Hotel Fees That Must Die and How to Kill Them
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Resort fees. Mandatory tips. Concierge surcharges.
If you've stayed at a hotel in the last few years, you've become accustomed -- if not anesthetized -- to these annoying extras. You expect them. You're indifferent to them when they appear on your bill.
You shouldn't be.
Consider these two facts: 2010 is shaping up to be another "down" year for the hotel industry.
At a time like this, no hotel manager in his right mind would add a new surcharge. If anything, they'd remove them to make us happy. "Upsetting guests is not worth it," says
All of which raises the following questions: Which hotel fees are still out there that shouldn't be? Which ones should be euthanized? And how do you go about finishing them off?
Here are five hotel fees that must die.
These add-ons to your room bill started innocently enough. Resort guests complained that they were being nickel-and-dimed by extras for beach towels, umbrellas and the use of exercise facilities, among other things. So the properties rolled them all into a "resort fee" and made those amenities "free." But along the way, greed horribly twisted these fees. First it became mandatory, so you no longer had a choice about using the amenities, or, more specifically, being charged for them. And then larger, urban hotels that didn't have resort-like amenities, decided to copy it. Before long, resort fees had become an embarrassment to the hotel industry. Guests were being hit with the fees everywhere, causing their room charges to mushroom by
How to kill them: No hotel should charge a mandatory resort fee. Ever. If you book a room at a hotel that has one, and it's clearly disclosed, you have few options. Trying to negotiate your way out of one when you check in is your best bet. However, few resort fees are adequately disclosed. If the hotel refuses to strike the surcharge from your bill, talk to your credit card company. I've dealt with several cases in which the fee was refunded directly by a credit card company.
FEES FOR FURNITURE
The most common flavor of this fee is a surcharge for your safe. (Ironically, the hotel often doesn't vouch for the safety of the items you store in one.) But that's not the only item hotels ask you to pay extra for.
How to kill them: Always ask if there's an additional fee when you make a special request, like a room with a refrigerator or any other amenity, such as a coffeemaker. (Don't laugh -- I've come across hotel guests who were charged extra for their coffeemakers.) If the answer is yes, you can always decline. If you find yourself staring down one of these surcharges at check-out, you should protest -- first to the front-desk employee, then to a manager, and finally to your credit-card company.
CONCIERGE, BELLHOP AND HOUSECLEANING FEES
Believe it or not, some hotels tack on a fee for their bellhops and concierges -- two optional services that guests usually pay for with tips. At one hotel, motivational speaker
How to kill them: Common sense is your most effective weapon against these unreasonable fees. Not only are they often improperly disclosed, but they also fly in the face of reason. The cost of your room should include housekeeping. Use of a concierge or bellhop should be optional, not mandatory. Explain to a manager that if they ever want your business again, the fees must be removed. Immediately.
Never underestimate a hotel revenue manager's creativity. Seriously, these employees sit around all day wondering how to make more money from us.
How to kill them: Logic. Some of these fees are so laughable that you just have to ask about them in order to have them removed.
FEES THAT OUGHT TO BE ILLEGAL
How to kill them: Like many other nuisance fees, these kinds of surcharges are poorly disclosed. (And for good reason. They work better when they're sprung on guests.) Given the surprise nature of these bizarre charges, negotiating them off your bill shouldn't be too difficult.
Point is, at a time like this, you shouldn't have to put up with any of these fees. A property charging mandatory resort fees, valet fees, safe fees or energy fees doesn't just hate its customers -- it probably also has a death wish.
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(c) 2010 Christopher Elliott, National Geographic Traveler magazine
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