Yes, you can fight a resort fee — and win

Mandatory resort fees have been annoying hotel guests for almost as long as I’ve been covering the hotel industry, which is to say, a long time. But how do you persuade a property to remove these unwanted extras from your bill?

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In the past, simply asking to have the additional $10 or $20 a night stricken from your bill was enough. Not anymore. Now, your friendly hotel clerk is far likelier to take a hard line when you’re checking out.

Consider what happened to George Lilley when he checked into Treasure Island Las Vegas recently. Its non-negotiable $20 resort fee, which covers Internet access, phone calls and gym access, is among the worst-disclosed I’ve ever seen (you have to scroll to the bottom of this page, and it still isn’t entirely clear if the fee is required). Apparently, the same is true when booking by phone.

Prior to our trip to Las Vegas, we telephoned several casino/hotels for prices before we provided our credit card to complete the transaction.

Treasure Island’s quote was accepted based on Treasure Island nightly charges provided us. When my wife called to obtain the quote for prices, no mention was made of a “Resort Fee.”

When Lilley and his wife checked into Treasure Island, they again asked a hotel representative to verify their rate. He did, and they handed him their credit card.

He ran the charges against our card and then handed us a prepared sheet entitled, “*$20 + Tax ($22.40) total) Daily Resort Fee Includes”

I informed the representative that we were visiting with friends throughout our stay and would have no time for being involved with anything listed on this form. I was told that this is part of the charge.

This form notice provided after our credit card was charged, was our first notice of a “Resort Fee” charge.

What now?

Well, had the Lilley known about the resort fee, they might be out of luck. But Treasure Island had quoted them one rate but then increased the price by $112. In situations like this, I recommend a credit card dispute.

Which is exactly what they did.

Yesterday, he sent me an update:

A letter from American Express stated, “OUTCOME – This dispute has been resolved in your favor. The merchant has not yet provided the information necessary to resolve your claim. Therefore, we have issued credit to your account and removed the previously suspended amount, which will reflect on an upcoming statement.”

Folks, remember this when you encounter a surprise surcharge. The hotel may not see things your way. But your charge card just might.

(Photo: jamiejohndavies/Flickr Creative Commons)