The Bedbug Letter to Choice Hotels

Sooooo, before I print this and mail it to Choice Hotels, do any of you have any edits you think I should make? Perhaps stronger language, not so polite??! I also sent "customer comments regarding my recent stay" via their website this evening.

January 12, 2010

Choice Hotels International
Guest Relations Service Center
P.O. Box 1748
Minot, ND 5801

Re: Unsatisfactory Comfort Inn Stay

To Whom It May Concern:

Unfortunately, I find I must write this letter to document a more than unsatisfactory recent stay at a Comfort Inn in Indiana. I found myself in a situation that would be every hotel guest’s worst nightmare – unwanted and unwelcome guests were waiting in my hotel room on the evening of January 5th, 2010.

Some background: I make two annual trips to Ohio to visit family and friends. Over the past year, I have been staying at the Comfort Inn brand, as I found it satisfactory and usually quite clean. I have stayed at the Plainfield, Indiana, location several times now. My perception was that it was newer and very clean.

Last Tuesday this perception was shattered to smithereens. I woke around midnight, quite warm, and so I arose to turn down the room heat. As I walked into the bathroom, I could see in the large mirror that there were numerous bugs on my pajama top. Needless to say, I rapidly pulled off my pajamas, including my underwear. You can imagine my dismay, chagrin, and utter disgust when I found a bug INSIDE my underwear. I walked back to look at the bed, and lo and behold… bedbugs, all over the pillows and the sheets. Mind you, not just a few, but probably upwards of 15-20. Hindsight is 20/20, and I now wish I would have taken a photo. But I’m sure you can imagine my scattered and fragmented mind at that point in time.

After ensuring there were no more bedbugs on me or in my hair, I dressed and went down to the front desk. The night clerk was on her cell phone and there was a customer walking away from the desk. I waited until that customer was out of earshot, then I calmly told the night clerk my predicament. She offered me another room – upon my inspection, this room was quite unsatisfactory. There was a rag laying on the floor when I walked into the room, another rag laying on the bathroom floor, newspaper spread out all over the bathroom vanity, along with a ceiling fixture laying on the bathroom vanity and obviously in the middle of repair.

I went back to the front desk and told her this room was not satisfactory, upon which she asked to see my room with the bedbugs. I took her upstairs and her only response upon seeing the bedbugs on the bed was “Eww”. At that time I told her I would be checking out and would like a refund.

My pajamas were still lying on the bathroom floor, so I inspected them and was sure to remove every bedbug I could see before I put them into the laundry bag provided in my hotel room. I threw the bag into the back of my car and left it there for the next 3 days; since we were having subzero temperatures, I assumed any remaining bedbugs would be killed by the cold. On the contrary, upon dumping my clothes into the utility sink at my mother’s house 3 days later, there was still one surviving bug. We washed my pajamas in hot water, but to this day they still sit in the back of my car as I am afraid to wear them again.

When I went down to the front desk to check out, the night clerk had me sign a memo to the manager indicating the bedbug situation in my room. She said she was putting the memo on his desk so he would see it first thing in the morning. I thought he might call me to apologize, but he did not contact me.

Page two
Re: Unsatisfactory Comfort Inn Stay

I ended up staying at a Hometown Suites by Hilton for the remainder of the night. It was quite a sleepless night, as I woke up almost every half hour and checked my new bed for any signs of bugs. Upon my return trip to Ohio on January 11/12, I stayed at a Quality Inn in Kansas City and again, found it difficult to sleep. I left a light on in the room, and every time I awoke, I would check the bed sheets to be sure there were no bugs.

Bottom line: It’s going to take some time for me to feel comfortable in ANY hotel room again. I have always checked the bed before I would make myself comfortable but I have never seen anything. Trust me, I did check the bed at the Comfort Inn in Indiana before I retired on January 5th, but I did not see anything before I turned out the lights that would merit any concern on my part.

I was shocked and disappointed in the Comfort Inn brand, and I hope that you will take the necessary steps to ensure this terrible experience does not happen to future hotel guests at any of your hotel brands.

Best regards,

Susan D. Garten


  1. Oh my, what a dreadful experience. I think your letter is great and explains what happened perfectly.

    The only suggestion I have is that you end the letter requesting that someone contact you directly about this matter. It would allow you to emphasize what happened again to a big whig and also let them know that you have an interest in what actions are taken to prevent this from happening again.

    I hope you sleep better soon.

  2. Oh you poor thing. We had a bad experience at a Comfort Inn and wrote a letter and never got any response. Good luck to you. I always tear back the sheets and pull the rim of the mattress down to check for bedbugs. Hubby thinks I'm nuts but I'm just scared!

    Have a great day and pleeeze don't let the bed bugs bite!!!

  3. Not strong enough as far as I'm concerned but obviously, if you got too far there is a danger that they will simply retaliate without actually listening to your concerns. Well written Suz. I can sympathise...I once stayed in a Days Inn on International Drive Florida and when picking up my phone charger from underneath the bed also managed to pick up a used condom from the previous guest - LOVELY! NOT! x

  4. Oh what an awful experience, I just can not imagine! I think your letter is very well written, detailed and gets the point across.

