Sunday, July 4, 2010

Unexpected Hotel Charges--Legitimate or Unscrupulous?

Anyone who has flown in the last year or so is familiar with how drastically things have changed. What used to be considered free, included as part of the air fare, is now an additional fee.

We used to be able to check our luggage, have carry on bags, little packets of peanuts or pretzels handed out to anyone who wanted them, soft drinks and fruit juice upon request, snacks at meal time, pillow and blanket, and certainly a drink of water. Obviously we can now refer to that as "the good old days" when compared to today's travel hassles. All those things are now additional fees the airlines charge and they have made tremendous profits from them. Fees that are charged in addition to all the other taxes and surcharges added on to the airfare.

So, is it any wonder that hotels have started to follow suit with new "fees" of their own? Following are ten fees many hotels are now adding on to your bill at check-out time. If you belong to the hotel's frequent guest program, you might be safe from some of these…at least for the time being.

10) Internet Usage: A big perk hotels and motels have advertised in the past to attract customers was free high speed internet. Many hotels are now adding an internet usage fee at check-out time. While some are charging the fee per day, a new trend is to charge per devise per day. So, more than one device being used in your room? You might see a charge for each device that uses the in room internet access. Currently in Europe, this fee can easily be an additional $30/day on top of the room rate and applicable taxes.

9) Resort Fees: Things that were once taken for granted as being included in the room rate (such as pool towels) at beach and mountain resorts are increasingly being listed under the amenities covered by Resort Fees which are automatically tacked on to your bill at checkout. And it seems that saying you don't plan to use the extra resort amenities won't matter. They're available, so you are charged.

8) Portage Fees: This is a good one!! You tip the bellman for handling your luggage to and from your room. Yet when you get your bill there's a Portage Fee for the bellman's services. Even if you take your own luggage to your room, that Portage Fee is still on your bill. The addition of a Portage Fee is especially likely to show up on your bill if you're part of a group that's been given a special negotiated rate, such as a conference group or a tour.  That pretty much cancels out your special reduced group room rate.

7) Valet Parking: The good old days of self-parking for a few dollars a day are long gone in most major cities at luxury hotels. It's now valet parking only at an additional charge on your bill of anywhere from $20 to $50/day and of course there's the tip to the valet every time he brings you your car, not to mention how long you have to wait.

6) Energy Surcharges: Be sure to read the fine print on your confirmation, especially if you book through a consolidator or discounter. You're likely to find more than one "extra" that will be added to your bill. A particularly irritating surcharge is the energy one. It's logical to believe the cost of the electricity used when turning on the air conditioning or the television would be included in the base room rate. Then when you see an additional fee for the fact that you have actually used the electricity in your room…well, do I need to elaborate?

5) Luggage Storage Fee: Having a place to store your bags after check-out time when you still have several hours before you need to go to the airport used to be a nice option provided by the hotel for its guests. Not any more. Be prepared to be charged per bag for sticking them in a closet until you're ready to leave.

4) In-Room Safe Fees: Another item charged to you on a per day basis simply because it's there. Whether you actually use it or not doesn't seem to matter.

3) Fitness Center Fees: What used to be no charge at many hotels is now a use fee. It's not necessarily a charge simply because it's available. So far, it's a daily use charge. So far.

2) Mini-Bar Restocking Fee: We all know how horribly over priced all the items are in the mini-bar. You'd think that would surely be enough profit for the hotel when a guest opens the mini-bar just to see what's in it and ends up taking one little thing. But apparently that's not the case. Now, in additional to all the profits derived from the items in the mini-bar, there's also a charge for replacing that little bag of peanuts.

1) Early Check-In Fees: It used to be that if the hotel had an available room that had been cleaned after an early check-out or had been vacant the previous night, they would let you have a room earlier than the normal mid to late afternoon check-in time as a courtesy. This was especially nice if you arrived early that morning after an overnight flight. Well, there's another perk that's mostly gone by the wayside. Some unscrupulous establishments won't even apprise you of the additional charge. It simply shows up on your bill.

I really love to travel, but I have to admit that it's becoming more and more difficult to enjoy. Have any of you had any strange charges from hotels?  Some sort of "fee" that showed up on your bill as a complete surprise?


Tracie said...

Recently on a trip to Las Vegas for my daughter's college orientation I scored big on, $28/night. We stayed a block off the strip at a chain hotel that had a small "casino" in the lobby. It was fine for our needs but I was a little surprised at the casino amenity charge of $5 a day. Got me!

Samantha Gentry said...

Tracie: A casino amenity charge of $5/day. That's like insult to injury. They're charging a fee for the opportunity to lose your money. :)