At hotels, ‘for your convenience’ rarely is

Look out — the hotel “convenience” wave is spreading.

You already know what I’m talking about. Any time you see the words “for your convenience,” it probably isn’t to your benefit. Historically, the lodging schemes range from a benign half-truth, like signs that promise your hotel isn’t changing your towels “for your convenience,” to outright howlers, like the convenience of a hefty parking fee added to your bill.

There’s plenty of evidence to show these practices are on the rise. A recent NYU study concluded that hotel fees and surcharges in the U.S. increased $100 million last year to a record $2.55 billion. And there are stories — too many stories — about the properties cloaking their fees in convenient language.

“Too often, when you see a hotel notice ‘for your convenience,’ it’s self-serving and far from being an advantage for the customer,” says Mike Jenkins, a frequent hotel guest who works for a university in East Lansing, Mich.

His least favorite? A note that for his “convenience” a hotel’s check-in time is at 3 p.m., and checkout is at 11 a.m. daily. How, he wonders, is that convenient for the guest? Don’t they really mean, “for the hotel’s convenience?”

Jamie Jeffers recently stayed in an all-suites hotel with her family of seven. “In the bathroom was a sign that said, ‘For your convenience, towels and sheets will only be changed every three days to keep our facilities green,’ ” recalls Jeffers, a writer and stay-at-home mom from Bethel, Ohio.

That one has been around for a while, but do you notice anything different? Many hotels adopted the “towel-on-the-floor” rule a decade or so ago. A placard on the hotel I’m staying in says, “Towels hung on the towel rack or shower door will be left for another use.” Jeffers’ hotel left her no choice.

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Of course, almost none of this is convenient to guests. It certainly is for the hotel, which doesn’t have to wash its towels as often. Spurious convenience claims have been spotted all over the place by readers:

• For your convenience, some hotels switched off your room’s air conditioning during certain summer hours. What they really mean is that they want to save energy, which is an admirable goal. But you have to take a long, long view on the benefits in order to see the convenience in it.

• Requiring a swipe of your credit card “for your convenience,” so that you can make purchases during your stay. Cruise lines do this, too. It’s not convenient to be able to spend money like a pirate while you’re on vacation, especially if you have kids.

• How about unexpected fees for parking or Wi-Fi? It’s decidedly inconvenient to have to scan your hotel receipts carefully to make sure you weren’t hit with unwarranted charges.

Even when it’s a real convenience, it often is overpriced. Customer service guru Shep Hyken, who is researching a book about convenience, says the hotel minibar is a legitimate convenience that also conveniently allows the hotel to help itself to more of your money.

“It amazes me how a guest will spend $4.50 for a 12-ounce can of Coke when he or she can walk down the hall to the vending machine and buy it for $1.25,” he says. “How much is convenience worth?”

Guests are getting wise to this. “I feel ‘for your convenience’ is a fancy way of saying ‘to improve our profit margin,’ ” says Brad Schweig, who manages a furniture store in Dallas. “It usually seems to benefit the hotel, not me.”

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He’s right. When you see the phrase, “For your convenience,” it’s actually a warning. Hotels shouldn’t be allowed to say it unless it’s true, but in the meantime, isn’t it nice that they’re tipping us off to their behavior?

What to do when it’s inconvenient for you

• Check your bill. Surcharges such as mandatory parking fees or hotel resort fees need to be challenged when they’re charged. Don’t wait until you’re on the flight home to notice them.

• Ask the hotel to adjust the bill. It’s not enough to tell the hotel a fee or service is inconvenient. You want them to remove the offending fee. Ask nicely, and if the answer is “no”’ you can always challenge your credit-card bill.

• Complain. Even if the hotel removes a “convenience” charge, you need to let management know how inconvenient it was for you. A brief, polite email to a manager ought to do the trick. If the hotel receives enough of these notes, it will adjust its wording, or better still, drop the charge entirely.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at

  • Mel65

    “For your convenience, I will be posting this all over social media and leaving a very convenient review of your facilities.”

  • MarkKelling

    This is exactly what I hate to see when I get any type of correspondence from any business because the change is always for their convenience, not mine.

  • LDVinVA

    I don’t understand hotels asking you to reuse your towels when they do not provide even a single towel rack! Therefore, we throw our towels on the floor. We sure don’t do this at home!

  • RightNow9435

    Re the garbage pickup, what is this “recycle” you speak of? Recycling is not mandatory here, and maybe 10% do it. That said, hotels and other places should be informed their convenience is not my convenience, and I will be taking my business to a place more convenient for ME.

  • KanExplore

    I am personally fine with reusing my towels. I certainly don’t wash them every day at home. But I’ve noticed that when I leave them hanging somewhere, they almost always change them anyway.

