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Why I Sometimes Give Up on Hotel Stays

About a few years ago, I decided to start applying the lemon law to my hotel stays.

The lemon law, originally conceived, provides “a remedy for purchasers of cars and other consumer goods in order to compensate for products that repeatedly fail to meet standards of quality and performance.”  (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

But the lemon law I’m referring to is a variation of the original coined by Barney Stinson of How I Met Your Mother infamy.

He believed that during a first date, either party should be allowed to end the date within the first five minutes with absolutely no hard feelings.

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(click to enlarge)

This was meant to highlight how callous Barney Stinson is–but it isn’t actually a bad idea.  First dates are awful and even if one is going badly, everyone feels the need to finish them out.  And then there is the awkward waiting to see if one contacts the other, only for one party to eventually realize they were dumped via never having their calls returned.

Awful, right?  So, Barney’s plan doesn’t seem so bad to me.  His friends disagreed.

(Slight digression–the only part I disagree with Barney in is this.  He goes to prove his point by getting Robin to go on a date with Bill from Freaks & Geeks to Mars 2112, suggested that the now-closed Sci-Fi themed bar is the worse place to take a date.  Meanwhile, I was like, hi there!)

So how is this at all relevant for travel?

I’ve started instituting a lemon law for hotel stays.  If within the first few minutes of arrival, something does not feel right–I trust those instincts.

Now, I am a huge believer in giving hotels an opportunity to fix a problem.  But most of those problems aren’t the sort of thing you’ll see within the first five minutes of checking in.

There was a specific experience that triggered this policy.

I checked into a hotel by myself when traveling for work.  When I stepped into the hotel room, the floor was soaking wet.

I don’t mean that I felt something by shuffling my feet.  I mean that when I stepped, the carpet went SPLOOSH SPLOOSH.

I asked to switch rooms and got a room where a lot of the wall paper had been torn off.  Weird.

Later on, when woken from my sleep by noises, I realized that this hotel was pretty frequented–at least on weekends–by drug users and those seeking pleasures in exchange for cash.  I couldn’t tell that immediately from stepping into the hotel room, but realized I should have assumed something strange was going on from the start.  (And this surprisingly did not come up in the reviews!)

So now, if things don’t feel right within the first five minutes, I call an audible and I lemon law it.

As for Barney Stinson, he got lemon lawed himself.  And was proud of the girl for doing it.  So I can respect that!

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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5 comments

  1. How does this work with reservations? A lot of hotels don’t let you cancel less than 24 hours in advance. Do you just eat the money or does your status allow you to cancel without a fee? Or something else?

  2. I’ve never been stuck with the bill on a bad hotel check in, but won’t reserve a room in a hotel not well worn on the business travel circuit. Most nice hotels have a good enough corporate rate to keep it competitive with the cheaper hotels. Honestly I’m surprised you stayed in a hotel that was in that category, must have been a very good marketing job to get a business traveler into a slum like that.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      I worked at a small non-profit at the time (I’m now at a big non-profit) so we didn’t get those benefits when traveling! Just a sub $100 budget and Trip Advisor!

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