A $500 fee for being American and other absurd hotel surcharges By Christopher Elliott | August 28, 2012 FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest Nick Pilolla thought he’d made a reservation at the Renaissance Aruba Beach Resort & Casino through Otel.com, a European travel website. The all-inclusive rate for four rooms came to $5,361 — not a bad deal for five nights in the islands. But then Otel.com sent him an email saying it couldn’t honor the rate. “They wanted another $1,200,” he says. Why? “There are a number of resorts/hotels that have different rates and conditions according to the guest’s nationality,” Otel.com explained in a note. “In some cases the rates on our website at these particular resorts/hotels will not be applicable for the US market.” A $1,200 fee for being American? Seriously? Otel.com agreed to lower the fee to $500 as a gesture of goodwill. But Pillola is incredulous. “They’re charging me an extra $500 because I’m American,” he says. “Is that a joke?” Maybe, maybe not. Hotels, envious of the fees that airlines are collecting ($22 billion worldwide last year) are getting creative — maybe a little bit too creative — when it comes to their surcharges. They’re projected to earn nearly $2 billion in the United States this year, nearly quadruple the $550 million they raked in a decade ago. I asked an Otel.com representative to clarify the $500 fee, but did not hear back from her. It’s possible that Pilolla was quoted a rate that wasn’t all-inclusive, and that this was a simple rate error. I want to believe that’s the case. If it isn’t, and the hotel or the online travel agency is just adding a surcharge because of someone’s nationality — well, that would be a pure money grab. The topic of fees, absurd and otherwise, is on the hotel industry’s mind these days. I refer to a recent write-up on an industry website, which suggested these extras are a key contributor to many properties’ profits. The article cited the example of The Clarendon Hotel in Phoenix that introduced a $25 per night “hotel service fee” during the last recession — since then reduced to $17 a night — that covers everything from the use of the its exercise facilities to daily newspaper delivery. The fee is mandatory. “It’s OK to charge fees as long as you’re always giving the guest value that’s perceived to be higher than the fee,” the Clarendon Hotel’s general manager and owner, Ben Bethel, told the site. He also claimed that transparency — which is hotel-speak for telling people about the required fee — was important. The report framed the hotel’s “service” fee as a success story. More than 20 percent of total room revenue at The Clarendon during the past 12 months is attributable directly to the fee, it noted. Perhaps they should have looked for a different example. Because in the story comments, a well-known hotel technology consultant did a little due diligence and found the Clarendon’s rhetoric didn’t really match the reality. “It is disingenuous to call this form of resort fee disclosure transparent,” he wrote. He noted that there was no disclosure of the fee from the room selection page. In addition, the rate page is misleading, he said. “Most consumers would reasonably conclude that the hotel service fee is simply referring to the hotel room rate, not an additional resort fee,” he noted. What does all of this have to do with you? Well, turns out the conventional wisdom — that airlines are out to getcha with extra fees — is only half true. Hotels are also licking their chops at that ancillary revenue, and, given a chance, they will help themselves to more of your money. Nothing wrong with that, of course. But the key is knowing to expect the surcharges and adequate disclosure from the hotel. And since hotels aren’t federally regulated, and can’t be forced to reveal all of their ancillary fees the same way that airlines might, the burden is on you, dear hotel guest, to do your homework. If you don’t, we could end up living in a world where we pay an extra $500 fee for being American. Although Otel.com wouldn’t respond to my inquiries about its “Yankees pay more” surcharge, it did contact Pillola. “They have sent me notice that they are asking the Aruba hotel for an explanation on the extra fee imposed on American passport holders,” he told me. “This all sounds like allot of [expletive], but if it saves face for them and they refund my money — then it works for me.” FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest Christopher ElliottChristopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on our help forum.More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Google Plus MMM Try finding prices for hotels in Fiji, none of them list the prices on their website for this reason! Nica If they start with this, what is next? Fees for being male or female? Tall or short? Long hair or short hair? Using Dove or Ivory soap? Give me a break! kakeyte I am an American living in the UK. This goes on everywhere, not only in travel but retail, etc. Take a look at Amazon. The US price is usually about half what the price is if I log in on their uk site. Or rental cars, I think Chris has highlighted this before. I am paying a very low rate for our rental in Spain, sourced through a UK site, but trying getting this same deal through a US website, no way! So what I am saying is that it works both ways, so we shouldn’t grumble. Citizentraveller There seems to be discriminatory pricing when buying goods over the Internet. For example, a person