how to deal with guest claims maid for stolen item

30 replies [Last post]
Offline
Joined:
07/20/2012

Our Inn opens for business for 5 years and we never had one incident of stolen item.  One of the guests lost her pair of shoes (she stated it worths 250) and claimed it on our maid and wanted us to pay for her loss.  How do you deal with this sort of situation?

Thanks in advance for your advices.

 

Arks's picture
Offline
Joined:
05/22/2010

I just had my first one along this line. A guest wrote the day after she left, saying she's sure she left her jewelry case on the be bed and would I please check with housekeeping to retrieve it.

I wrote back that everything on the bed had been washed and returned to the bed, and nothing was there. I looked under the bed and behind the headboard, in the closets, and nothing was there. The entire apartment was dusted and swept and nothing was there.

I could just hear her saying, "Yeah right. The housekeeper stole it and I know it." Of course, I'm the housekeeper.

Sure enough, as I was expecting, she wrote today to say she'd found the jewelry case in a suitcase they didn't carry in from the car during their stay.

Whew. First of many, no doubt.

__________________

All saints can do miracles, but few of them can keep hotel. ~ Mark Twain

 

Proud Texan's picture
Offline
Joined:
05/30/2008

 We have this written into our policies that guests must agree to before they can make a reservation:

Release
By acceptance of these policies, Guests agree to indemnify, defend and hold harmless the owners of XYZ Bed and Breakfast, L.L.C. and its representatives from all claims, disputes, litigation, judgments, costs, and attorney fees resulting from loss, damage or injury to Guests and occupants, and licensees of Guests. Owner recommends that Guests obtain and carry insurance to protect personal property.

Guests or their personal property, including vehicles, are not insured by the property owners against loss or damage due to fire, theft, vandalism, rain, water, criminal or negligent acts of others, or any other cause. Please read and understand our policies before making your reservation.

Offline
Joined:
05/22/2008

 Sorry to say...just one more thing they will not read. I was told a long time ago when I tried to put something like this in writina and they said it was not really worth the paper it is written on. If someone really wants to sue, they can and will. 

Proud Texan's picture
Offline
Joined:
05/30/2008

catlady wrote:

 Sorry to say...just one more thing they will not read. I was told a long time ago when I tried to put something like this in writina and they said it was not really worth the paper it is written on. If someone really wants to sue, they can and will. 

 Better to have some teeth than be toothless.

Offline
Joined:
08/21/2012

I am a Loss Prevention (Security) manager at a major hotel.  You should always be educated on your state's innkeeper statutes regarding liability for alleged stolen items.  You should also have some sort of disclaimer posted in the room stating that the hotel's liability is limited.  And you should always offer an in-room safe or a safe deposit box at the Front Desk for guests to hold valuables.  There are innkeeper statutes in almost every country, and they protect the hotel in instances such as these, as most stolen item allegations are a matter of "he said/she said" so-to-speak.

First off, if a guest claims an item is stolen from the room, do not admit guilt, offer reimbursement, offer any comps, or mention insurance and statutes.  Reason being is you don't want to set precendents on reimburesement, and you don't want to open a can of worms regarding legalities.  However, always empathize with the guest, and let them know that the hotel will do everything in its power to investigate and recover the item.  NEVER indicate to the guest in any way that you believe they are lying.  Take an incident report, and make sure you get all the necessary details such as item description, item value, date/time item was last seen, and date/time item was determined to be missing.  Run a report from the guest-room lock to determine who made entries into the room during the given time-frame.  Set up interviews with any employees that entered the room, and obtain written statements from them.  Remember, as a company or business owner, you want to make sure you are respectful to your employees and that they are protected.  Unless an employee flat out admits guilt, or was seen by a witness stealing the item, or if they are caught on camera, you will probably not be able to determine if the item was taken.

Second, ask the guest if he/she is willing to complete their own written/signed statement.  Offer to get the police involved.  You may either offer a contact number to the police, or call them yourself and get the guest in touch with them.  Because this is the guest's personal property, he/she must talk to the police directly to make a report. Once the police are contacted by the guest, ask for a police report number to add to your documentation of the incident.

