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Canadian Hotel Sues Guest For $95K Over Bad Review, Bed Bugs 432

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-let-the-connoisseurs-bite dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A guest at at Quebec hotel was bitten by bed bugs, brought some down to the front desk and asked for new room. While the fully booked hotel offers to get him another room in a different hotel, he stays out the night then leaves — telling people at the hotel — some of whom also check out. When he wrote about it on Trip Advisor, the hotel demanded he take it down and when he did they sued him for $95,000."
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Canadian Hotel Sues Guest For $95K Over Bad Review, Bed Bugs

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  • Free speech (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MooseTick (895855) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @06:14PM (#44648413) Homepage

    Free speech is for those people who know how to keep their mouths shut!

    • by GrBear (63712) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @06:18PM (#44648447)

      It was more likely he was sued because his review wasn't bilingual. This IS Quebec we're talking about afterall.

      • Re:Free speech (Score:5, Informative)

        by JustOK (667959) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @06:56PM (#44648889) Journal

        Quebec is NOT bilingual.

        • by sabri (584428) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @08:28PM (#44649763)
          Bilingual or not, he posted in English:

          Quote: [tripadvisor.fr]

          âoeBed bugs in our bedâ 1 5 étoiles Avis écrit le 27 avril 2013 Google Traduction At first this hotel looks ok....until you wake up in the middle of the night at 3:00AM because you've been scratching all over and realize your bed is infested with BED BUGS!

          What a nightmare! When I reported the situation to the managing stuff, there were no emergency to handle the situation because the decision maker was not available during the week end and it was a Saturday.
          Instead they offered to transfer my son and I to a hotel nearby where a room was available because they were concerned I was going to cause Mayhem
          They finally offered to investigate the room despite the 4 BED BUGS I had contained in a glass and pictures and videos I had showed them.
          I was supposed to stay one more night but instead chose to move to a hotel nearby; turned out to be cleaner-up to date-bigger room- and cheaper rate and that was the Holiday Inn Express down the road at 3145 Avenue de Hotels.
          Beware of BED BUGS! If you are looking for a scratch free night sleep, stay elsewhere, you will be doing you and your loved ones a favour! Trust me...and that's why the Internet is a great tool!

          Séjour du Avril 2013 - voyage en famille

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Myopic (18616) *

          Of course it is. People there speaks both French and Douchebag.

          Actually the one friend I have from Quebec doesn't even speak one word of French or Douchebag, but he's the exception.

      • I live in Quebec and I can assure you this is not funny.

    • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @06:42PM (#44648727) Homepage Journal

      Free speech is for those people who know how to keep their mouths shut!

      C-eh-N-eh-D-eh, not YOOSA

  • by davebarnes (158106) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @06:15PM (#44648427) Homepage

    When will businesses learn?
    I know, never.

  • by Joining Yet Again (2992179) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @06:17PM (#44648441)

    I read somewhere that it is shit.

    is it true that the Hotel Quebec is shit?

    Could it be that it's full of cockroaches, and that the waiters ejaculate into the food?

    Has anyone said that the manager hurls racial abuse at his staff and non-white customers?

    Did anyone find any reports about guests having their personal property stolen by the room cleaners?

    • by Shoten (260439) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @06:40PM (#44648711)

      I read somewhere that it is shit.

      is it true that the Hotel Quebec is shit?

      Could it be that it's full of cockroaches, and that the waiters ejaculate into the food?

      Has anyone said that the manager hurls racial abuse at his staff and non-white customers?

      Did anyone find any reports about guests having their personal property stolen by the room cleaners?

      I did know this one waiter there.

      "Do not watch. I can't go if you watch."

      Apart from seasoning the lobster bisque, he farted on the meringue, sneezed on braised endive, and as for the cream of mushroom soup, well...

      (chuckling in the background)

      "Go ahead. Say it."

      You get the idea.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 22, 2013 @06:17PM (#44648443)

    "the hotel demanded he take it down and when he did they sued him for $95,000.""
    should be
    "the hotel demanded he take it down and when he didn't, they sued him for $95,000.""

  • by fructose (948996) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @06:19PM (#44648461) Homepage

    Assuming that the story the guest told was true (and it seems it was, based on the hotel admitting it), how can the hotel possibly win when the reviewer is stating facts? If the review was completely made up, I would assume libel laws would side with the hotel. But when the whole situation is based on facts, and the reviewer is merely passing those facts on to the public, how can the hotel even expect to win?

