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Watch Out for These Hotel Fees

Hate the nickel-and-diming of travel fees? Senior Editor Sarah Pascarella’s Six Sneaky Fees You Can (and Should) Avoid inspired dozens of comments from readers about more fees to watch out for. Many of the most surprising (and infuriating) fees came not from airlines but from hotels. Here are some of the worst offenders:

  • Hotel Resort Fees: One of the sneakiest and often most expensive fees that turns up unwanted on hotel bills, the blanket term “hotel resort fee” can cover pretty much whatever the hotel wants, from pool towels to turn-down service. Reader evebrooks says, “I was charged a $3 per day ‘resort fee’ at the Eldorado Hotel Casino in Reno, NV, for use of water.” And commenter Barry warns that, “Even if you win a bid on Priceline or other opaque sites, you are responsible for resort and parking fees.”
  • Daily Service Charges: Meant to cover gratuities for hotel staff, hotels can slip this charge onto a bill even if you’ve tipped maids and bellhops independently. Reader David learned this first-hand at the Luxor in Las Vegas: “When we checked out there was a daily service charge of $5 per day on the bill. I thought this was their cost of doing business.”
  • Safe Fees: Hotels seem to be slipping this one in more and more often, sometimes regardless of whether or not you actually use the in-room safe. Three readers commented on this stinker, warning other travelers to check their bills very carefully for safe fees, which can run as high as $5 per day.
  • Local/Toll-Free Calls Fees: Unless you’re warned in advance, you might not expect to pay fees for making local or toll-free calls from your hotel room. But readers agblsd and Yaakov know from personal experience that it’s a charge to watch out for. Yaakov remembers, “The last time I was at a hotel, they tried charging me 50 cents for each local call! I forced them to quash that because there had been no notice thereof in advance, but be careful.”
  • Newspaper Fees: At some hotels, you open your door in the morning to find a newspaper on your stoop. But beware, you may pay for this minor convenience. Reader tall travel gal cautions: “Hotels give you a newspaper outside your door, but then charge you for it, regardless if you wanted it or read it!” And Kay2 says, “Some hotels hide a note on their key holders or in the hotel information in the room that they will deliver a newspaper to your door every day and charge you for it unless you tell them not to.”
  • Touching the MiniBar Fees: Minbar technology has gotten scarily high-tech in some hotels as of late. Commenter skm explains that, “some mini-bars have electronic sensors so when a can or bottle is picked up, you are charged. This can easily be cleared up at check-out … if you notice.”

More crazy fees are popping up all the time, as hotels scramble for more ways to make money. Recently, one reader wrote in with news of a $50 “early departure fee,” a charge to customers cutting their reservation short.

So what can you do? Read the fine print in advance, and give yourself enough time at check out to review your bill, ask questions, and contest any fees that you feel shouldn’t be there. A lot of these fees are examples of negative option billing, which basically means it’s on the customer to make sure they don’t end up paying for things they didn’t use.

Reader lmcrancho sums up the proactive strategy best: ” Whenever I have been charged any fees I disagree with or was not told about ahead of time at a hotel (not part of a conference), I have contested them. This has been true in over 20 countries. In every case, they have been removed. Don’t pay for what you didn’t use.”

Have you found other sneaky hotel fees? Share them with other readers in the comments section below!

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