If the guest is immediately insistent on a reimbursement, politely let them know that reimbursement will not be possible, and in rare occurences such as these, the hotel follows a specific policy and procedural investigation.  Whether your investigation takes minutes, hours, or days, always follow-up with the guest to give them an update.  Sometimes the guest may be appeased just by showing him/her that you take the situation seriously and are doing everything you can.

After you have completed your investigation, contact the guest to inform of the results.  Let him/her know that you have investigated fully, and we regret to inform you that unfortunately we were unable to locate the missing item.  If the guest is not satisfied, then you may take the opportunity to push the claim to your insurance reps, or even inform the guest of innkeeper statutes that limit the hotels' liability.  In the case of my hotel, and most other major hotel chains, we have a third party risk managment company that represents our insurance company and investigates/determines which claims are valid or not.  Inform the guest that at this point, we can forward the claim on to our insurance representatives for further evaluation.  This is where it comes in handy for the guest to have completed their own statement and filed a police report.  It allows insurance reps to get a clear view from both sides.

You may ask, how do I know whether to make this an insurance claim or not?  Well, a general rule of thumb is that any claim of loss around $1000 or more should definitely go in as an insurance claim, as that is the deductible on most policies.  But really, the purpose of submitting a claim is to have another authority back you up and deny the claim, putting an end to the matter.  The bottom line is, if the item was not placed into the safe provided in the room, then insurance will not determine any liability on the hotel.  In every case where there is no way to show any fault of the hotel, the insurance will contact the guest directly and deny the claim.

If the guest is still persistent after being denied by insurance, and keeps contacting the hotel, let them know that you are unable to discuss the incident any further, and refer them back to the insurance rep who was handling their case.

Remember, the smartest thing you can do is to document EVERYTHING.  That means every time you spoke to the guest, every email sent, every investigative measure taken, every correspondence made with the insurance rep., etc.  It is amazing the measures some guests' take to get their reimbursement, icluding throwing YOU, the one who has committed the time to assist them, under the bus.  What I recommend is using what I call a "Trace File," which is a basic spreadsheet log which you can record every action on.  If the time ever comes when you are questioned about anything, then you have something to protect and back you up.

Having said all this, there also will be times where you will need to make a business decision on whether to reimburse for an alleged stolen item or not.  For example, I had an allegation that an $1100 bridal vale was stolen from a closet in the guest-room.  After conducting a full investigation, we could not determine any fault of the hotel or its employees, and in speaking with both the newly-wed husband and wife, it became more and more clear that the husband may have accidentally discarded the item and was trying to cover his tracks (of course, I never ever mentioned this to either of them).  As they were persistent on their claim, I forwarded it on to our insurance, and they flat out sent a denial letter to the guest.  After that, they were still persistent, and it turns out the wife is a higher up in a major well known business (which I won't name), and she threatened to pull future business events that were already planned with the hotel.  In this case, in order to save tens of thousands of dollars, we went ahead and reimbursed for the item.

You may also be faced with a similar decision on a smaller scale.  For instance, a guest believes their cell phone charger was stolen.  They have stayed at your hotel dozens of times, spending thousands of dollars.  Do you reimburse them as valued guests?  Do you stick to your policy and deny them reimbursement?  Do you offer a free room night or a special amenity?  In this case, I would just go ahead and offer something to the guest to make up for it, whether it is a reibursement, credit to their bill, or just go to the store and buy a replacement.

When making such decisions, you should always be thinking of what is in the hotel's best interest, while showing the guest the utmost genuine care.  There is no easy way around any of this.

Sorry for such a long comment, but I wanted to be as helpful as I could, as I deal with these issues on a daily basis, and I know it is a dreadful thing to deal with.

 

Madeleine's picture
Offline
Joined:
09/29/2011

A lot of that is useful but some of it doesn't apply to 99% of us. We don't have keycoded doors or security systems or even 'housekeeping'. Some places don't even have exterior locks on guest rooms. You can latch it when you're in the room but it's otherwise unlocked. And we definitely don't have a safe in the rooms or at the 'front desk'!

The parts about making sure the guest is listened to and offered to write up a report with the police are excellent. If the guest won't get 'official' then they're probably making it up.

Reimbursing guests to avoid losing major future business is always a crapshoot. It could be the start of an ongoing 'soak the hotel' campaign. That doesn't usually happen with smaller properties like the folks on here because guests can pretty much just look around and realize there are no deep pockets. In some cases, it's homeowner's insurance and it won't cover it at all.