    The article is right, the hotel should have helped him out more from the get go instead of trying to do damage control.

    • by gp824 (1146751) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @06:39PM (#44648707)
      Don't assume that civil law suits will be treated how they are in the US or in any other provinces in Canada. Quebec treats civil suits under French civil law.... a complex different system that we are used to. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quebec_law [wikipedia.org]
      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        Don't assume that civil law suits will be treated how they are in the US or in any other provinces in Canada. Quebec treats civil suits under French civil law.... a complex different system that we are used to.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Louisiana [wikipedia.org]
        They don't use English Common Law as the basis for their system either.
        Must make life interesting for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

    • by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Thursday August 22, 2013 @07:42PM (#44649375) Journal

      I don't advocate the hotel's position here for one minute, but I think they might have a case under willful defamation.... even though true, the facts were publicly presented with malicious intent to publicly discredit them, where they were presumably making every effort to resolve the situation once they became aware of it.

      I suspect it might come down to who has the better lawyer.

  • Summary is wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tompaulco (629533) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @06:22PM (#44648505) Homepage Journal
    The summary says he took the review down and then they sued him. The article says he did not take the review down. I will admit that I wasn't immediately able to find the review, but there are three others on tripadvisor about the Hotel Quebec having bedbugs. It is a chain, though so not sure if it is the same one.
    Aren't bedbugs really tiny and hard to see? Isn't it more likely that these were not bedbugs the species, but some kind of other bugs on the bed?
    • by davebarnes (158106) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @06:24PM (#44648537) Homepage

      "At first this hotel looks ok....until you wake up in the middle of the night at 3:00AM because you've been scratching all over and realize your bed is infested with BED BUGS!
      What a nightmare! When I reported the situation to the managing stuff, there were no emergency to handle the situation because the decision maker was not available during the week end and it was a Saturday.
      Instead they offered to transfer my son and I to a hotel nearby where a room was available because they were concerned I was going to cause Mayhem
      They finally offered to investigate the room despite the 4 BED BUGS I had contained in a glass and pictures and videos I had showed them.
      I was supposed to stay one more night but instead chose to move to a hotel nearby; turned out to be cleaner-up to date-bigger room- and cheaper rate and that was the Holiday Inn Express down the road at 3145 Avenue de Hotels.
      Beware of BED BUGS! If you are looking for a scratch free night sleep, stay elsewhere, you will be doing you and your loved ones a favour! Trust me...and that's why the Internet is a great tool!
              Stayed April 2013, traveled with family"

    • Re:Summary is wrong (Score:5, Informative)

      by rahvin112 (446269) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @07:28PM (#44649231)

      There is a seriously major bed bug infestation going on right now on the east coast of North America. There hasn't been this large of a problem with bed bugs in this area for more than 60+ years.

      If the person is being bit it is most likely bed bugs. They are parasites that suck blood and because of this they are far worse than cockroaches, they also tend to breed as fast as roaches. The very presence in one room indicates they are present or will soon be present everywhere in the building. Standard treatment protocol for bed bugs is to spray not only the dwelling they are in but every adjacent dwelling area. In an apartment building this would mean the apartment in question plus all the surrounding apartments including above and below. Its not unusual to require treating the entire floor they are found on but the floor above and below as well.

      Bed bugs are nasty business.

  • by slashmydots (2189826) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @06:22PM (#44648511)
    If it was me the hotel was suing, I'd tell them to take up the complaint up with my department of go fuck yourself, of which Barbara Streissand is the department head.
    • It's Quebec (french-inspired) legal system, so who knows.

      But were it the US, you could end up being the butt end of a default judgement against you.

  • by generic_screenname (2927777) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @06:22PM (#44648515)
    I will never stay at a hotel that responds to a complaint on the internet with a $95k lawsuit.
  • by JoeyRox (2711699) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @06:28PM (#44648577)
    I realize the negative publicity they received from his Trip Advisor review has hurt their business but by filing the lawsuit they're guaranteeing that every person who hasn't read the review will now become aware of their bed bug problem. And with the hotel not denying there were bedbugs the lawsuit is a horrible idea.
  • Clearly .... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by King_TJ (85913) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @06:30PM (#44648593) Journal

    You're not allowed to remove the bed bugs from the room, since they count as hotel property. If he would have just put them back after showing the front desk, maybe none of this would have happened?

