Left expensive watch in hotel, any help?
April 13, 2010 5:50 PM   Subscribe

Expensive watch left in a hotel room - never turned in by hotel staff - do I have any recourse?

I stayed overnight in a very pricey high-end hotel in Dallas. I left my watch in the room, specifically under the pillow of my bed. I called later that day when I realized I had left the watch. Hotel security said they would look into it and call me back. They never called me back, I kept calling to check, offered a reward. The watch never turned up.

A sales person where I bought the watch suggested that the hotel could file a claim for the watch against their insurance, or I could possibly file on my homeowners insurance.

Has anyone had an experience like this? Who should I speak with at the hotel? Should I deal with their corporate office? Any help?
posted by Goodgrief to Work & Money (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In virtually all states, there is a hotelier's law that essentially says that you need to leave anything of value with the front desk, and that the hotel is not responsible for any lost or stolen item. Otherwise, guests could claim that all kinds of things were left behind. You're probably out of luck.
posted by yclipse at 5:55 PM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think that's one for the lawyers.... from a traveller's point of view, it's been pretty much look-out-for-myself in my experience - expensive small things have a habit of disappearing, especially if you can't prove you left it there.

Make a fuss with the hotel management is about the best you can do.

I know hotels in Mexico where, if someone claims theft, they fire the entire chamber-cleaning staff without question, to prevent cover-ups and ensure everone stays honest, but I doubt that would work in the US.

As for whether your homeowners insurance would cover it - ask them and/or read the contract.
posted by TravellingDen at 5:58 PM on April 13, 2010

If I were you , I would check with my own homeowners insurance... if they won't pay, see below...

Here's how it looks. (no truth on any-one's part implied here)... You CLAIM you left a watch, the hotel staff CLAIM they didn't find it.... now what.... nobody can prove anything...

You could beat your head against this wall forever, I doubt there will be a satisfying feeling at the end..

let it go, and don't leave your watch under a pillow in the future... leave it someplace where you can't miss it.
posted by HuronBob at 5:59 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hotels have pretty specific "we are not liable for stuff you leave behind" disclaimers posted everywhere, mostly b/c a) it happens all the time, b) they have no way of knowing that you lost what you say you lost where you say you lost it. I'm not doubting at all that it went down like you said it did, but you can surely see why they might not be keen on cooperating.

Mitigating factors: if you regularly stay in their very pricey hotels anywhere in their chain, they might make an exception to keep a well-heeled customer. (I'm making the assumption, not snarking, that someone who can afford to stay at high end hotels is well-heeled, but again this only works if you stay with them regularly and that they know this.

Otherwise, if you have a receipt or other documentation of the value of the watch, your homeowners insurance is your best bet.
posted by beelzbubba at 6:04 PM on April 13, 2010

There's also the very real possibility that you did leave your watch, the staff didn't find it, and pieces and parts of it are now trapped in the drain filter of an industrial washing machine.
posted by 517 at 6:07 PM on April 13, 2010 [8 favorites]

As far as recourse against the hotel you're probably SOL. Anything left in a hotel room isn't the responsibility of management. As has been mentioned above, it'd be impossible to deal with that kind of exposure otherwise.

You could try to make a claim against your homeowners' policy, but I wouldn't recommend it for a number of reasons. First, insurance doesn't cover lost property, only stolen property, and yours is quite clearly lost, not stolen, as it was not in your possession when it went missing, so they'll probably just deny the claim. Second, your deductible could easily be more than the cost of the watch, meaning that you'd attract the attention of Claims with nothing to show for it. Third, even if they pay the claim and the deductible makes it worth it, making claims against homeowners' policies tends to attract adverse underwriting action, especially if you do it more than once or twice.
posted by valkyryn at 6:09 PM on April 13, 2010

nthing the sad fact that you're pretty much out of luck. I've worked in Hotels for many years, and if the staff did indeed find it, they probably would let you know. Our housekeeping staff has found some pretty pricey items, and they always go into locked storage for 3 months or until the guest calls about it. Sometimes, if we can tell it's important, we'll be proactive and notify the guest if we can.

Basically, as several folks have mentioned, it's your word against theirs. I also am inclined to agree with 517, it probably got wrapped up in the sheets when they stripped the bed.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 6:26 PM on April 13, 2010

Unless it's an exceptionally rare and expensive watch, don't file a claim on your home owner's insurance. You'll get flagged as someone who makes frivolous (and possibly unsubstantiated) claims, and your rates will go up.
posted by amyms at 6:45 PM on April 13, 2010

There's also the very real possibility that you did leave your watch, the staff didn't find it, and pieces and parts of it are now trapped in the drain filter of an industrial washing machine.

What 517 said. Cleaning people are going to rip the covers off that bed and stuff them in a bag. They're generally not too interested in seeing what's been left in the sheets.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:42 PM on April 13, 2010

The hotel may have honestly never seen it. You left it under your pillow. It is quite possibly now in the washing machine, or in pieces at the industrial laundry that the hotel works with. Hotel cleaning is as fast as possible, so they don't exactly shake the sheets out to be sure nothing's caught in them. You could ask the hotel to connect you to the laundry center and ask them to look for it.
posted by aimedwander at 6:42 AM on April 14, 2010

Yea I used to clean hotel rooms. I'd bet money that your wash is somewhere in the laundry chain and not on some custodian's dresser. You're SOL. Next time, either leave the watch at home completely or wear it all the time.
posted by WeekendJen at 6:57 AM on April 14, 2010

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