Hotel fee warning: What “for your convenience” really means

Photo of author

By Christopher Elliott

If you’ve ever seen the words “for your convenience” on a hotel bill, you probably suspect it’s not really for your convenience. It’s for their convenience.

There are signs that promise your hotel isn’t changing your towels “for your convenience” or that it’s charging you a hefty parking fee “for your convenience.” Or even that a mandatory $30-a-night resort fee is there “for your convenience.”

Right. 

Whose convenience is it, really?

Hotel fees are on the rise. For example, the average mandatory resort fee has risen from $17 a night in 2015 to $26 this year. And there are stories — too many stories — about the properties cloaking their fees in “convenience” 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.  (Here’s a story about the surprise energy fees at the Oster Bay Beach Resort.)

How, he wonders, is that convenient for the guest? Don’t they really mean, “for the hotel’s convenience?”

Let’s not mince words. Unless a hotel staff member is helping you to your room or bringing you a room service meal, the phrase “for your convenience” is a red flag. It means the hotel is about to do something you will hate, like extract a gratuity from you.

By the way, if that happens, you can always reach out to our advocacy team. We’re here to help.

Is this hotel industry doublespeak?

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. (Related: Playing the media card in a resort fee dispute.)

Of course, almost none of this is convenient for 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 our readers:

No air conditioning

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.

Swipe your card before you cruise

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.

Wi-Fi fees

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.

Is it for your convenience when you overpay?

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 nonsense. (Related: Outrageous! Hotels are charging for parking — whether you have a car or not.)

“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.”

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? (Here’s how to find the best hotel at the best rate.)

What to do when it’s inconvenient for you

If a hotel hits you with a “convenience” charge, here’s what to do.

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 your invoice. 

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.

Photo of author

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 three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and 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 X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in São Paulo.

Related Posts