What are my remedies for a hotel giving another guest my room key and having that guest walk in on me when I was undressed?

Expert Answers
nanmarc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an unfortunate and undoubtedly embarrassing situation; I'm sorry you had this experience and I hope the remainder of your stay was pleasant. As a hotel guest, you are entitled to receive the services for which you paid, including a room that is private and secure. The laws for what exactly a hotel is responsible for seem to vary by state, and I am not a lawyer so I can't offer legal advice, but as a consumer with years of experience in the customer service industry I think it's reasonable to expect the hotel to offer some sort of concession (perhaps a discount or complimentary services) to make up for the inconvenience.

I would begin by contacting management to report the incident and asking what course of action they will pursue to make amends. You will likely find a list of contact numbers located near the phone in your hotel room, and if you call the front desk and request someone who can help with a customer service issue, they should be able to connect you with the appropriate person. Once you have this person on the phone, explain that the key to your room was also given to another guest, who walked in while you were undressed, and point out that you are both disturbed by the error in security and embarrassed by the violation of privacy. The representative will likely apologize for the incident, and it's possible they will offer some form of compensation or concession to make up for the trouble. If a solution is not presented, try politely asking something similar to "how do you propose to make this situation right, and how can I be sure this won't happen again?"

If the representative of the hotel to whom you speak is not helpful or does not present an acceptable solution, try visiting the hotel's web site and retrieving the number for customer service. This number will likely be in small print at the bottom of the web page, and if you're staying in a major hotel chain (Hilton, Holiday Inn, Best Western, etc.) you can pull this number from the company's main website rather than looking for a specific location. When you speak with a customer service representative, repeat the problem you had with your hotel room and point out that you did not receive adequate customer service from hotel staff regarding this matter. The representative to whom you're now speaking should be able to offer a solution, perhaps in the form of a hotel credit or something similar, and if a concession is not presented, it may be helpful to again ask how they plan to address the problem.

Hotels desire to be known for providing superior service since this can be helpful in increasing business, and bad reviews can be harmful in gaining new customers and in ensuring the return of existing customers. If the hotel does not address this breach of privacy in a way that you deem acceptable, consider leaving detailed reviews on travel accommodations sites such as TripAdvisor or Fodor's, which may then be addressed by management in order to discourage bad publicity. Publicly addressing the issue on the company's social media accounts may also be helpful in gaining some form of recourse, particularly if you have a publicly viewable Twitter or Instagram account.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am very sorry this happened to you, and I can only imagine your embarrassment when that door opened; certainly this event should never have occurred and undoubtedly it could have been prevented. Having said that, and knowing that I am not a lawyer, I do not think you are entitled to any legal remedy. 

Anyone who is a guest on another person's property has a right to some level of Standard of Care. That level is different in a person's home than in a business, and every business is different, as well. What is true, though, is that the Standard of Care must be uniform for every establishment in a particular category (i.e., hotels).

Standards of Care protect guests against accidents that occur on a property that are not caused by a third party such as a person falling as a result of property dangers such as a slippery walkway or an unmarked dangerous ledge.

Giving out an incorrect key probably does not rise to this level of harm since (thankfully) there was no assault or worse when the door opened.

These guidelines from the eNotes link below further indicate the kinds of things a hotel must do:

  • Hotels are not liable for every accident or loss that occurs on the premises, nor do they insure the absolute safety of every guest.
  • Hotels have a general duty to exercise "reasonable care" for the safety and security of their guests.
  • Hotels have a general duty to reasonably protect guests from harm caused by other guests or non-guests.
  • Hotels are not liable for harm to person or property unless "fault" can be established against the hotel.
  • Hotels may be "vicariously liable" for the NEGLIGENCE of their employees.

The last two points are the most applicable to your situation. "Harm to person" might be difficult for you to prove, though certainly everyone would admit that the embarrassment would have been significant. While it is true that at least one employee made a terrible error in your situation, you may have trouble proving negligence in the legal sense. 

It seems to me (and remember I am NOT a lawyer) that you have no legal recourse because you were not legally damaged; however, it certainly seems reasonable for you to expect some form of compensation, in the form of a free stay, a discount voucher, or whatever else might seem reasonable for that hotel and your circumstances. It is also your right to offer a critique of the hotel in any of the review sites (and perhaps even the hotel's own site) which documents your experience. 

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