I bet this has happened to just about everyone who reads this post: you have been at a hotel somewhere in the world and in the middle of the night the fire alarms go off.
Now the number of times it was a real emergency I bet is almost zero (but if you have a harrowing tale to tell be sure to comment below).
It seems like it happens to me more than the norm, but maybe it is just because of how many nights I stay at hotels each year. Depending on what information you are given (or not given) getting up and putting on outside clothes and coats and whatever and depending on the hotel walking down a great many stairs is never fun but the alternative, if the fire is real, clearly is not good so you go…
But since a bulk of the time the alarms are fake do hotels owe you anything for when these things happen? Does it make any difference if it was a points stay or a paid visit? What about the circumstances that triggered the alarm?
Take my most recent adventure last week when I landed in Grand Rapids. My wife and I were returning from a weekend getaway and landed almost at midnight. It is about a two-hour drive home — so we decided to use points and stay at a Club Carlson property very near the airport. It had a free shuttle that only ran till 11 PM, but I was told I could take a taxi and they would pay us back (I had UBER credits and did that instead).
Literally the moment we walked in the door to the hotel the fire alarms went off i.e. at about midnight. Ugg…
We went back outside and watched guests stream out over the next half an hour as well as the local fire department showing up and more. The employee who was working the night shift on the weekend was beyond frustrated. He said:
- This was an ongoing issue for the hotel
- He could not get the alarms shut off
- Managers would not answer their phones
- He could not contact the property owners
He was clearly not getting paid enough to deal with this but by 2 AM all was quiet again (alarms were disabled I was told and would not be going off again) and the firemen departed and he could check us in — but not to the room we were to stay in because there was water flooding rooms on the 3rd floor running all the way down to the 1st floor and apparently this was the trigger for the alarms.
Considering I could have been home by now if I had just got in my car at the airport this good night’s rest was becoming a bit of a joke. Plus, it was a bit disconcerting that the fire alarms were now disabled for the property. I also suggested to the employee maybe they should extend the breakfast time the next day as some may want to sleep in after the midnight adventures (that did not happen).
Club Carlson did reach out to me about this after my tweets to them but nothing happened beyond a DM that said they were sorry. Personally, considering the hotel has had an ongoing issue with their alarms, I think points back for the stay would have been nice. That has not happened nor do I expect anything will.
So what do you think? Are there ever times hotels owe you a refund for “fake” fire alarms destroying your night’s rest? Does it matter how they are triggered or by whom? Does it matter if it was a points stay vs. a paid stay regarding compensation? Or is this just part of hotel life and we just have to expect this can happen and put up with it when it happens no matter what? Let me know in the comments below. – René
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