Unscrupulous Hotel Fees

by Terry Ward 
Posted Jun 14th 2010 03:52 PMUpdated Sep 1st 2010 05:08 PM




If you've gotten on an airplane any time in the last year or so, you are well aware that things that were once free (checked bags and blankets, for example) now come at a price. As annoying as we find them, the fees have earned enormous profits for the airlines, so it's no surprise that hotels are following suit and are increasingly using add-on fees to bump up their bottom lines. Those few bucks here and there for a late checkout or valet parking will earn the hotel industry a whopping $1.7 billion in 2010 according to a new study by Bjorn Hanson, a clinical professor at New York University. Even more astonishing is what you might find yourself getting charged for. Did you help yourself to an overpriced snack from the mini bar in your room? Be prepared for a re-stocking fee. Tipped the bellboy for carrying your bag? When you see the porterage fee added to your bill at check out, you'll wonder why you bothered. Read on for a list of the most unscrupulous hotel fees.

10. Internet Usage

Today's travelers usually come with computer in tow (even if they aren't on the road for business) and hotels know it. Which means guests are routinely charged in-room Internet access fees that border on extortion. In Europe, rates can soar upwards of $30 per day, and even in the US you're looking at somewhere between $10 and $25 per day to surf the web and check email. Another irk? Hotels that charge that daily rate per device instead of per room, doubling the fee if you both bring a laptop.

9. Resort Fees
Things that hotel guests once took for granted as being included in room rates (think pool towels) are increasingly being listed among the amenities covered in those much maligned "resort fees." You're most likely to see the compulsory charge listed separately on your bill at beach and mountain resorts. So why aren't they just wrapped into the overall room rate? It's just one more way for hotels to charge an extra $15 to $30 per day-or more. The kicker? Even when the mandatory resort fee includes gym and Internet access, saying you don't plan to use either won't usually help you get out of paying.

8. Porterage Fee
When you turn your luggage over to the bellhop, it's expected that you will slip a tip into his hand as well. Now, imagine checking out and seeing that you have been charged a porterage fee. And some hotels are tacking on the fee even if you have politely refused the bellman's services and carried your own bags. Porterage fees are especially likely to show up on your bill if you're part of group booking that's been given a specially negotiated rate.

7. Valet Parking
What ever happened to the good old days of self-parking for a few dollars a day? In major cities from Miami to San Francisco valet-only parking at luxury hotels is becoming more and more the standard, costing guests anywhere from $20 to $50 per night. Valets try to soften the blow by saying it's "in and out as much as you want." But factor in having to tip every time your car is brought to you, and you're looking at a serious add-on expense to your hotel stay.

6. Energy Surcharges
Be sure to read the fine print when booking hotels through consolidators and discounters, as you're likely to spot slippery surcharges not included in the total price. Among the most irritating of all is the "energy surcharge" being employed at hotels everywhere from Arizona to the Caribbean. The fee can be a couple dollars per room, a per-day/per-person fee, or as much as ten percent of your overall bill and covers things that you would think would be covered by to room rate like running the air conditioning and turning on the lights. These fees were originally created as a way to transfer rising energy costs to hotel guests, but even as costs level out many hotels are slow to remove the extra revenue-generating bonus from your bill.

5. Luggage Storage Fee
The standard check-out at most hotels is 11 a.m., which is great if you are hitting the road early. But if you want to squeeze in a little extra sightseeing time (or maybe an extra dip in the pool), storing your bags with the hotel was a great-and free-option. Until now. Expect to fork over a couple bucks a bag just to toss them in the storage closet, a dismal idea for sure.

4. In-Room Safe Fees
Hotels make it sound more official by calling it a "safe warranty fee," or some such derivation. But all it means is an additional one to three dollars charged to your bill for the honor of having a safe in your room -- whether you lock up your valuables or not. Look for safe charges in the fine print on hotels' websites and, of course, your bill. Often times, guests are told at check-in that if the safe goes unused, the fee will be removed. But if you forget to follow up at check out, you're often out of luck. Budget and mid-range hotel chains are where you're most likely to be hit with these charges.

