locked out
June 27, 2006 7:29 AM   Subscribe

We locked ourselves out of an apartment hotel room and the owner had to get a locksmith to open the door. Who should pay?

The key was left in the door inside the room which made it impossible to open from outside so they had to get a locksmith in. The owner wants to charge us 87 euro for this but to my way of thinking it's not our responsibility, they should have a system in place which makes it impossible to lock yourself out, i.e hotel locks.

We were also trapped in the lobby for an hour waiting for someone to come and open the front door - of course we didn't have the key to get out of the building.

The girl who showed us the room didn't explain the system either. So what do you think?
posted by dydecker to Travel & Transportation (36 answers total)
apartment hotel room

is it an apartment or a hotel room?
posted by poppo at 7:34 AM on June 27, 2006

or better yet, how long are you staying there? did you sign some kind of agreement? can you ask to see a statement that says you are responsible for that?
posted by poppo at 7:34 AM on June 27, 2006

Response by poster: It's an apartment which is rented out very short term in a hotel room fashion. We're staying for five days. We signed an agreement on the net but there was nothing about locks and keys in it, just damages.
posted by dydecker at 7:37 AM on June 27, 2006

And you needed a key to get OUT of the building?! What if there was a fire or some other emergency? It sounds like the owner or management is seriously screwed up.

My personal opinion is that the management/owner is ridiculously stupid for not having backup keys to each apartment if they are constantly being rented out. But because I don't know where this happened, and my opinion doesn't make things right, that might not count for much.

Is it possible that they are just trying to rip you off, though? The whole thing sounds creepy and fishy. Why would you ever want to stay somewhere that locks you in?
posted by tastybrains at 7:44 AM on June 27, 2006

Just my opinion, but if you left the key in the door you should pay. Every hotel I've ever stayed in makes it very easy to lock yourself out, but maybe things are different on the other side of the pond?

Still, it seems like a high fee to open the door, though -- maybe you can negotiate a discount?
posted by Opposite George at 7:47 AM on June 27, 2006

Response by poster: Sorry, forgot to mention -- this is in Spain. They are not trying to rip us off I don't think. The needing a key to get out of the building is pretty terrible for emergencies - good point.
posted by dydecker at 7:49 AM on June 27, 2006

And yeah, that whole needing-a-key-to-get-out thing seems really, really wrong and dangerous, but I'm not sure what that has to do with the original problem. Did you need the key to get out of your room, too? If that's the case then their system sucks and I'm more sympathetic.
posted by Opposite George at 7:50 AM on June 27, 2006

I think you should pay and get on with your vacation.
posted by LarryC at 7:50 AM on June 27, 2006

Personally I'd think you should pay it, if there really was no way to get the door open without a locksmith. If you're renting an apartment, it's not reasonable to expect every hotel amenity like foolproof door locks... and you did lock yourselves out, strictly speaking it's not their fault.

I'm not sure how being trapped in the lobby is relevant. Annoying and potentially unsafe, but not relevant.
posted by ook at 7:53 AM on June 27, 2006

Response by poster: Opposite George - yes, you need a key to get out of the room, too. Maximum security.
posted by dydecker at 7:58 AM on June 27, 2006

I would pay it, since ultimately it was your own fault that a locksmith had to be paid. I've locked myself out of my car before, but I never thought to send the car's manufacturer a bill for the locksmith for not providing me an alternative means to evade locking myself out of the car.
posted by Atreides at 8:02 AM on June 27, 2006

I still think you're on the hook for the tab but you're right, it's a really crappy system for preventing lockouts.
posted by Opposite George at 8:02 AM on June 27, 2006

you need to cowboy-up and pay the man. It is not their responsibility to hold your hand and make sure you don't lock yourself out.

you do of course realize this is why there are warning labels on beach balls and the rest of us get treated like children.

If the bill was 2000 euro instead of 87, you'd get a lawyer and sue, then win and from then on, apartment hotel keys would have little warnings that say "CAUTION: Key does not function while on opposite side of door" Then Id go to spain and see the warning and slap my forehead wondering what boner locked himself out, then raised such a fit that they needed the warning.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 8:07 AM on June 27, 2006

I still think if you're renting out rooms for short term, you're crazy & creepy not to have backup keys to each room. Even in my apartment complex, the management has a key to every room. Adding to that the fact that you need a key to leave the room and building, something is not right with that place.

