“Unfortunately the resort fee is a mandatory charge … thank you and have a magical stay”

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Christopher Elliott

Sue Allen and her husband, Dale, have been coming to the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin for years. “We love the convenience and location,” Sue says of Orlando resort hotel.

But on their last stay, they discovered a foul surprise: A $10 “resort fee” that supposedly covered Internet, phone and water, “none of which we need or have any use for,” says Allen.

The Allens want to return to the Swan and Dolphin, but they don’t want to pay the resort fee, which strikes them as a hidden room rate increase. So they emailed the hotel, asking if it could do something.

Both my husband and I were very dismayed by this charge and agreed that we would go elsewhere the next time we visited unless this fee was waived.

Well, it’s that time again and I really do not want to go elsewhere!

Is there any way this “resort fee” can be waived? I do not feel that it’s proper to force this charge on someone if you do not use the Internet, phone or the water. We are hoping to come up for two nights in May and as I stated previously, we really love our stays there.

Here’s how the Swan and Dolphin responded:

Thank you for your inquiry and stay here at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, unfortunately the resort fee is a mandatory charge for all reservation, however we appreciate your stay with us here and hope you continue as well. If you call with your dates we will be more than happy to check if we have a specials available for you but unfortunately the resort service fee is a fee that is not waived it is a mandatory for all guest.

Thank you and have a magical stay.

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My position on mandatory resort fees is well-known. I do not need to repeat myself.

However, I thought I’d give the Swan and Dolphin one more chance to respond. So I contacted it on Allen’s behalf. Here’s what it had to say:

The resort services charge is a flat fee for a package of commonly used guest services: in-room high-speed internet, water, health club access and outside telephone calls.

In the past, these items were charged separately per use. We bundled them into a flat-fee package, in response to guest complaints of encountering a variety of small charges for each of these items.

This bundle provides a savings of more than $35 a day, if purchased separately: in-room high speed internet – $13.95 per day; 2 bottles of water daily ($2 each); health club usage ($8 per day or $20 length of stay for the individual); Long distance (AT&T rate plus 65% surcharge); toll-free or local calls ($.10 per minute).

Florida State Attorney regulations do not allow us to selectively bill for the resort services package and the majority of our guests utilize the package during their stay.

I’m staying out of this one. Discuss amongst yourselves, my friends.

(Photo: Anthony Dahl Wheeler/Flickr Creative Commons)

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, Forbes and the Washington Post. He also publishes Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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