Can a hotel charge me for smoking in a non smoking environment?

by admin on January 31, 2011

I recently stayed at a non smoking hotel. I disabled the smoke detector, I guess they sensed that. When I went to check out they have charged me a 0 fee for smoking. The hotel does have no smoking signs, but the only thing they have on me is that I disabled the detector. Do I have a right to fight this charge? Can I win it?

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    { 21 comments… read them below or add one }

    aafromaa January 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    A hotel can definitely charge you for smoking in a non-smoking room. In my state the "normal" fee is $100 and is supported by legislation to that effect. The $250 may sound a bit high, but it may be allowed in your state. You could check with your Attorney General’s office to see if your state sets a limit for hotels and if that limit was exceeded you could get the charge reduced. You could fight the charge, but you should know that disabling the smoke detector is not the way they determined that you were smoking in the room. It was likely reported to the front office by the housekeeping staff who either smelled the smoke in the room or found evidence such as cigarette butts or ashes which they may have kept as proof but even if it was just the odor, they will have had more than one member of the housekeeping staff or management enter the room to verify it and they will testify or make statements in any legal proceeding you may attempt. It will then be you’re word against theirs and as I said they will have more than one staff member who will say the same thing. And if you make it a legal issue, and lose you will likely be liable for court costs and attorney fees as well. You can try to request an intervention from your credit card company by disputing the charge. However, they will contact the hotel who will respond with the statements from the employees and you would likely lose the dispute.

    Don’t be too upset with the hotel for charging you. In some states if a hotel advertises as a non-smoking hotel and someone smokes in it and they do not charge them for doing so, the hotel can be considered in violation of local and state ordinances governing non-smoking properties as well as found guilty of false advertising and be fined up to $10,000 – all because someone smoked in your non-smoking room without your permission but you did nothing about it. Charging the customer who did this not only helps them pay for the additional cleaning required to restore the room to a non-smoking status which includes dry cleaning the drapes, steam cleaning the carpet and upholstered furniture, deodorizing the mattress and box springs, and throwing out the pillows, but it also shows the state that the hotel did not condone the action of the customer who smoked in their non-smoking room so that they can avoid that fine from the state.

    By the way, cigarette smoke isn’t likely to set off a smoke detector – smoking rooms are required to have them too – so please don’t disable it if there is a next time you want to smoke in a non-smoking room – it really isn’t a good idea – hotel guests and staff need every warning possible in the event of a fire. Hotel fires are rare but do happen and it is against the law to tamper with the smoke detectors or any other safety equipment in a hotel.

    So, do you have a right to fight the charge? Absolutely. You have the right to fight any charge from any business. Can you win it? Probably not.

    I’m sure this isn’t the answer that you hoped for, but I hope it helps you understand why the hotel charged you.

    PS Hotels didn’t normally charge for these types of issues until the government started fining them for violating the rights of the non-smokers. So chalk this up to one more problem government regulations have caused.

    <3 January 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Probably not because they caught you. Sucks you shouldn’t have smoked. You should actually quit its bad for you.

    iblobic January 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    yeps there gonna fine you & deen kick u out & no u cant win it.. lmao bcuz u know what u did. & u knew u couldnt do it..

    Larry E January 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    You knew it was smoke free so lesson learned I hope.

    c_roseh January 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Yes they do have a right to charge you for that

    LovesTheConstitution January 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Yes, they can.

    Read the contract you signed when you checked in. Hotels have the authority to charge fees that are specified in the contract. Other fees might include sneaking a pet in a no-pets room, for instance.

    Hey there January 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    If they book you into a nonsmoking room, and you smoke, they are within their legal rights to charge you. They usually put down that it is a cleaning fee (carpets, upholstery, etc). I got charged this before, and I tried to fight it, I lost and was out $300. Read the small print on your receipt, it will state it on it. If it doesn’t, ask to see their policy on charging. If one doesn’t exist, then you can fight it.

    Bob S January 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Well, in a court of law, they would ask you if you were smoking, and you were.

    I’m no lawyer, but I also think they have no proof. If they do, your guilty.
    Anything like cigarette butts, or even if they have security cameras, is proof.

    I don’t know, but I would consult with a lawyer.

    RU Quazee January 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    You got charged for dicking with the smoke detector (it wouldn’t go off from smoking anyway, duh.) And the cost of cleaning your foul stench out of the drapes, upholstery, bedding and carpet.
    A better idea, QUIT.

    Kilroy January 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Yes. They have the right to charge you because they have to clean the room (walls, carpets, etc) to rid it of smoke smells so they can again use it for non-smokers. If you wanted to smoke, you should have asked for a smoking room. If non was available, you should have gone outside to smoke.

    I smoke…so I’m not being judgmental about you smoking, but you violated the terms of agreement when you smoked in a non-smoking room.

    garfieldbla January 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Well if they notified you that it was a non smoking facility no you cant fight it if not you can BUT BUT BUT if the state you smoked in is a non smoking state and you smoke in one of there hotels you better be glad you got off with $250.I know a person personaly who got wrote a ticket in NYC for lighting up less than 50ft in front of a mall. His finewas $1500

    Kim F January 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    They most likely recieved a signal when you dislocated the smoke detector. They most like charged you to reconnect or reset the smoke detector and cleaning the room.

    Sway January 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    I do not think you have any leg to stand on here. I am a smoker, too. You were aware of the hotels policy—with or without– no smoking signs. The $250.00 fee is standard for all hotels. Next time, ask before checking-in. You may to really shop around for a smoking facility, as so many hotels do not have smoking rooms anymore.

    Takbir H January 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    no may be not, firstly because they have already gave u the notice not to smoke by having the signs.So there is less chance of winning….as u have done the faulty parts….and also you disabled the detector, which is an illegal act… you have no chance of winning it and they have the right to charge you. Thank you.

    Lydia January 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    If you paid using a charge card, do a charge back with your credit card company. They would have to prove you did it and unless you confess it would be hard to do.

    dottielasvegas January 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Yes, they can……

    Charles Hussein Veidt January 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    It’s illegal to disable a smoke alarm anyway, so no. You don’t have a case at all.

    And don’t smoke in non-smoking rooms. That’s just tacky. Go outside.

    Rob January 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    you dam skippy smoke-free was on sign in papers you have to pay for not following the rules

    Final Blanked January 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    They charged you for smoking, but they could easily switch their statement to charging you for disabling a smoke detector, which can be dangerous if it is not found out, and they could charge you for that. I’m also pretty sure they can smell the smoke anyways, and it’ll take a while to remove it. So no, I doubt you can win. Unless you happen to have a lot of lawyers.

    laughter_every_day January 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    They can charge you in accordance with the agreement when you checked in, including the small print.

    jackson January 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Some hotels do have systems that can detect if a smoke detector is disabled. It is pretty common business.

    You could make a big deal about that and look into them supplying proof and all. Was it you who did it, maybe it was a previous occupant or even the maid and that sort of thing.

    But in the end that would cost far more than $250. Spend a $1000 or so on a lawyer and he might be able to make it go away. But the hotel might turn around and have you charged for tampering.

    It would also take much time and effort.

    I would just pay it and next time you need a smoke just go outside or book a smoking room. You won’t win this one.

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