Hit by a late charge? Here’s why you should write it up

smokeJeanette Burton doesn’t smoke. Neither do her grandchildren, ages 5, 10 and 15, with whom she spent a recent Spring Break weekend at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort in Galveston, Texas.

But the hotel begged to differ. Maybe it was the fact that Burton and her extended family were there for Spring Break, which can be a raucous time in Galveston. Maybe the staff simply got her room confused with someone else’s. But after they checked out, Burton found a $150 fee on her credit card.

“I talked with the hotel and they said they charged another $150 because housecleaning had reported that I smoked in the room,” she says.
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Tip your hotel housekeeper … or else

Don’t forget to tip your housekeeper. If you do, you could end up paying a lot more in late charges.

Don’t believe me? Then listen to what Matthew Martinez has to say. A frequent traveler who has a network of friends who work in the hotel industry, he let me in on a little insider secret. Housekeepers and bellmen can exact their revenge on bad tippers — and they often do.

A lot of the time, late charges are a result of hotel employees helping themselves to mini-bar and snack items after guest leave or while they are not in the room.

I know of one individual who worked as a bellhop. Often, he would be asked to retrieve bags from a room while guests were checking out. If they did not tip him, he would help himself to an item from the snack basket or minibar.

Same is true of cleaning crews. Sometimes the items that the hotel charges are for, actually have been removed from the room — just not by the guest. Other times the employee responsible for keeping inventory just makes a mistake.

I think that these types of activities are responsible for more of those phantom charges than a sinister plot by the hotels management.

Some readers of this blog believe that hotels are behind the late charges, but Martinez offers an interesting counterpoint. If I were a low-paid employee who relied on tips, I might consider raiding the minibar and sticking an unappreciative customer with the bill.