Check the bill for unexpected fees
I know there are plenty of new fees that the airlines come up, but what about hotels? I hear that in some hotels you pay more than the rate you hear over the phone or on the Internet. Is that true?
It appears that some — and maybe even many — hotels now are charging fees that were complimentary in the past. Just like the airlines, and some of the fees you aren't aware of until it's too late.
So consumers have to be wary and once again, you have to read the fine print or ask questions ahead of time. Some of the ones that I have been caught short on include the costs for using the minibar in my room.
Some hotels have found a way to make the price even steeper with restocking fees — and you may not have been told about them upfront. You probably are aware that a can of pop from the minibar may cost you $5, but additionally the hotel may charge you a few more dollars for restocking.
Also — and I read this somewhere — many minibars have automatic sensors, so don't move items or you could trip the sensor and get charged whether you grab the can of soda or not.
Another fee I've encountered was in a plush Las Vegas hotel. It was called a "convenience fee" that amounted to $15 a day whether you used the fitness room or not, or if you had a computer with you or not. If you did have a computer, convenience fees were charged whether you used it in your room or not.
The fee even covers the use of the swimming pool.
I found out about it when I checked out of the hotel and looked over my bill. I wasn't told about it when I checked in, but the charge finally came off my bill after I protested to the manager on duty.
Another profit center for many hotels is the parking fee. Some hotels, like in San Francisco, I'm told, charge up to $60 a day for their parking fee. The only way around that one is to rent a car only on the day or days you need it and not during your entire stay. A one-day rental charge may come high but it is still about the only way to avoid a large hotel parking fee.
All of these fees and charges add up. One analyst says that in 2009, the U.S. lodging and hospitality industry collected about $1.55 billion from such charges. That is up from $1 billion in 2003.
The bottom line: Don't expect hotels to advertise these charges in their in-room brochures. But you will learn about them when you get the bill.