  5. I agree with Slamdunk. The letter is great, but I would want someone to contact me. I also agree with Toni that if you got too strong, it would make matters worse for you. It's a VERY good letter. Please keep all of us up to date on what happens. Let's see how long it takes for them to respond back to you. Good luck sweetie.

  6. very well written letter! I hope they will be in contact with you!!
    At least to let you know they are SORRY for such a thing happening.
    Take care

  7. I strongly suggest you also send a copy to the health dept. in that county. They need to be aware of the situation. Also, the BBB. If they know YOU are serious about making a stink, they will make the changes nessecary ti ensure this is a healthy place for all to stay. I cannot imagine an elderly person or child being bitten by these bugs, and bouncing back quickly from infection!
    Let the hotel chain know you have forwarded this info to the appropriate agencies!!

    xo, misha

  8. Oh my..i hope my husband doesn't see this post...he is paranoid about this!!! I didn't realize you could actually see the bugs...thought they were more like no-see-ums. Just another reason to bring our little vintage trailer with our OWN cozy little bed with us on our travels. Good luck on a response...thinking most of these Comfort Inns and such are now owned by foriegners.

  9. I agree with the post before me. That is not something to be taken lightly. We have a dog here a beagle that sniffs out the varmints! He did a demonstration on tv one morning. I think he should make a round of all the Comfort Inns don't you? I do believe you deserve an apology the manager should have taken care of that right away. Go get em girl.

  10. I agree that you should cc: the letter to the health dept. and BBB. Make sure and note it at the end of the letter with cc: (courtesy copies) so they will be aware that you sent them.

    (number 15


  11. sounds like a great letter...if you don't get a quick response I would also contact the health department...

  12. Very good letter. You get the point across without a lot of emotionalism - which would certainly be understandable, but would NOT get thier attention. I agree that you might want to end it with something like "I request that you contact me immediately". I would not CC the health department or better business bureau. I would give them a chance to contact you and explain how they will handle this. If it's not satisfactory, or they don't contact you, I would write them another letter and CC those agencies. Bed bugs do NOT necessarily mean a place is dirty or not well cared for. I don't have bed bugs, but we occassionally have to deal with mice. We are NOT dirty. It's just something that happens and we take care of it and patch up any holes. It happens - but if it's something that is not dealt with..... well THAT'S a problem. Ask that they call, and when if they do, ask what they are doing to rememdy the issue. If they DON'T call or give a satisfactory answer, well, then it's time to get others involved.

    My 1 cent,

  13. If you don't really want to talk with them because you're afraid you'll blow your stack, that's understandable, since some big wigs like to make you feel like you're the one at fault. (Ran into that situation in a restaurant, myself.)

    One thing I've learned though, is tell them what you want as compensation. If you want them to pay to replace your pajamas, tell them that and how much you want them to pay. If you want an answer from them, give them a deadline to get it to you. And you can either cc the health department, or threaten to contact the BBB and the health department if you don't hear from them by the specified deadline.

    Your letter sounds great ... I don't think it's too emotional at all. Anyone who runs into bedbugs has a right to sound disgusted!

  14. It is even more of a nightmare reading the experience again in your letter.
    I will be interested in the response. Personally I thought you were far nicer than I would have been in the circumstances. You make your points well however and I guess you can see what they say - you can then be less nice!
    I am itching all the way over in Scotland.

  15. Everyone has very good comments about your great letter. As a Hotel owner myself, I would WANT to know this info as I really am sure the Comfort Brand would want to know. Most Hotels are franchises and although they have standards set to follow by the corporate office not all franchisee's do and it is hard to police all the hotels all the time. Comfort Inns cannot afford to have something like this happen and should be willing to hear your story graciously and offer a sincere appology to you. They have to protect their flag from operators who do not follow the standards!!!

  16. ewww this is a really gross thing - normally only associated with really cheap hostels ! god luck with your letter - seems very sound to me - best Le

  17. Yikes.....I am scratching my head just thinking about it. I have never had bedbugs in all the years I have been traveling. Wow.....I just can't get over it. I hope you get a quick response and some resolution.

  18. I can't wait to see what kind of response you get from this letter. I feel a lot of the filth in the hotels these days are because people who own them aren't from cultures that care that much about cleanliness. Yep, I've probably stepped on some toes here but it's true. I hope you get some satisfaction out of this in then end and at least keep someone else from going through the same thing. HUGS

  19. For some reason I could not comment last night?! Anyway I felt it needed to be stronger, possibly even give the impression you could take it further and it needed to tell them what you wanted in compensation.

    But let's see what happens.

  20. Being brutally honest - I think the best complaint letters are short and snappy - :(

  21. OMG! Thats disgusting! I am itchy just reading your post! My husband and I are headed to OKC and Texas this next weekend for a whole week! UGH I am dreading the overnights... I think I will bring clorox, lysol and my own sheets!

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  24. great information. being brutally honest. i think the best complaint letters are short and snappy. thanks for sharing these information with all of us.