franchise owned by Intuition Investments (President is Jatin Bhakta, who also owns the nearby Hampton Inn. Address is PO Box 459 Fulton TX 78358). Copy La Quinta corporate as Neil suggested, but Bhakta is the owner and ultimate decision maker.

My suggestion would be to simplify your story. Remove all the secondary issues and boil it down to the basics (eg. I left my hotel room at 1:15 and returned at 5:30. During that time my room was burglarized, including credit cards which were used fraudulently later that evening. According to your key log, the day manager's key was used to enter my room while I was away from the room. I am aware that you also have video surveillance of the door to my room, but have not been given access to it.)

You also need to decide how much money to ask for. I'd suggest skipping "pain and suffering" and the room refund, but may as well ask for everything else right now ($1675).

If the hotel owner actually knows that their employee committed the theft, he'll probably want to negotiate a settlement with you. I'd shoot for $1175 (your actual cash losses, not counting the lost day of work.)

If they won't settle and corporate won't help, you always have the option of going to small claims court (where you can subpoena their surveillance video and key card records). But this will cost money so you'll want to be sure you're right...
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,789
12,762
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#12
I think you have a decent case that the theft was either committed or enabled by a La Quinta employee. If you could get more info from the police you'd be better off, but it sounds like you might not have time to do that.

I'd suggest sending a letter to the property owner that briefly lays out your story and asks for your damages to be paid. This La Quinta is a franchise owned by Intuition Investments (President is Jatin Bhakta, who also owns the nearby Hampton Inn. Address is PO Box 459 Fulton TX 78358). Copy La Quinta corporate as Neil suggested, but Bhakta is the owner and ultimate decision maker.

My suggestion would be to simplify your story. Remove all the secondary issues and boil it down to the basics (eg. I left my hotel room at 1:15 and returned at 5:30. During that time my room was burglarized, including credit cards which were used fraudulently later that evening. According to your key log, the day manager's key was used to enter my room while I was away from the room. I am aware that you also have video surveillance of the door to my room, but have not been given access to it.)

You also need to decide how much money to ask for. I'd suggest skipping "pain and suffering" and the room refund, but may as well ask for everything else right now ($1675).

If the hotel owner actually knows that their employee committed the theft, he'll probably want to negotiate a settlement with you. I'd shoot for $1175 (your actual cash losses, not counting the lost day of work.)

If they won't settle and corporate won't help, you always have the option of going to small claims court (where you can subpoena their surveillance video and key card records). But this will cost money so you'll want to be sure you're right...
Small claims court doesn’t have high costs.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#13
Before filing in small claims court be certain to review the rules. TX seems to lean on filing in the county where the incident happened.

And be aware that small claims courts usually have limited discovery; there may not be the option to subpoena the hotel for videos and such. You must check the local rules. Subpoenas are easier for people as witnesses.

But I would try the corporate contacts first.
 
Last edited:
Likes: Neil Maley

mmb

Verified Member
Jan 20, 2015
810
904
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#14
You are probably out of luck with the hotel, it would be a goodwill gesture for the hotel to comp a few nights, but under the law, their liability is limited. To prove it is the fault of the hotel, you would need to prove management knew of thefts and did nothing.

Also, lost wages are typically only awarded in injury cases, you very rarely see them for theft. And as much as we want all crimes to be throughly investigated, your is probably on the bottom of a pile as the detective may have a huge caseload and more serious crimes to investigate. I still think you should get a phone call back from him, so I would call his supervisor and see if you could not get a response that way.
I would say that if it turns out that the thief was an employee of the hotel and they did not do a background check on thief before hiring and it could have shown bad behavior then they would be liable for your losses. A good attorney /as in Personal Injury Atty/ could help you with this. Here in Florida it’s Morgan and Morgan - for the people. *i am not an attorney, don’t work for them, have never used them but hear their ads on the rad constantly. LOL.
If the hotel has the record of key card use, make sure the detective is aware of that information.
 
Mar 14, 2018
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#15
I would say that if it turns out that the thief was an employee of the hotel and they did not do a background check on thief before hiring and it could have shown bad behavior then they would be liable for your losses. A good attorney /as in Personal Injury Atty/ could help you with this. Here in Florida it’s Morgan and Morgan - for the people. *i am not an attorney, don’t work for them, have never used them but hear their ads on the rad constantly. LOL.
If the hotel has the record of key card use, make sure the detective is aware of that information.
If the theft was committed by a hotel employee (or enabled by their negligence), the hotel is liable and the $50 limit does not apply.

Texas code 13.D.2155.052 (b) (2): "A hotel, apartment hotel, or boardinghouse keeper is not liable for a loss or injury suffered by a guest from the loss of valuables in an amount of more than $50 if:.. the loss or injury does not occur through the negligence or wrongdoing of the keeper or an employee of the hotel, apartment hotel, or boardinghouse."

https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/OC/htm/OC.2155.htm
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#16
I would say that if it turns out that the thief was an employee of the hotel and they did not do a background check on thief before hiring and it could have shown bad behavior then they would be liable for your losses. A good attorney /as in Personal Injury Atty/ could help you with this. Here in Florida it’s Morgan and Morgan - for the people. *i am not an attorney, don’t work for them, have never used them but hear their ads on the rad constantly. LOL.
If the hotel has the record of key card use, make sure the detective is aware of that information.
One should always get references for attorneys and not believe the ads.

Many of these “big” personal injury firms are only interested in cases with “big” fee potentials.
 
Likes: jsn55

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,678
6,668
113
San Francisco
#17
I think you have a decent case that the theft was either committed or enabled by a La Quinta employee. If you could get more info from the police you'd be better off, but it sounds like you might not have time to do that.

I'd suggest sending a letter to the property owner that briefly lays out your story and asks for your damages to be paid. This La Quinta is a franchise owned by Intuition Investments (President is Jatin Bhakta, who also owns the nearby Hampton Inn. Address is PO Box 459 Fulton TX 78358). Copy La Quinta corporate as Neil suggested, but Bhakta is the owner and ultimate decision maker.

My suggestion would be to simplify your story. Remove all the secondary issues and boil it down to the basics (eg. I left my hotel room at 1:15 and returned at 5:30. During that time my room was burglarized, including credit cards which were used fraudulently later that evening. According to your key log, the day manager's key was used to enter my room while I was away from the room. I am aware that you also have video surveillance of the door to my room, but have not been given access to it.)

You also need to decide how much money to ask for. I'd suggest skipping "pain and suffering" and the room refund, but may as well ask for everything else right now ($1675).

If the hotel owner actually knows that their employee committed the theft, he'll probably want to negotiate a settlement with you. I'd shoot for $1175 (your actual cash losses, not counting the lost day of work.)

If they won't settle and corporate won't help, you always have the option of going to small claims court (where you can subpoena their surveillance video and key card records). But this will cost money so you'll want to be sure you're right...
@smd is giving excellent advice, Val. Your letter needs to be concise and factual, the person reading it should easily be able to understand what happened with one read. Leave out references to inconsequential things like hair in the bathtub, etc. Concentrate on the theft; state no opinions, just list the facts. A list might be a good way to communicate clearly. This must have been (and still is) a horrendous experience. Be polite, patient and persistent. Good luck and please let us know the outcome.