    But seriously, businesses are really getting fixated on maintaining good appearances via social media these days. They view the whole thing as a marketing/advertising playground for them, so honest review sites with negative reviews are a real thorn in the side for them. I don't think the hotel has any legal grounds for this lawsuit if the review is truthful .... but that doesn't mean it won't try intimidation tactics anyway.

    It amazes me how companies pay people to watch Twitter feeds like a hawk these days. You can be a Twitter user who never tweets a single thing and basically has no followers. But if you have problems with a product or service and figure out the right name to tag on a tweet to get the company's attention? They're almost always right on top of replying and trying to do damage control. Never-mind the fact that same user might have posted something just as negative over on Facebook or elsewhere, and the company never so much as notices that comment.

  • Yesterday vs. Today (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 22, 2013 @06:32PM (#44648603)

    Yesterday: I figured there were hotels in Canada, but I never really thought about it.

    Today: If I ever go to Canada, I'd better avoid the Hotel Quebec, because those bastards have bedbugs and sue people out of house and home rather than fix their problems. Either that, or the place attracts crazies with some pathology that causes them to make things up. Regardless, I'll just avoid it.

  • by mirix (1649853) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @06:49PM (#44648795)

    They really need to come up with a new insecticide for bed bugs.

    When I was a kid, bed bugs were some sort of myth, they just didn't exist anymore, like smallpox.
    That just may have been because I grew up in BFE, though, with almost no immigration and little international travel. Now they are widespread through Canadian cities, not just flophouses either.

    Current ways of killing them seem to be:
    1. pyrethin? (plant based) insecticide, they are more or less immune
    2. something else, but has to be applied by extermintor 3 times to kill, as it doesn't kill eggs. Cheapass slumlords never pay for three treatments, so this solves nothing, generally.
    3. Heat. Heating the whole apartment block to 45 degrees (uhh.. 110? or 120F) for an hour or two kills them all dead, including eggs. expensive.
    4. higher test stuff that is illegal to use indoors, maybe cause neurotoxicity or cancer or who knows what.

    Doesn't seem like anyone does research on this, maybe they do and I just don't know about it. I'd certainly say this is going to get worse before it gets better, though.

    • Re:New insecticide (Score:5, Informative)

      by suutar (1860506) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @07:05PM (#44648969)
      no, it's because DDT worked really well against bedbugs while it was legal. It's taken a while for the survivors to repopulate.
    • Re:New insecticide (Score:5, Interesting)

      by puppetman (131489) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @07:13PM (#44649079) Homepage

      What about diatomaceous earth? It's fossilized algae, and a natural insecticide, absorbing the lipids from the exoskeletons of insects.

      I've read that if you pull your bed from the wall, take 4 empty/clean tuna cans with diatomaceous earth in them, and put one under each leg of the bed, you can get rid of them. They crawl in and out of it on their way to feast on you.

      If I had them, in addition to the cans-under-legs, I'd be dusting the floors, the sheets, the bed-frame, the bed-boards, the electrical sockets, etc, to get rid of them.

      There was also a BBC show, either Edwardian Farm, or Victorian Farm, where they showed the housewife scrubbing bed frames down twice a year with lye to keep them under control.

      • by beckett (27524)
        the building i lived in recently had performed a treatment with diatomaceous earth when my neighbor had an outbreak. they used a bulb duster to poot DE into the power outlets, under the floor moulding, under the beds and the radiator, and across the gaps in the front door. I have a dust allergy, and did not even notice the treatment, which was done in about 10 minutes.

        the small shards of the diatom's silica skeleton cut the bed bugs apart, but are harmless to people. Diatomaceous earth is the most effect
    • Re:New insecticide (Score:5, Informative)

      by tibit (1762298) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @07:27PM (#44649215)

      For all practical purposes there's no way, I repeat, no way to "heat the whole apartment block" to eradicate bed bugs. It's a myth perpetuated by the eradication industry. It's physically impossible unless you'd raise the building off the ground, isolate from all utilities, wrap air-tight with an insulating air gap between the plastic cover and the walls, and then heat up from inside. That's how I've seen someone get rid of a horrible infestation in a trailer home, and it's about the only way to pull it off. It did work, too - a year later, still no bed bugs. For normal buildings - forget it.

