Ann and Mike Feichter, gablesmu@muohio.edu

I thought that your readers might be interested in knowing that in Ohio a hotel or motel can fine you $250 if they “suspect” you’ve been smoking in a non-smoking room. At least this is what we were told by Oxford’s Comfort Inn. No physical evidence necessary, no notification prior to charging your credit card, no concern for due process, no nothing. It turns out “Notification” is finding the $250 charge on the credit card statement.

This is what happened to us during a recent stay in Oxford. My husband and I returned to my alma mater to participate in the recent triathlon sponsored by the school’s student association. We checked into the Comfort Inn on Friday, April 15, spent the night and participated in the event on Saturday morning. I was thankful the Inn had a noon checkout, which allowed us to return and shower before we left for the Akron area.

“Thankful” is not what I’m feeling now.

Five days after the event we received a charge on our credit card for an additional $250.

Upon calling the credit card company to disavow this charge, we were told that the Oxford Comfort Inn posted it. A subsequent series of calls to them uncovered the nefarious plot: we were being charged (fined) $250 for smoking in our room with a  “sorry, no refund, no recourse!”

It seems all it takes is a consensus of motel management and staff that the room smelled like someone smoked in the room and you’re guilty, that’s the law.

Needless to say that we had not smoked in the room. We are non-smokers as are all of our friends who also had rooms there.

All of this begs the very apparent question: Is there a scam going on here? Even if such a law exists, doesn’t such a statute propagate stealing from unknowing customers? This is no better than going into our room and lifting our wallets. I can only presume that the Comfort Inn has so much business they don’t have to depend on repeat customers or word of mouth notoriety regarding their lack of principle.

Rest assured, we will not let this die. Aside from telling anyone and everyone about our experience, we will be pursuing whatever legal steps necessary, sending a complaint to the Better Business Bureau, and notifying the university of the Comfort Inn’s illicit practices.

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