In a listless economy, look out for hidden resort fees

By | March 31st, 2009

Just when we thought the resort fee epidemic was under control, along comes a recession and ruins it for everyone.

Resort fees — those mandatory extra charges tacked on to your hotel bill to cover everything from beach towels to exercise facilities — are wrong on many levels. They’re nothing more than a sneaky way of raising your room rate. But until now, they’ve been in plain sight. Good hotels don’t charge them, but the bad hotels that do are up-front about them, at least.

Or were.

When Elvera Penner checked in to the Quality Inn & Suites Anaheim Resort, she had confirmed the rate carefully, like she always does. And then — bam!

We came up against this surprise $3.15 per day resort fee when we checked out. We asked to see the printout we had signed when we checked in — when they take your credit card imprint — and lo and behold, the resort fee was not included in that either! The manager grumbled mightily, but did remove the resort fee.

It may have been Penner’s case that prodded Quality Inn to clearly disclose the fee on its Web site. Either way, the surcharge is now highlighted in red, so it’s hard to miss.

Quality Inn should include all fees in the base price of its rooms. If it doesn’t, it needs to clearly disclose any required fees at the time of booking and when guests check in.

If a hotel doesn’t do any of these things, you should ask to have the charges removed. And what if it doesn’t? Talk to your credit card company.

As the economy staggers along, expect more hotels to try to slap a resort fee on your bill. When they do, put up a good fight. It keeps the whole lodging industry honest.

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