      You see, bed bugs scamper away from heat, and when you're heating a building up, there are always gradients that let the suckers find the way to the basement, the attached car garage, whatever. Good luck heating the concrete basement or other adjoining walls to 45C, as that would be necessary to really kill them. Never mind that most heat treatments do not isolate the walls from outside air, so the walls never get hot enough.

      The way heat-based bed bug eradication is normally done is you bring in a high-power space heater system that heats the air in the building. This is about the best scenario for bed bugs: due to slow heat exchange between hot air and the walls, the latter heat up slowly and let the bed bugs get out of the way before anything bad happens to them. That method doesn't kill any appreciable numbers of bed bugs, they simply go away for a while -- all the way to cracks and crevices in the foundation, if need be. It's then only a matter of time for the infestation to recover, as the suckers simply come back. Yes, their numbers will be reduced, but they'll come back all right.

      There is a big problem with how the heat-based methods are evaluated: the test methods don't address the issue of bed bugs simply relocating elsewhere.

      AFAIK, there are exactly zero pesticides that are approved for non-professional use the U.S. and that work against bed bugs. I repeat: ZERO. None. Nada. You're not buying anything unless you're licensed professional. The "higher test stuff" is not some nebulous thing either. There is exactly one category of insecticides that do work against bed bugs: organophosphates [usyd.edu.au]. Out of a whole lot of stuff, only one category. One that's highly regulated and universally toxic to pretty much anything with a nervous system, including humans. For all I know, if organophosphates came to be widely used against bed bugs, it'd be only a matter of time until those suckers found a way to cope with it, or even becoming totally immune. Perhaps whatever mutations would be responsible for it would also be of some use in humans - one can only hope.

      • Re:New insecticide (Score:4, Interesting)

        by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Thursday August 22, 2013 @08:43PM (#44649885) Journal

        For all practical purposes there's no way, I repeat, no way to "heat the whole apartment block" to eradicate bed bugs.

        I suppose I should tell my friend that she's working for a fictitious company then... since that's exactly what they do.

        The way heat-based bed bug eradication is normally done is you bring in a high-power space heater system that heats the air in the building.

        Well y'see, that's where things differ. The company my friend works at doesn't just do that... they practically put the entire building they are going to work on into what looks a lot like a huge-ass enormous sleeping bag. The whole building is evacuated, and they then go through the entire building, basically insulating the entire building from the outside environment with insulation, and then they pump the heat in. I've actually seen buildings that have gotten this done while the bags were in place, and based on what I saw for myself, I'd guess the process is at least a full day of labour for a whole team, maybe even two.

        I have no doubt that some heat escapes, but apparently not enough to keep them from maintaining the temperature for the necessary period. The company my friend works for guarantees their work, and she's told me that while she's worked there, nobody she knows of has complained that the treatment was ineffective.

        Good luck heating the concrete basement or other adjoining walls to 45C, as that would be necessary to really kill them

        That's apparently exactly what they do... but it is also apparently a VERY costly operation.

        You see, bed bugs scamper away from heat

        Yes... but the treatment this company does leaves the bugs with no place to scamper to. They are fully contained inside of the big insulated bag which is heated to the necessary temperatures and the temperature held there for quite a long time.

  • by multiben (1916126) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @06:50PM (#44648823)
    The hotel is clearly stupid and they will also lose this battle. But why did the customer refuse to move to another hotel? They chose to stay in a bed which they knew had bed bugs? And suggested that the hotel manager get down on her knees and beg him not to tell anyone? Sounds like a serial victim on a power trip to me. Can't wait for something bad to happen to them so they can become the outraged centre of attention.
    • by puppetman (131489)

      It was 3am - I guess they didn't want to pack up and move. Personally, I'm not sure how they got back to sleep.

  • I stayed at a hotel in Vegas recently, one right on the strip. While taking a dump one evening I caught motion out the corner of my eye and a bug larger than my thumb was found to be racing at me! I had to lift my feet for the damn thing to run by before it became trapped in the corner behind the toilet. The lights were full on too, he was bold as brass.

