Q: I stayed at Days Inn in St. Paul. 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.

A few days later, I noticed a $150 charge on my credit card from Days Inn. I called the motel, and a representative told me that it was a 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 have nicer, friendlier staff and room keys that work for more than one day?

I would like a complete refund of my cleaning fee. Can you help?

A: 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.

Days Inn doesn’t disclose its $150 cleaning fee on its website. But I looked 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 so much as a nosebleed, and there were no additional guests. I’m suspicious of Days Inn’s cleaning charge.

A politely worded e-mail to Wynd­ham Hotels & Resorts, Days Inn’s corporate parent, might have helped. I list the contacts for the top executives on elliott.org. If it doesn’t respond, you could have, and should have, disputed the charge 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 Days Inn. It refunded your $150 as a “goodwill gesture.”


Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. Read more tips on his blog, elliott.org, or e-mail him at chris@elliott.org.