So, I have more sympathy for dydecker than I do for the management of his hotel room. But you probably have to just pay it and move on.

And then write nasty reviews about them on travel sites.
posted by tastybrains at 8:09 AM on June 27, 2006

You are responsible. You should have known what the limitations of the room were already, the owner is not responsible for anticipating your dumbness. The owner is not obligated to add, "And by the way, if you're a doofus and leave the key in the door, you pay for a locksmith." It was your error, the owner didn't leave the key in the door, you did.
posted by vanoakenfold at 8:19 AM on June 27, 2006

I wouldn't pay. The dumb design is their problem, not yours.
posted by unSane at 8:24 AM on June 27, 2006

the owner is not responsible for anticipating your dumbness

Of course he is. People do dumb things all the time, and in particular people lock themselves out all the time; an owner is responsible for anticipating that in the same way a software developer is responsible for anticipating what will happen when (not "if") people hit the wrong key. I don't understand this mentality of "everybody should be perfect all the time, and if you're not, you should suffer!"
posted by languagehat at 8:25 AM on June 27, 2006

tastybrains, I think the issue isn't that the manager didn't have back-up keys. The issue is that dydecker left a key in the lock, thereby making it impossible to open by normal means. That is why a locksmith was required.

So, Dydecker, since you are the one that left a key in the lock and that is the reason that a locksmith was needed I think you should just pay it. 87 euros isn't enough to get into a fight over and chance ruining a nice vacation.
posted by oddman at 8:31 AM on June 27, 2006

Under that philosophy, every thing should be round cornered, come with a booklet of operating instructions complete with "Do's" and "Do not's", and with the suggestion to remain in the box to prevent any damage or injury by use of the product.

Its not an engineer's job to predict everything that a person can do by logic or illogic, thats why software companies use beta testers.

To use yet another example from my own life, I blew up a computer when I moved to England because I forgot to flick a switch on the back to safely allow for the change in current. Did I gripe and swear at the computer manufacturer for not putting a failsafe on the computer to keep me from blowing it up? No. I called myself stupid and had it repaired at my expense.
posted by Atreides at 8:34 AM on June 27, 2006

Response by poster: This apartment design really does suck. My girlfriend has now gone out to buy some beers, taking with her the keys of course. If she should happen to fall under a bus and not come back, I would be locked up in here forever!
posted by dydecker at 8:37 AM on June 27, 2006

Heh. You do have my sympathy, Dydecker. At worse, you can grow your hair long and cast it out the window for help.

I'm not sure how legal it'd be, but what if you slipped into some place that copied keys and made duplicates for your current situation?
posted by Atreides at 8:50 AM on June 27, 2006

FYI, these are called double-keyed deadbolts and in the US, they are illegal on egress doors. When I have seen them (very rarely) they are usually on a side door. Totally pointless, as most people end up leaving the key stuck in the lock because it's such royal pain the ass to carry your keys around with you in order to exit your house for any reason.
posted by peep at 8:53 AM on June 27, 2006

Hotel management is insane here. They should have spare keys.

No locksmith should've been required.
posted by I Love Tacos at 8:56 AM on June 27, 2006

In any other situation, the mgmt can solve getting locked out without a locksmith. It's their fault.

Unfortunately they're going to charge you for it on your way out anyway I suppose (I'm sure they have your CC number).

I would protest it (on paper, give them a short letter addressed to mgmt when you check out), but pay it and enjoy the rest of your visit.

Continue the protest from home with their mgmt, and if necessary take it up with your CC company, asking them to get you back charge).
posted by poppo at 8:56 AM on June 27, 2006

I think the reason a locksmith was required was because the key was *in* the lock, and not just locked inside the room.

It sounds to me like they *do* have spare keys, but the locks are such that they won't function in this case.