Good to hear this from a hotel standpoint as it gives us all something to think about. Thanks!

__________________

Everyday, for good or ill, we intersect with some else's story and become a part of it.

 

birdwatcher's picture
Offline
Joined:
02/22/2009

I'm a little late but I would definantely stick to defending the housekeeper if you never ever had a problem with theft before. I would also ask for a picture of the shoes because if she went home and then called it gives me the feeling that she is trying to blow something over you, how do you know if she even had the shoes with her? And who in their right mind would leave an expensive pair of shoes anyway? DUH!!

Offline
Joined:
07/20/2012

Thank you for all the advices and sharing your experiences. I'm so glad to find this forum.

seashanty's picture
Offline
Joined:
06/02/2008

i had a guest who insisted someone had stolen her designer purse from her room and she all but accused everyone in the place, the chambermaid, the guests, (me?) and actually attempted to get in other guests' rooms to search, trying to push past them as they came out.

she was obnoxious, rude and threatening. i told her she probably left it in the restaurant where she was til they closed the place ... no no no impossible she said. a designer purse, she said. worth hundreds of dollars, she said.  with my pills in it, she said.

it turns out she did leave it in the restaurant across the road overnight.  they found it under a table in the morning, everything inside as it should have been.

she did not apologize to anyone. 

all my guests were upset and angry with her.  my chambermaid felt vindicated but just barely.  happily, i had defended my chambermaid and did not interrogate her as the guest demanded, nor did i allow the guest to interrogate her.

i met the woman at the door when she marched in holding her purse. she said she was going to come tell me she'd found it so i wouldn't feel guilty.  

one of my female guests proclaimed, 'we're so glad you found your fake louis vuitton.'   (naughty ... but she deserved it)

__________________

Wear cute PJ’s to bed; you never know who you may meet in your dreams.

 

Generic's picture
Offline
Joined:
02/24/2011

Had a guest lose his car keys this week. Went through all the luggage, etc. Finally thought it might be in the room, so we went to check the room. It turned out it was... in his left pocket. He's been carrying it the whole time.

__________________

Permission to quote in whole or in part, other than usage on this forum, is entirely forbidden.

 

Joey Camb's picture
Offline
Joined:
04/02/2010

I had the same thing in May - chap was wearing combat type trousers with the key in one of the side pockets - we had his cases tiped out on the floor and all the furniture out before we found them!

__________________

Don't mess with me today or I will kill you!!!!

 

Joey Camb's picture
Offline
Joined:
04/02/2010

we had a woman who had lost her purse - she didn't usually carry one and so wasn't used to it. Me and the chamber maid looked all over but she admitted herself she could have left it anywhere, trouble was it had the sat nav and the address of the friends they were traveling on to see in it. Was getting a bit of a weird vibe when the husband realised the phone was in it and they could ring it and if it was a restaurant or whatever they might answer. He rang it infront of me and the chamber maid and someone answered and then hung up so at least they knew it definately wasn't us! mind you the theif must have been a complete idiot to answer!

Offline
Joined:
06/10/2012

We have a registration form that all of our guests sign upon checking in and one of the things covered by it is that we are not responsible for lost items.

Offline
Joined:
05/30/2008

I had that on the registration form as well.

I had things left and no one ever claimed them or wanted them back, even after emailing them about said items.  I've sent things back to a few guests and never heard back that they received them, or not.

I felt bad for a gal who was here and lost a necklace somewhere during the trip, but I never found it here in the room which I tossed from top to bottom.  They did return to stay with me again and turns out it was never found. 

I would stand by the chambermaid and just say that I'd do the best to try and find the shoes for the guest.

__________________

People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy.
~ Anton Chekhov

 

Madeleine's picture
Offline
Joined:
09/29/2011

We have that statement on our registration form as well.

Proud Texan's picture
Offline
Joined:
05/30/2008

 This is what we state in our policies that the guest must agree to before a reservation can be made:

Release
By acceptance of these policies, Guests agree to indemnify, defend and hold harmless the owners of XYZ Bed and Breakfast, L.L.C. and its representatives from all claims, disputes, litigation, judgments, costs, and attorney fees resulting from loss, damage or injury to Guests and occupants, and licensees of Guests. Owner recommends that Guests obtain and carry insurance to protect personal property.