    But to the point of the article, I agree with it completely. If it’s an unfair charge, fight it, and also explain it in your review on TripAdvisor or any other site where the review is appropriate.

  • AMA

    I am suprised you don’t mention Ticketmaster, the biggest rip-off of all. I bought two tickets to a show with a special promotion of $30 per ticket. The “Convenience Fees” were $19.75 PER TICKET. Convenience? Yeah, lining the executives’ pockets.

  • y_p_w

    I’ve never been to a hotel that didn’t have a towel rack or at least a shower rod that I could sling the towel over. Still – I prefer fresh towels every day.

    Typically there’s a sign saying it’s for environmental considerations in using less water.

  • y_p_w

    Theoretically it’s for the convenience of not having to line up at the venue, which will typically sell it without “convenience fees”. Thirty years ago you’d typically find these outlets like Ticketron, BASS,, or Ticketmaster at record stores However, in this day and age when online ticket sales can snap up popular events in minutes, waiting in line at the venue could mean getting shut out. So yeah you’ll probably end up forking over those fees.

  • Bill___A

    “For your convenience” I will be dealing at another hotel that doesn’t “help” me so much!

  • LDVinVA

    Well, I have – last week – two Holiday Inn Express hotels, one in Florida and one in South Carolina. And a few weeks ago, a very nice Hilton in New Jersey.

  • joycexyz

    Love it!

  • joycexyz

    Do you ever wonder who picks through your garbage looking for those recyclables?

  • joycexyz

    That’s really funny!

  • joycexyz

    First cousin to “For your protection…” When I want your protection, I’ll ask for it.

  • Fishplate

    “…a guest will spend $4.50 for a 12-ounce can of Coke when he or she can walk down the hall to the vending machine and buy it for $1.25,” he says. “How much is convenience worth?”

    Clearly, convenience is worth $3.25.

    At least in this case, the hotel gives you a simple choice that is easily quantifiable, and easily avoided if you don’t want to pay for the “convenience”. However, charging a resort fee is less convenient.

  • Pegtoo

    And second cousin to “New improved taste!”… excusing the flavor difference after substituting cheaper ingredients.

  • MarkKelling

    The trucks that pick up the recycle and regular garbage from my house are equipped with cameras and what comes out of the trash can is recorded (there is also a sensor on the can that is mapped to your house so the right garbage gets credited to the right house). Then someone in an air conditioned office scans the video with help of some interesting software to see what you put in there. It isn’t perfect, but does help the city identify where they can look for improvement in the separating of regular land fill trash and recyclables.

    What bothers me is the people who put their garbage in your can because they have too much to fit in their can.

  • Travelnut

    In my experience, most hotels have either vending machines or a minibar but not both. No matter, I can usually buy room drinks/snacks outside the hotel.

  • joycexyz

    I had no idea they were so high-tech. What a fascinating job that person in the office has!

  • joycexyz

    And let’s not forget “new improved packaging” as an excuse to give you less product for the same (or higher) price.

  • ChelseaGirl

    I’m sure Haagen Dazs thinks we didn’t notice that their pints of ice cream went down to 15 ounces, and then to 14 ounces. The price did not go down. The only time I buy them now is if they are on major sale. Many yogurts are now a bit over five ounces. I only buy the ones that are six ounces.

  • The Original Joe S

    Parking? what if you didn’t arrive in a car?
    WIFI? what if you don’t have any WIFI devices?

    Caught a guy overcharging me for an extra beer yesterday. ALWAYS LOOK!

  • The Original Joe S

    If I’m paying a high price for the hotell, I expect clean towels daily.

  • The Original Joe S

    A certain company which makes devices to store food better closes after christmas for “inventory” or some other such stupidity. They haven’t figured out that people who buy their products want ACCESSORIES. Wait until January? Return the device.

    There’s a strip which wears out. They won’t sell it to you. You can get a roll of the strips from China for about $8 which will service 10 or 20 devices. Morons…….

  • The Original Joe S

    I’m protected by Col. Colt, Mr. Garand, Mr. Remington, Mr Smith and Mr Wesson, and Mr. Ruger.

  • The Original Joe S

    Mad Magazine did one on this in the early 60s. Showed how they put spacers in the candy-bar package so that there’s more cardboard than candy. These scams have been going on for a long time.

  • The Original Joe S

    How about half-gallon containers of ice cream are now 1.5 quarts? Soon they’ll go metric and sell 750s. Just like booze: Quarts -> fifths -> 750s.

  • The Original Joe S

    I read somewhere that some hotells have sensors in the ice box which charge you if you remove stuff. Well, If I want to put something in to get cold, I just remove all the junk from the fridge and put it on the floor or in a box. Check the bill at checkout. GEE? All these sodas? I didn’t drink your sodas – they’re in the room. Go check, and remove the charges. Ten Jew Berry Muds!

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