    I trapped the bastard in a glass and called down to the front desk a bit freaked out - it was after midnight. I explained there was a bug issue and they sent up some poor guy from maintenance, he arrived with a vacuum cleaner. Imagine his surprise when I showed him the bug! I told him I had no idea what it was and that I hoped it was some sort of weird mutant Vegas bug. His eyes big as saucers he told me "no sir, that's a cockaroach!". He stepped back out of the room and radioed his superiors - who told him they wanted him to bring the bug to them! (lol)

    He covered it with a washcloth and off he went none too happy. Management promptly called offering to move me but I was tired and declined, I spent the night with the lights on clothed.

    The next morning I went down to speak to a manager and was again offered a different room, I took one close by so I wouldn't have to schlep my stuff too far. Within the next three days I saw a "Do Not Disturb" sign back on that door. The room was out of service for maybe two nights and I was able to confirm this when I found it noted on my bill. Two days was all they spent cleaning up. Now this wasn't bed bugs which are hard as hell to kill but it was the largest roach I've ever seen and the damn thing had wings too! No way in hell did this sucker grow up and spend his life in that room and no way in hell did he get in through some sort of crack, I looked all over for possible entryways with a flashlight. This fucker HAD to have squeezed under the door from the adjoining room or from the hall - asshats leaving their room service out in the hall probably provided him a damn good sustenance.

    At the end of the day this hotel, which I had thought pretty decent, seemed pretty nonplussed by this whole thing and not the slightest bit embarrassed. Room out of service a bare minimum and no effort I could see to do anything about adjoining rooms or the source of this issue. I have to say I'm not sure I'll be staying there again!

    P.S. I used to travel with a blacklight. I found one or two memorable things with it and honestly I no longer carry it - some things I just don't want to know!

  • Interesting Anecdote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wbr1 (2538558) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @07:01PM (#44648937)
    My girlfriend and I take weekend trips often during the summer, and we use hotels.com to book lodging. While in Ohio earlier this summer, one of the places we stayed was terrible. No bedbugs, but poor repair, smelly room, bad service, the list goes on and on. IN addition, thier entry on hotels.com stated that they offered contentinal breakfast, which they did not.

    Upon returning from our trip, we decided to rate and write a hotels.com review to warn others. We were not disrespectful or profane. We stated the facts and our displeasure with them only. A week or so later, my GF noticed the review still had not posted. Then she received an email stating that it would not because it violated the TOS of hotels.com. No explanation of how, just that we had. There were no names given (except the name of the hotel), and as I stated earlier, nothing but facts about ther visit, and our displeasure (admittedly and opinion).

    I know where hotels.com gets its bread buttered now, and it is not from us customers. A chain hotel can exert much more fiscal pressure than a single customer.

    I am owed a free night from them, and I am thinking of booking hotels using another source after that, but will the result be any different? My cynical brain says no.

  • Other posts? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jklovanc (1603149) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @07:01PM (#44648945)

    If you look at the review site [tripadvisor.com] you will find a total of 28 reviews that grade the hotel as poor or terrible.Why only sue one reviewer?

    • Re:Other posts? (Score:5, Informative)

      by arashi no garou (699761) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @07:35PM (#44649291)

      Because bedbugs are the ultimate venereal disease of hotel chains. They are very difficult to get rid of, and even if the hotel manages to wipe them out, once word gets out no one will touch them. Basically, the hotel chain feels the guy cost them real money. Though in truth, the hotel cost themselves the money by having the infestation in the first place; this guy just happened to be the patron who spoke out about it.

  • SLAPP (Score:4, Informative)

    by jklovanc (1603149) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @07:06PM (#44648985)

    Quebec has an anti-SLAPP [wikipedia.org] law.

  • by Red_Chaos1 (95148) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @07:55PM (#44649469)

    ...and he needs to counter sue, because they're idiots. End of story.

  • by fuzzytv (2108482) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @07:58PM (#44649509)

    ... and when he refused to take it down, the chain of hotels sued him for $95,000. [quoted from the very first sentence of http://blog.sweetiq.com/2013/08/hotel-sues-guest-for-95k-over-bad-review/%5D [sweetiq.com]

    So the review is still there http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g155033-i134-k6703172-Bed_bugs_lawsuit_by_hotel_as_a_result_of_bad_review-Quebec_City_Quebec.html [tripadvisor.com]

    Anyway, good job Hotel Quebec! Streisand effect at it's best ...

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