Guests or their personal property, including vehicles, are not insured by the property owners against loss or damage due to fire, theft, vandalism, rain, water, criminal or negligent acts of others, or any other cause. Please read and understand our policies before making your reservation.

 

Silverspoon's picture
Offline
Joined:
10/16/2011

I agree, stick by your housekeeper.  You can regret that they lost this item and suggest that they do a more thorough search of their luggage, but I would not pay them a nickel.

 People are always leaving things behind.   We have had only one woman who lost a necklace while here and implied that we had taken it.  I remember that she was very careless with it, in fact she had it hanging on a mirror on the vanity in the bathroom at one point.  Since I am the housekeeper I know for sure that she misplaced it...it was not stolen....and I made that clear.  Every other guest who has left something valuable behind has contacted us and we have returned their items.  Those items, from shoes to pillows to bathing suits, that don't get claimed are given to the local charity. 

__________________

Gardens are not made by singing "Oh, how beautiful" and sitting in the shade.
Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

 

Offline
Joined:
10/07/2008

The first thing I would do is wait. Why does she claim the maid took them? Many of us have experienced similar when a guest believes they left somehting here only to find it once they get home.

I would have to implement some sort of a claim form if it was something costly and they are accusing theft.

Sorry this happened to you, not sure what I would do, I would need recpt of the shoes, in the first place, like an insurance company probably would!

__________________

Gluten free is never free. - Joey Bloggs

 

gillumhouse's picture
Offline
Joined:
05/22/2008

I found a pair of Rebocks under a cot. Kept them for a very long time - no calls and I was not calling them! Same for a really nice jacket left in a closet. It was a shame it was too small for me!

Have had calls about diamond earrings (one lost) and rings - I look and do not find so I figure it is in their luggage and if it was on the floor, it is in my vac bag and I do NOT go there!

Joey Camb's picture
Offline
Joined:
04/02/2010

the weirdest thing was I had a jacket left by the daughter of one of our guests - the daughter lived very close thats why they were staying. We found the jacket rang the parents who said she was going to pop round and get it - never did and that was about 2 years ago - was an expensive jacket.

Offline
Joined:
10/07/2008

camberleyhotelharrogate@yahoo.co.uk wrote:

the weirdest thing was I had a jacket left by the daughter of one of our guests - the daughter lived very close thats why they were staying. We found the jacket rang the parents who said she was going to pop round and get it - never did and that was about 2 years ago - was an expensive jacket.

Odd.

...and then there was the old ugly worn out black belt (not comfortable worn like a leather jacket either) that the minister left and had his daughter come by and get for him and post it back. It was one of those items I would never in my wildest dreams consider to post back to anyone, it was nothing unusual, or brand.  That was about 10 emails/phone calls to sort it out and then waiting for her and finally a month later with "said belt" in my laundry room I finally called and said "It is out on the porch wicker by the front door, come and get it"  She works 2 blocks from here, literally 2 blocks walk.

Offline
Joined:
06/24/2008

Joey Bloggs wrote:

camberleyhotelharrogate@yahoo.co.uk wrote:

the weirdest thing was I had a jacket left by the daughter of one of our guests - the daughter lived very close thats why they were staying. We found the jacket rang the parents who said she was going to pop round and get it - never did and that was about 2 years ago - was an expensive jacket.

Odd.

...and then there was the old ugly worn out black belt (not comfortable worn like a leather jacket either) that the minister left and had his daughter come by and get for him and post it back. It was one of those items I would never in my wildest dreams consider to post back to anyone, it was nothing unusual, or brand.  That was about 10 emails/phone calls to sort it out and then waiting for her and finally a month later with "said belt" in my laundry room I finally called and said "It is out on the porch wicker by the front door, come and get it"  She works 2 blocks from here, literally 2 blocks walk.

An old worn T-shirt of the NY Yankees that the owner called said they were coming back for but did not; 4 mths later emailed and asked for it to be sent to him.  He sent me a box of Girl Scout cookies as TY.   And as I type I am reminded of an old frayed quilt that was left & I called within minutes of their departure.  Too much in a hurry to swing back for but they would be back this way in a couple of weeks.... that has been several couple of months and it is still here. 

