Hyatt resorts to a fee refund without me even asking

Is a separate, mandatory hotel fee really a fee?

A popular Chesapeake Bay Hyatt in Cambridge, Md., claimed it was when the Good News Guy himself recently stayed there to participate in a hosted professional workshop.

Although their additional and unexpected $26 a day resort fee was disclosed after starting the reservation process, the total still remained (perhaps) an acceptable value.

But why separate it out from the room rate in the first place? Well, we all know why.

When Hyatt emailed me a survey later regarding my stay, my first thought was be careful of what you ask for … you might get it. Well, they did. Fairly and politely, and with no hope on my part of anyone caring.

Or so I thought.

Fees, fees, and more fees. Our forum is oozing with fee outrage and would make a good bad news guy column. But while the battle rages on, there may be hope.

Travel is expensive. No way around it. Things cost money and businesses need to profit while remaining competitive. And that leaves the advertised room rate as the hotel’s first line of marketing defense — or attack.

The Good News Guy continues his own streak of worthy experiences needing to be told, remembering also to be fair. To Hyatt’s credit, this particular stay was outstanding when they hosted a congress I attended offering an attractive discounted rate for event participants.

But the total daily rate was not the total daily rate.

Huh?

Hotel rooms with all their operational costs have an overhead determined by free market supply and demand generating whatever profit the market will bear — or whatever customers are willing to pay for the product. But some hotels, especially in “vacation-dense” destinations, levy an additional and mandatory resort fee separately from the daily room charge, which allows it to be advertised at a lower than actual rate.

Wait, how can this be a fee if it is mandatory for all guests? A fee by definition is an optional cost incurred for an elective service or product. For example, not everyone arrives at a hotel by car, and for those who do, while it may be burdensome, one can stay at the hotel without parking there.

But what if I did not use the fitness center or pool? Too bad.

If a fee is mandatory, shouldn’t it simply be rolled into the total room cost? Yes, it should, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) agrees. While overly intrusive government may be a legitimate concern in some matters, in this case you go, FTC.

Being able to advertise deceptive room rates that tack on the mandatory fee after initiating the reservation process opens a whole new marketing strategy of endless unbundling when taken to its logical conclusion.

I once noticed an otherwise high-quality beach hotel sneak in a one dollar mandatory fee on my bill upon checkout for their in-room safe. I was directed to fine print on the check-in document that said I can initial the waiver to not use the safe.

Can you say slimy? One dollar. And why just the safe? Who even notices? That was the whole point, yet I bet it added up over time. They removed it immediately upon request.

Perhaps next a hotel can levy a mandatory fee for the TV, cable, or coffee maker. How about the ironing board or hairdryer? The principle is the same. In fact, some hotels unsuccessfully tried to do that with their internet access once.

Gosh. Cynicism is unbecoming for the Good News Guy. I’m sorry. Let’s get back on a positive track.

Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if I, of all people, did not praise with the same vigor as complain? Yes, it would.

Among all the overly entitled teeth-gnashing and hand-wringing around us, a compliment is not that hard. And even big corporations can be starving for a kind word when deserved. So I let Hyatt know in my email survey response that my stay was exemplary and the total event cost was still a decent value.

I didn’t ask for anything. Rather, I politely added in their comments section how their questionable resort fee unbundling maneuver is not becoming of their caliber of hotel.

To my complete surprise, I was blown away to find a personal email from their corporate office next day expressing their regrets and refunding fully the total resort fees on the spot.

Wow. They actually listened to me and were really sorry.

The bigger message is they acknowledged in their own way it might be time for a change. We know nothing is free, whether internet, a safe, pool, or fitness center.

Even though their surcharge was disclosed and accepted, that does not offset an underhanded tactic of advertising misleading rates that perhaps cheapens their brand and backfires. If the room cost plus resort fee is their true total profit they desire, then simply put it in one room rate and let the informed customer choose.

In the end, Hyatt hung their head a bit but also discounted the net cost on their own to make it up to me, and for that they deserve recognition.

They gave me flowers and I took them back. I am a pushover, I guess.

Hotel resort fees are ...

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Underwritten by

Underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Underwritten by Enterprise

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

Underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Underwritten by InsureMyTrip

It’s simple. InsureMyTrip finds you the right travel insurance plan, every time. InsureMyTrip is the authority on travel insurance. Rated A+ for travel insurance by the Better Business Bureau. All travelers that purchase a policy through  InsureMyTrip have access to Anytime Advocates® for claims assistance.

Underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Underwritten by SCOTTeVEST

An innovative apparel brand for people who want easy access to everything they need. For those who live for every second, SCOTTeVEST lets you maximize your life. Ditch the carry-on bag and pick up a  SCOTTeVEST.

Underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Underwritten by Sungard Availability Services

Leveraging more than 35 years of experience, Sungard AS designs, builds and runs critical IT services that help businesses manage complex IT, adapt quickly and build resiliency and availability. A leading provider of critical production and recovery services, Sungard AS partners with customers across the globe, delivering resilient IT systems, infrastructure and recovery services tailored to achieving desired business outcomes.

Underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

%d bloggers like this:
Get smart. Sign up for the newsletter.