Bodmin Moor's Jamaica Inn under fire for £100 smoking fine
A NORTH Cornwall couple have been left fuming after they were "fined" for allegedly smoking in a bedroom at a landmark pub on Bodmin Moor.
Gill and Stuart Wall discovered £100 had been taken out of their bank account by the Jamaica Inn for contravening house rules, but insist they did not smoke in the room and are warning that unless the money is paid back, further action is likely.
Mrs Wall said she and her husband booked into the inn as part of their wedding anniversary celebrations, but days later found the money had been removed from their account without their permission.
Mrs Wall said: "We phoned the Jamaica Inn's manager to ask what the extra charge was for, and he accused us of leaving two cigarette ends in a bathroom bin and said he had photographic evidence.
"I tried to explain to him that we hadn't smoked in the room at any time, and joked that the hotel must have had one of its ghosts in there, but he said no one else would have had access to the room as he had the master key, and hung up."
The couple, who are both smokers and from Wadebridge, insist they only smoked outside the premises after having a meal and drinks that night.
Steve Carr, the Jamaica Inn's general manager, said they had a policy of charging guests £100 if they smoked in their bedrooms, information that was clearly displayed at reception and in the inn's literature and booking confirmation letters. Five guests had been charged £100 since the policy was introduced 18 months ago.
"Mr and Mrs Wall were smoking in their allocated room; we found evidence of ash and cigarette ends in the bathroom and a strong smoke odour.
"This is not something we do without strong evidence, and I'm afraid on this occasion the evidence was there to see."
Mr Carr insisted there were no cigarette ends in the room prior to the Walls' arrival, as he had checked the room himself, but they are adamant they did not smoke in their room and say the inn had no right to withdraw £100 from their account without first telling them why.
"Stuart and I had not been smoking in the room and the manager has accused us of something we did not do," said Mrs Walls. "We are not prepared to dismiss this accusation and unless the money is returned, we will be pursing the matter further."
Malcolm Bell, head of tourism at VisitCornwall, said hotels were increasingly banning smoking in their establishments, particularly the smaller ones.
"It's to do with market and social forces," he said.
"There are fewer smokers these days, including ex-smokers who can't stand the smell of smoke, so if someone who's not a smoker is offered a room which has an odour of cigarettes, there's every chance he or she will refuse it, and that income will be lost."