3. Fitness Center Fees
If your hotel gym has high-end amenities such as sauna facilities or fancy cardio equipment, you're likely to find yourself getting charged for the privilege of your daily work out. Even hotels that didn't formerly charge guests for gym access are finding it's a catchall way to increase earnings. And we're not just talking about a few bucks. Some Las Vegas hotels charge up to $40 per day to use their gyms -- a hefty price to pay for simply wanting to work off one of Sin City's bargain buffet dinners.

2. Mini-Bar Restocking Fee
Mini-bar snacks have always been a wallet-drain. But the extreme mark-up on snacks turns out not to be enough. Now some hotels are equipping the little fridges with sensors that detect if the door has been opened, automatically adding a re-stocking fee to your bill. And that's even if all you did was root around to make space for your own smuggled-in beverage. If you do indulge in one of those tiny $12 cans of nuts, there's a chance your hotel will charge you up to $6 to help cover the intense manual labor involved with sliding a new one into place.

1. Early Check-In Fees
Being able to get into your room earlier than the 3 or 4 p.m. standard check-in time comes in handy if your flight gets in early in the morning (especially if you flew overnight). And like everything that used to be a free perk, you can't count on getting into that room without coughing up some extra cash. Fees add up to anywhere from $20 to $50. The most unscrupulous establishments won't even bother to tell you about the fee until you question it on the bill, by which time the damage is done.
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After reading posting after posting where all anyone does is bitch I suddenly realized what was missing from my life.
Why is this?....it is that I never pay extra fees at any hotel I stay at and I do it at least 30 days a year.
How I do it is really simple.
I never never never stay at a hotel here in the USA. Always I stay at a high end Asian or European hotel where there are no extra charges.....and never one belonging to an American company either!
The best way to get back at hotels here in the USA is to never use them if possible. Money is the only language they understand and when they do not get any only then they will behave.
On another note.....hotels here in the USA suck compared to everywhere else.

August 01 2010 at 8:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Candy Adams

The craziest charge I ever got was a 4-star hotel in Seattle whose paid, wired Internet service was down more than up... and if you wanted to report it and/or get support to try to make it work, it was a LONG DISTANCE CALL!

My group ran up hundreds in long-distance charges, just contacting Internet support, trying to get the service they were already paying the hotel for.

After a visit to the hotel GM's office on the last day of our group event, these were taken off our bill, but talk about a RACKET! (He swore that he didn't know it was happening and no one had ever complained before.)

Candy Adams, CTSM, CME, CEM, CMP, CMM
"The Booth Mom"

July 20 2010 at 6:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A good way to ensure a great hotel gym is to check out http://www.HotelGymReview.com before you leave for your next trip. Also be sure to write reviews about the facility. We're a new website so we really need people to write reviews.


July 06 2010 at 11:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Stay away from the Jap owned Nikko Hotel in Mexico City. They have liuterally dozens and dozens of hidden fees on top of the ones allready listed above in this article. The $225.00 (if that were not enough) can double if you are not careful and THEY WILL NOT TELL YOU! They charge for everything and I mean everything. for instance if you leave for appointments early in the A.M. and return by 2 or 3 PM and you find your room not made up and call for room service they charge you! They boast free parking if you are a guest but if you do not ask, they charge you! They boost free valet, but its not free! Everyone gets a tip if you want to or not! The list goes on. The Presidente Intercontinental next door is not that much better either! Do not eat at the Italian Restuarant on the mezzanine Alfredo Di Roma is famouse for padding your bill with expensive drinks and deserts you never ordered, especially if there is a group of 4 or more...............thieves all of them.

July 01 2010 at 10:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I want to comment on some of the things said about fees in a hotel. First of all, the hotels have to pay for all the stuff you guests use. Outside companys charge the hotel for the internet, cable, water, etc in every room and the guests think everything should be for free. Then you have the nerve to ask for a free upgrade as if you are suppose to get it without charge. Why do you not go to a store and ask if you can have the items for free and see where it gets you. I can tell that most of you that complain have never run a business in your life. There is overhead to pay for and if you don't have enough money or your credit card is going to decline when you arrive, then try to be a grown up and stay home when you don't have money.

