Hi Paul , we have had people take keys by mistake , if they dont return them we charge them $20.00 for the replacement ( ours are just normal keys) In regards to cash paying customers , we make them pay a deposit of $100.00 on top of the room price as not only taking keys, but they can do damage or smoke etc and you wont get any compensation . If the guest wants to checkout before reception opens, well thats to bad ,they just have to wait.Since we started doing this we havent had any room damage or keys go missing because we inspect the room before they leave. I would rather not have the guest stay if they arent prepared to pay a deposit.
Lots of time i ask them if they have a credit card and they say no , but i can see a visa etc in there wallet. Its amazing how quickly they tend to find a credit card if it`s late and not much choice. Yes sometimes a customer will decide to not stay , but I would rather sleep at night than be worried about them doing damage etc. then doing a runner.