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Hotel Fees Turn Even Trickier

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The bill for your next hotel stay might come with some costly surprises. It might include a daily charge for your in-room safe even if you don’t use it…a fee for using the minibar to refrigerate your own beverages…and/or a daily “resort fee” even if the hotel is in the middle of a city and nowhere near a casino or beach. And these fees can add up fast. Some are a few dollars a day, but a resort fee alone can be $20 or more per day—$140 a week!

Taking a page from the airline industry’s playbook, hotels are imposing a slew of new and/or higher fees to boost revenue. These fees can add 20% or more to your nightly room rate. Although the Federal Trade Commission requires hotels to disclose mandatory fees when you make reservations, disclosures often are buried in small print.

More examples of unexpected fees: Besides the fee for cooling your own beverages, some hotels charge a minibar “restocking fee” of perhaps $2.95 a day. Some charge 5% of the nightly room rate as an automatic “housekeeping gratuity.” Hotels are more likely now to charge you a fee for early arrival or late departure—and might even charge you extra for holding your luggage for a few hours. You might have to pay as much as $30 extra to get a room near the elevators or on a high or low floor. Many hotels that advertise “free Internet” charge $5 or more per day to upgrade that access from very low speeds unsuitable for streaming videos or sending files.

Self-Defense

Check in advance whether the hotel will waive certain charges, such as Wi-Fi fees, if you belong to its loyalty rewards program and if you book directly rather than through a third-party website…or if you make clear that you don’t intend to use certain services, such as the pool or gym. Also, ask in advance for a full list of mandatory and optional fees. Then you can avoid certain services that have fees…and if the final bill includes a
fee that was not on the list, you have more leverage to get it waived. By using the list, you also can avoid leaving extra tips for housekeeping or other services if you’re charged an automatic gratuity.

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Source: Bjorn Hanson, PhD, clinical professor at New York University School of Professional Studies, Jonathan M. Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism, New York City. ­BjornHansonHospitality.com Date: December 15, 2017 Publication: Bottom Line Personal
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