To fee or not to fee
HIDDEN HOTEL and resort fees are a source of
extreme frustration for many travelers. Lack of full
disclosure of these extra charges can turn what
seems like a good deal into a costly experience that
leaves you feeling cheated.
The way some hotels and resorts disclose fees is
commonly referred to as “drip pricing.” This means
that only part of a product’s or service’s cost is
revealed upfront—additional mandatory charges
are revealed later on, as you go through the buying
process. This practice is common on travel websites
that claim big savings on daily room rates yet don’t
advertise the real all-encompassing rate. No regula-tory agency oversees the hotel industry, so it’s up to
you to stay ahead of the game.
Here are some tips to take into account when
you’re booking your next hotel or resort stay.
facilities during your stay, ask that those fees be
waived. You shouldn’t have to pay for something
you won’t use.
Be creative. There are plenty of ways to avoid additional hotel and resort fees when you’re traveling.
Here are some ideas: Purchase a mobile hot spot or
visit Internet cafés nearby if you don’t want to pay
the hotel’s Wi-Fi fee. Bring a workout DVD, jump
rope in your room or run outside if you don’t want
to pay for the gym. Pack your own beach towels to
avoid towel fees. Read the newspaper online if you
don’t want the added expense of having it delivered
to your door. There are many ways to save money.
All it takes is a little extra planning. That said, if you
choose to pay extra for hotel services and amenities
because of their convenience, that’s a different story.
WE PURCHASED windows
for our home*, but now we
want to cancel our order.
My husband noticed that
the contractor did not
explain the “Notice to
Three-Day Right to Cancel.”
At the bottom of the
contract is a line for our
initials, but it’s blank since
the contractor didn’t
disclose it. Any thoughts?
Canoga Park, California
Know what you’re dealing with. Inform yourself
about potential charges you may face when staying
at hotels or resorts. Here is a partial list: fees for self-parking or mandatory valet, early departure, phone
calls (local, international and even toll-free calls),
Wi-Fi use, housekeeping and maid service, bellhop
assistance, energy surcharges, in-room safe, newspaper delivery, room-service delivery, rollaway beds
and towels. In addition to these fees, cancellation
policies can be strict and charges to cancel your reservation can cost you a pretty penny.
Check before you tip. Before you tip
anyone at a hotel, ask if the gratuity is
already included. For example, many
hotels include a housekeeping
gratuity fee on the bill so that
expense is already covered.
Make sure you’re not double-paying for something you’ve
already paid for.
Ask about fees before you book. Since hotel and
resort fees are often listed at the bottom of a hotel’s
or resort’s policies page or in the fine print, ask the
hotel manager about what fees are charged before
you book a room. When you’re booking through a
travel website, it’s essential to call the hotel or resort
before you finalize your reservation. When you call,
make sure you introduce yourself by first and last
name and keep a record of the manager you speak
with. That way you can begin a relationship with
the manager, so if you have an issue in the future
those lines of communication will be open.
Remember, it’s not the manager’s personal policies
that are being enforced. The policies are a result of
Look over your bill. When
you check out, go over
your bill thoroughly and
make sure the charges are
accurate. If you disagree
with anything, speak up. If
your request is justifiable,
most hotels will accommodate your request. Check
your credit card statement
as well to make sure it is
accurate after your stay. It’s
customary for hotels to take a
deposit on incidentals prior
to your stay, so make sure
that deposit does not show
up on your bill. C
The right to cancel for a
full refund, also known as
the “cooling-off rule,” is
an issue every consumer
should know about. Consult
the Federal Trade Commis-
where you will ;nd
rights for goods
which will have
Always seek legal
counsel from a
if you have any
questions about a
contractual issue. C
*Windows were not
purchased at Costco.
Request a waiver when you arrive. Ask to see a
comprehensive list of fees in writing when you
arrive. Ask the manager to waive any mandatory
fees you won’t use. For example, if the hotel charges
a gym or spa fee and you know you won’t use these
© 2012 FIGH T BACK! INC. ALL RIGH TS RESERVED.
AMY CAN TRELL
David Horowitz is a leading consumer advocate. Visit his blog at
back.com or email him at
firstname.lastname@example.org. He is a frequent guest on radio
and television stations. Consult your local listings for dates and times.
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