Wednesday, November 25, 2015         


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Don’t blame hotel for prank fire alarm

By Lesley Carlin


Question: I was in a hotel in another city because I had a job interview there early the next morning. The hotel’s fire alarm went off in the middle of the night. I had to walk down several flights of stairs and huddle outside from 2:15 to 3 a.m., until the fire department gave the all-clear. It turned out some kids who were staying at the hotel with their sports team pulled the alarm as a prank. I think I should ask the hotel chain’s customer-service department for some compensation (like a free night or a bunch of loyalty-program points) because I didn’t get the good night’s sleep I paid for on a night when I desperately needed it. What do you think?

Answer: That sounds very annoying — definitely the last thing you need before a job interview! If I were in your shoes, I would have expected the hotel to tell you what happened and say they’re sorry you were awakened, but if kids pulled the fire alarm as a prank, that’s not the hotel’s fault.

Let’s say you’re staying in a hotel and there’s a huge thunderstorm. The power goes out, so you can’t answer important work-related emails. Should the hotel have to comp your stay? I don’t think so. If the power goes out because the hotel’s wiring is outdated, however, then you have a case to ask for compensation.

With the fire alarm at your hotel, there was no malfunction. In fact, the hotel’s system did exactly what it was supposed to do, which is to wake you up and get you the heck out of the building. You can’t really fault the hotel for that, even though you didn’t get a good night’s sleep. I’d just let it go and be grateful there wasn’t an actual fire.

Email travel etiquette questions to Lesley Carlin at

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