Guest takes hotel to court for big snow storm bill



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Posted on December 7, 2010 at 6:41 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 7 at 10:31 PM

SEATAC, Wash. - The snow has melted, but the anger felt by some guests at a SeaTac motel has not. One of them is taking legal action over the rate he was charged for shelter from last month's snow storm.

Seattle University law student Arthur Simpson saw KING 5’s story last month on the rates SeaTac's Ramada Inn charged travelers on the night of the paralyzing snow storm. Simpson learned that he was one of several hotel guests who paid big bills. His charge for that night was $465 for a room that normally rents for $50 to $70 per night.

"My eyes kind of popped out of my head," said Simpson. “That's totally outrageous. That's obviously taking advantage of drivers who feel like they’re in peril if they continue to drive," he said.

Simpson says he arrived at the Ramada at 3 a.m. on November 24 after being stuck in traffic for ten or so hours. He saw the sign advertising $53 rooms and didn’t ask the night clerk the specific rate.

KING 5 reported on the SeaTac Ramada
the day after the storm when traveler Jason Anderson complained about his bill.

“I couldn't believe it,” Anderson said. “It was nearly $300 for one night."

Stan Moberly also contacted KING 5 and said he drove back into the storm and home to Olympia after the same Ramada quoted him a $300 rate.

Ramada's manager defended his price going up as the snow came down.

“It's the holiday season, the busiest travel day of the year,” said Brandon Shelton. “Obviously supply and demand comes into play. It's going to be this way the rest of the holiday season."

Simpson says he plans to file a lawsuit against Ramada during his winter break from classes.

Ramada’s corporate spokesperson has not responded to KING 5’s request for confirmation that hiking prices during storm events is a standard practice.

Simpson says Ramada has offered him a partial refund, which he refused.