Country Girl's picture
Offline
Joined:
02/20/2009

copperhead wrote:

Joey Bloggs wrote:

camberleyhotelharrogate@yahoo.co.uk wrote:

the weirdest thing was I had a jacket left by the daughter of one of our guests - the daughter lived very close thats why they were staying. We found the jacket rang the parents who said she was going to pop round and get it - never did and that was about 2 years ago - was an expensive jacket.

Odd.

...and then there was the old ugly worn out black belt (not comfortable worn like a leather jacket either) that the minister left and had his daughter come by and get for him and post it back. It was one of those items I would never in my wildest dreams consider to post back to anyone, it was nothing unusual, or brand.  That was about 10 emails/phone calls to sort it out and then waiting for her and finally a month later with "said belt" in my laundry room I finally called and said "It is out on the porch wicker by the front door, come and get it"  She works 2 blocks from here, literally 2 blocks walk.

An old worn T-shirt of the NY Yankees that the owner called said they were coming back for but did not; 4 mths later emailed and asked for it to be sent to him.  He sent me a box of Girl Scout cookies as TY.   And as I type I am reminded of an old frayed quilt that was left & I called within minutes of their departure.  Too much in a hurry to swing back for but they would be back this way in a couple of weeks.... that has been several couple of months and it is still here. 

All NY Yankees paraphernalia left here would be burned 

__________________

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

 

Madeleine's picture
Offline
Joined:
09/29/2011

Country Girl wrote:

All NY Yankees paraphernalia left here would be burned 

You could always send it to me...Bronx girl that I am...

Highlands John's picture
Offline
Joined:
04/16/2010

We've had people phone to say they've left mobile phones or jewelery in the rooms, we don't find them and then they phone back and say they've found the item in their suitcase or in the car,......etc.

 

__________________

If you wanted hotel facilities you should have booked a hotel and paid hotel prices!!!

 

Flower's picture
Offline
Joined:
06/19/2011

Say something like send me a picture of you wearing the shoes and I will do my darnest to look for them. As I not sure what your shoes look like. 

I have had some people leave one shoe here . I keep it for a month then if I have not heard from them then , I throw it  out.

__________________

Flower

 

seashanty's picture
Offline
Joined:
06/02/2008

i am guessing these are designer shoes ... they easily cost $250 a pair.  like christian louboutin ... up to over $1000. a pair.  not just some old pair of shoes like i wear.

you must stand by your staff. 

apparently this is a big problem for larger hotels ... theft of guest property.  maybe this is why the guest suspects the worse.

the guest might file a police report or claim for loss against your place.  i don't know.  but i would not pay money to the guest from my pocket.

let us know what happens.

 

 

Offline
Joined:
06/24/2008

Used shoes are not an item that anyone would steal.  Jewerly, electronics etc., but not used shoes! 

I agree with Mattie.  Do not state that they are lying but state the integrity of your maid, how long they have worked for you and that there have been no other incidents of this nature.  Offer to help them look, tell them you will ask the maid if she recalls seeing the shoes, she could have set them out of the way while cleaning. 

It has been pounded in our heads that the customer is always right, but we all know after being in business for awhile that it is not always the case and good employees are hard to come by.  Stand up for your employee while trying to be sympathetic. 

Madeleine's picture
Offline
Joined:
09/29/2011

It's very hard when a guest claims someone has stolen from them at your inn. You trust your housekeeper or you would not have hired her and kept her working for you. That is how you have to explain it to your guest. 'Our housekeeper has been with us a long time and we would not keep her working here if we did not trust her. We will help look for your shoes, but we cannot pay you for the lost shoes.'

Don't say the guest is lying. The shoes are probably in her suitcase or in the car or she left them somewhere, maybe even home. She may not have packed the shoes!

We had a guest accuse us of keeping her diamond earring that she said she lost. She was sure it was still in the room and we were not returning it to her. It made me feel awful, but the guest lost it, not me.

Generic's picture
Offline
Joined:
02/24/2011

I agree. Don't even suggest that it was the help. Help look for it. They likely left it elsewhere. I have a few extra shoes in the house from guests who left us just one.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.