July 01 2010 at 4:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

YES! YES! YES! I hope enough people read your post. Just do your research before you leave home, and you won't be "surprised" by "secret" fees. They aren't secret. You're just going la-la through life and expecting people to help you. They will help you---THEY GET PAID FOR THAT.

July 01 2010 at 2:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I guess it depends what you consider "high end." Most of the fees listed (bag storage, parking, porterage) are paying for actual services rendered, and the people who aren't using them don't want them added in to the overall room price just so the author can feel like he's getting something for free. And what about the people who don't tip? Porters are paid low wages in anticipation of being tipped for their efforts.

I think that this article is confusing economy hotels with "high end", service-oriented hotels, which cater to very different clientele. Bottom line, like always, is do your research and know where you're going. Don't just blow into a big city and expect Green Acres, ya know?

July 01 2010 at 2:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I used to work across the street from a hotel. Sometimes we would order food from the hotel restaurant (open to the public as well as guests) and then walk over to pick it up. We noticed then that they had started charging us a room service fee on our carry out orders. After quite a fight we finally had to start asking for a sspecific restaurant manager when we would order and then sometimes had to still remind him not to put the charge on.

July 01 2010 at 12:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
WHo cares

Do you idiots who are complaining really KNOW anything about the things yoru complaining about??? Obiously not.

Let's take it from the top:

10 Internet Fees - The infastructure (wires, hubs and all the crap to get you connected to the internet) costs money, big money, costs moey to support, maintain and to upgrade to keep current. Do hotels make a profit on this, yep, sure do, but, hey IT"S A Business and guess what, businesses are created to MAKE MONEY. Stay at hotels that don't charge if it bothers you that much, or use yoru wireless plan to connect to the internet, you have op[tions people.

9 Resort fees - I agree, totally bogus, profit for hotels.

8. Poterage Charges - Toally support the charges to provide tips to the bellman who have to carry your heavy ass bags, cause you brought too much crap on your trip and you are too cheap to tip them.

7. Valet parking - Since the author mentioned San Francisco, I will comment on that city. Hmm, real estate prices are in the top 5 in the country, so, hmmm, a business should give it away for free or not make money on it?? Leave your car at home and take taxi's, Oh, yea theya er expensive too, maybe THAT will be the next article. Take public transportation and stop your bitching.

6. Energy Surcharge - I agree total ripoff. Most all big chains removed this charge years ago, you might have a few Mom and Pop places that still charge it and if they do, go elsewhere and let them know why. After a few customers don't return, they will rething that surcharge

5. Luggage Storage - Again, Most big hotel chains will not charge you for daily or even weekly storage if you were a guest. Some of the Mom and Pop places might though. Stop crying though over a buck or two, geez, how cheap can you be.

4. In Room Safes - Big Hotel companies do not charge, your smaller, less regulated hotels do, avoid them, these are the same guys charging you for the energy and luggage storeage, and soon will have pay toilets in their room most likely.

3. Fitness Centers - In Vegas, Hell yes, otheriwse you would have 4,000 fat asses going to the gym to walk on the tredmills when they have no business being in there. The hotels cannot accomidate that many guests and let's face it, 95% of the people that go to Vegas look for all the freee stuff from the hotels. If you are going to Vegas to work out, tehn win some extra money at the tables and pay the fee!!

2. Mini Bar Restocking Fee - WHoa... Total profit maker, I agree, Bogus charge, would compalin at the FD each time I checked out, most places will adjust it off.

1. Early Check in Fee - Hmm, Before noon, pay the fee, after 12 noon, Most places should accomidate you, except in Resorts.

July 01 2010 at 12:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm on the executive committee of some national organizations. When we book a hotel for our annual meetings, we always make sure the contract includes free internet, and free parking, among other things. Hotels, even the big chains are hungry for business. make those things part of your requirements if they are to get your business.

June 30 2010 at 11:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply