Can a hotel charge £100 for alleged damage on my debit card without pre-authorisation

Hi, we recently stayed in a pub with rooms in England with our two dogs, and about thirty minutes after we checked out, they charged £100 to my debit card for extra cleaning costs. We booked by phone and we didn't sign any registration form or agree to their Terms and Conditions, which we found on two A4 sheets in the room itself, after we'd paid. This potential charge wasn't mentioned to us either on the phone or in person when the staff member showed us our room. Are they able to do this, without our knowledge or authorisation? We queried it with them and asked what the charge was for exactly, and they said that the room smelled bad, and that £100 was the minimum possible charge. They invited us to return to the hotel but they'd already cleaned the room by that point. If we had decided not to stay, on reading the Terms and Conditions after we'd paid and arrived in the room, would we have been entitled to a full refund? Any advice would be much appreciated.

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  • sheramber
    sheramber Posts: 18,649
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    If we had decided not to stay, on reading the Terms and Conditions after we'd paid and arrived in the room, would we have been entitled to a full refund? Any advice would be much appreciated.

    but you didn't,  so it doesn't make any difference to the current situation?

    Where did you find details of the pub?
  • Do you dispute the pub's claim?
  • sheramber said:
    If we had decided not to stay, on reading the Terms and Conditions after we'd paid and arrived in the room, would we have been entitled to a full refund? Any advice would be much appreciated.

    but you didn't,  so it doesn't make any difference to the current situation?

    Where did you find details of the pub?

    We've stayed there previously and got their phone number from the website. We had to ring to check which rooms allowed dogs. We'd like to know this for future reference. We assumed that they would keep our payment if we left, as we wanted to.
  • Do you dispute the pub's claim?

    Yes, and we still are. The charity that owns the dogs are going to reimburse us for the £100 charge, but we don't think this is fair. We asked them repeatedly to provide the photographic evidence of damage that they claimed to have. They took the payment without our permission. If we'd booked online, we wouldn't have been able to proceed to book the room without clicking a box to confirm that we agreed with the Terms and Conditions. Nothing similar happened while booking by phone, so it seems to be an error on their part.
  • sheramber
    sheramber Posts: 18,649
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    How would they photograph a smell?

    There doesn't have to be damage  for a room to smell of dogs.  The smell comes from the oils on the dogs' coats and sticks to furnishings like carpets, bedding etc.  You may not smell it as you are used to it, but others will smell it.

    We always took large sheets with us which we spread on the floor  to protect the carpets. They had their own bedding and were not allowed on the bed.



  • I think your best bet would be to have a calm and amicable conversation with the hotel manager.  Include the facts that you are repeat customers and that if the charge isn't reimbursed, it will be a cost to a charity.  Be pleasant and polite and you may be able to get them to drop the matter.

    However, I would say that the disclosure that the dogs are from a charity rang alarm bells with me - possibly unfairly; but we have rescue dogs and they arrived from the shelter smelling very "doggy".  Now that may not be the case with your dogs but are you sure? The effort involved in getting a room ready to re-let and smelling fresh could well justify the fee if it smelled of dogs.
  • sheramber said:
    How would they photograph a smell?

    There doesn't have to be damage  for a room to smell of dogs.  The smell comes from the oils on the dogs' coats and sticks to furnishings like carpets, bedding etc.  You may not smell it as you are used to it, but others will smell it.

    We always took large sheets with us which we spread on the floor  to protect the carpets. They had their own bedding and were not allowed on the bed.




    They mentioned that the £100 was due to a small initially, then stated that they had photos of 'stains'. After a week of asking, they provided two photos of what looked like damp patches on a carpet, but we couldn't tell if this was our room. Apparently, all dogs shed minute particles called dander, so presumably the £15 charge per night per dog is intended to cover the cleaning related to this. It isn't exactly damage, but an inevitable part of being a dog-friendly hotel. They had six hours to air the room before the next guest checked in. The dogs had their own bedding and weren't allowed on the furniture or bed.
  • I think your best bet would be to have a calm and amicable conversation with the hotel manager.  Include the facts that you are repeat customers and that if the charge isn't reimbursed, it will be a cost to a charity.  Be pleasant and polite and you may be able to get them to drop the matter.

    However, I would say that the disclosure that the dogs are from a charity rang alarm bells with me - possibly unfairly; but we have rescue dogs and they arrived from the shelter smelling very "doggy".  Now that may not be the case with your dogs but are you sure? The effort involved in getting a room ready to re-let and smelling fresh could well justify the fee if it smelled of dogs.

    The pub is well aware that they taking £100 from a charity.

    We have been the long-term foster carers of the dogs since January 2021. The pub has charged a total of £130 for the  cleaning of the room, which we don't think is justified. They claim that they cannot charge less than £100 for any damage to the room or anything that requires extra cleaning. This means that a broken cup would cost the guest £100. We have realised that not only did we not express our agreement to the Terms and Conditions, as we would have had to do in order to book online, but their term of a minimum charge of £100 for what they consider damage is not a fair term. We think they are confusing the fact that they can charge people who leave without paying, or who fail to pay their bar/restaurant bill, an exact amount, with simply taking £100. This is clearly open to abuse, and we have no way of telling how many people they are doing this to. Most people would simply pay up, as you say, and blame the dogs, but this is actually fraud, as we did not authorise this payment, by ticking the T&Cs as part of our contract with them.
  • Grumpy_chap
    Grumpy_chap Posts: 14,437
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    cassonsue said:
    We booked by phone and we didn't sign any registration form or agree to their Terms and Conditions, which we found on two A4 sheets in the room itself, after we'd paid. 
    cassonsue said:
    We've stayed there previously and got their phone number from the website. 
    If you have stayed there previously, then are the Ts&Cs any different to the previous stay?
    You seem to have accepted these by staying after reading them rather than immediately checking out.

    It is not unusual for accommodation providers to hold the CC details and charge and damage found after the guests have departed.  It is not really practical for every room to be inspected by housekeeping between the guest leaving the room and checking out at the front desk.

    If I was the following guest and the room smelled of dog on entry, I would certainly be saying something to the hotel or moving elsewhere.

    I don't understand why the charity should be paying the £100 or £130 or whatever the charge came to.
  • Vectis
    Vectis Posts: 660
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    Unfortunately, dogs do smell. As has been previously said, if you're a dog owner (or whatever in your case) you undoubtably won't smell it yourself, or how bad it can be, because you're used to it. Other people will, though.

    If I was the next person staying in the hotel room after several dogs had been staying there, I would certainly expect it to have been thoroughly cleaned before we arrived - and that doesn't simply mean 'airing the room' for a few hours. I would not expect to have to sleep in a room smelling of dogs.

    £100 to thoroughly clean a room after several dogs doesn't sound outrageous, to be honest. How much would you expect to pay if you asked professionals to come into your home and deep-clean the lounge, for instance, to get rid of any dog odours? It would probably be well over £100.

    I honestly don't think you've got much of an argument. Paying for cleaning is part and parcel of taking dogs to many hotels, unless you specifically book a 'dog friendly' hotel. If you leave any hotel in a state that needs anything over and above the standard cleaning, you will be charged for it. That would be reasonable to most people, surely? And, certainly dog smells, and possibly stains, are certainly over and above what you could normally expect in a hotel room.

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