I guess it was only matter of time before we saw this happen. With hotels taking it on the chin from sites like bed bug registry and others, I am not surprised to see a hotel fighting back after receiving bad PR on a travel site.
It appears that Carleton Hotel LLC, has taken the step of suing a customer for defamation after the couple stayed in the hotel and then complained about bed bugs on the travel site trip advisor. The couple claims they were bit by bed bugs and when they complained to management, management basically blew them off. The hotel contends that they not only took them seriously, but had both housekeeping and a pest control company come in looking for evidence of an infestation. None was found. Now being a pest control professional who only works on bed bugs infestations, I can understand where both sides are coming from.
From the viewpoint of a hotel guest, they have no idea what a hotel has or has not done to protect them. Hotels do not advertise in public what steps they are taking to help protect their customer from bed bugs. The customer has no idea if the hotel is proactively using a dog to check every room every quarter for bed bugs. They have no idea if the hotel is using the latest methods of heat remediation to eliminate infestations when they find them. So if a customer issues a complaint to management, and does not get the answer they want, then I can see where they might feel they are being ignored or not being taken seriously. They just don’t know and it is a mistake to assume nothing is being done.
From the viewpoint of the hotel, they are seeing hotel guests scream bed bug at the slightest itch or scratch. Most hotel guests have no clue what a bed bug is or what they even look like. However, because of all the bed bug news lately and surveys done by National Pest Management Association about bed bugs, that is the first thing they think of. Not to mention, there are some guests who try to take advantage of a hotels generous complaint policy and will raise a stink in order to get free rooms or have their bill reduced. We here at The Bed Bug Answer are seeing that type of behavior more and more. What is most aggravating to me is when a hotel is accused of being negligent when we know that the management is doing everything known to date to stay ahead of bed bugs.
I don’t know if this lawsuit will change anything in the grand scheme of things. The customers will have to prove they were ignored and or not taken seriously which could be hard to do. The hotel will have to prove that they do take these complaints seriously and that they do have a program in place. However, as long as bed bugs are around, we will continue to see complaints whether they are warranted or not.
John, Atlanta Bed Bug Control Specialist