Am I correct? It seems like this is an important point to be clear about.
posted by utsutsu at 9:01 AM on June 27, 2006

Response by poster: Utsutsu, yes, that is correct. And the key was left in the lock because every time we have to open the door we have to use the keys. I guess we're not used to it and that's probaby why my girlfriend mistakenly left them in the door leaving. Interesting to hear that these kind of doors are illegal in the US.
posted by dydecker at 9:14 AM on June 27, 2006

Response by poster: hmm, I wonder if they are illegal on egress exits in Spain?
posted by dydecker at 9:31 AM on June 27, 2006

This apartment design really does suck. My girlfriend has now gone out to buy some beers, taking with her the keys of course. If she should happen to fall under a bus and not come back, I would be locked up in here forever!

Message us with the computer and we'll come bust you out! (Well, not really, but I would if I could.) Nothing beats a good prison break.

What's weird here is every double-keyed door lock I've seen used a deadbolt. It sounds like this setup uses a springbolt. The deadbolt design makes it impossible for dydecker's situation to happen (the door can't lock itself.) The springbolt almost forces it on you.
posted by Opposite George at 9:33 AM on June 27, 2006

In that case I'd have to say you're probably in the wrong here. Presumably the owner would have let you in, had you not left the key in the door. It is irresponsible on your part, and presumably (my, I like that word today) they've had many many people come before you with little-to-no problem. You're wrong to think there should be no way to lock yourself out and the owner may have even had a backup plan in the case that you simply didn't have your key. I have to pay the locksmith when I lock my keys in my car, since forgetting to get the key is the actual problem here (like when you lock yourself out of a car), not the fact that the owner wasn't able to let you in (because of the fact that you left the key in the lock). You need to own up to this, pay it, and let it go.
posted by ml98tu at 9:35 AM on June 27, 2006

I think most people expect hotel management to have extra keys. Guests lock themselves out all the time - this isn't unusual. However, 87 euros probably isn't enough to ruin your vacation over.
posted by gt2 at 9:45 AM on June 27, 2006

I wondered whether the woman not showing you how to work the lock meant that it was so common in Spain as to not need explanation. In fact, Googling "travel Spain door lock" turned up this as one of the first results, on a general "Travel Tips for Spain" site:

# The less expensive hostales and pensiones lack locks that automatically unlock from the inside. If you use your key to lock the door from the inside, you need to have it available in an emergency. You must be able to find the key, if waken in the night, with no lights available. Some of those old locks can take fiddling to make them work, so you might want to practice unlocking them.

It's a normal type of door for the area. You didn't know how to use it, but they couldn't have anticipated that -- would you be able to anticipate the numerous ways a foreigner could misuse any of the appliances or gadgets in your own home? This is not their fault, any more than your getting confused by people giving you directions in Spanish is their fault. It's SOP for the area. Pay up.
posted by occhiblu at 10:29 AM on June 27, 2006

Don't pay them a cent. I would think that part of renting out an apartment as a hotel is taking on the cost for such things. Everyone acting like this is some horrifically stupid act of dydecker's wife's part is really overblowing what happened. It seems an entirely foreseeable occurrence, especially when renting to a foreigner who has little experience with such locks.
posted by Falconetti at 2:11 PM on June 27, 2006

oh, sorry, i didn't read this correctly - I guess it wasn't about having an extra set of keys. I guess if it is a normal type of door for the area, it would be up to the guest to use it correctly. That system still sucks though.
posted by gt2 at 5:06 PM on June 27, 2006

If, by chance, this should happen to you again, the way we solved it was to unfold a piece of newspaper, push it under the door, and poke the key free with a bamboo skewer.

It fell on the newspaper, and the paper, key and all, was pulled out where it could be reached.
posted by Sallyfur at 1:07 AM on June 28, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you all very much for your thoughtful suggestions. We'll see what happens and I'll post to this thread the outcome!
posted by dydecker at 6:57 AM on June 28, 2006

languagehat: If you're a dope, that's your problem. If I offer to help, that's my business. I am by no means obligated to help you. "Not being able to adapt == not surviving" is pretty much the m.o. of the universe. How are the doofuses of the world special? It was his mistake, he should pay for it.

Do you also think spoon manufacturers must account for the possibility that someone may kill someone else with their product? Are they liable for that murder? The manager can't possibly be held responsible for tenants not knowing how to use a doorknob correctly.
posted by vanoakenfold at 12:33 PM on July 1, 2006

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