in Australia (based on their ISP’s address) pays more for Apple iTunes downloads than a person in the US. Expedia here will only quote prices for foreign flights and hotels in Australian dollars which makes it hard to decide if their price is fair in comparison with other sellers. I prefer sites such as Accor Hotels or HotlelClub which allow you to convert the original price into any currency you choose using current official rates of exchange. It’s best to look at a hotel’s own website if possible before checking other online booking sites. I have recently been doing bookings for a trip through China and I have looked only at websites that give a price in Chinese yuan (with the option of converting to another currency). Fly, Icarus, Fly Even though surprising to many, I don’t think this is a new thing. Lots of international hotels have different rates for different nationalities (aka markets). Instead of thinking of it as paying more for certain nationalities, the hotels tend to view it as giving a discount to target nationalities / markets. Some hotel deals I’ve seen state that you must be a resident of the country to get them. That being said, if a hotel chooses to do this type of selective promoting, the very first thing the consumer needs to do is enter their nationality before seeing a price. Otherwise, it’s pretty scammy to see one price but be charged another. emanon256 I agree with Icarus, this is really a discount for a market they are trying to attract, not a fee based on nationality. I see this all the time, with a lot more than hotels. The hotel is getting a lot of people form the states, and they want to attract more people from Europe, so they are offering lower rates to people in Europe. The OP used a European travel site to get the special rate, and got caught. He is not eligible for that rate, so they are asking him to pay up. What surprises me more than anything is that there are more than 2,000 no votes by 7:30am. Usually I see less than 500 total votes by this time of the day. john4868 So Chris when are you going to write the article on how unfair the FL only rates are at your local parks? How about its really unfair that certain people get pin codes for discounts from Raven’s favorite Di$ney (spelled it that way just for you Raven)? How about the FL only deals that cruiselines give? Why can’t I purchase something using a senior rate when I’m 39 or the AAA rate when I’m not a member? Targeted marketing goes on everywhere. It could be location based, individual based, age based or membership based. He purchased using a rate that he didn’t qualify and got caught. He’s not being charged because he’s American. He’s being charged because he not a member of the group included in the rate. john4868 Yea I think a bot took over the survey Walt Blackadar I simply don’t pay for undisclosed/misleading fees. It’s that simple. If I’ve booked a hotel for $x per night and have a printed reservation, if they try to charge $y per night I simply won’t pay it. I often won’t dispute it when I’m checking in – I simply correct their form (if they give me one) with the rate when checking in and the clerks never look at it. When I’m checking out, I just tell the counter clerks that my confirmed rate was $x. When they start talking about “mandatory fees”, I give them two options – reduce the bill now, or I’ll just charge it back with the documentation I already have. Only once as a hotel failed to reduce the bill to the appropriate rate and they ended up getting $0 for my stay when I successfully completed the chargeback. Some people may think that’s dishonest. It’s not. The dishonesty occurred when the hotel didn’t disclose a mandatory “fee” (which is just another way of jacking up the room rate). I’m not going to spend a lot of time fighting it because it’s not worth my time to fight their dishonesty. I’m just simply not going to pay for it. Chris_In_NC and in related news… – Disney offers special rates for Florida residents only (http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/florida-residents/) – Restaurants in Vermont automatically add gratuities for foreigners (http://abcnews.go.com/Business/burlington-vt-restaurants-add-gratuity-foreigners-bills/story?id=17076167#.UDywN6Pl98E) – Cruise lines offer discounts for residents in specific states or countries. So what’s new??? The fact is, as a American tourist in a 3rd world foreign country, you are often fleeced. There is often a “local” rate and a “tourist” rate.Think we have it bad? The Japanese rate is often higher than the “Western” aka American rate. Whether this is right or wrong, this is simply basic economics. Now service fees, that’s a whole different ball of wax. Christopher Elliott No, this post appears on Frommers.com too (at least until the new owners at Google send me packing). The votes are real. BillCCC I voted yes. They should be allowed. As a business they are free to charge what they want within the laws of that country. It is up to customers to decide whether or not to stay there. I am certain that almost every person from the US that stays there is not aware of a difference in price. On the other I do not think that they should. This type of discrimination should be advertised and consumers can then decide whether or not they want to give their money to this type of company. Don’t get me started on “mandatory” fees. They should be part of the rate. Adam_The_Man This is another scam. It should be illegal to offer different rates to different people. If the LW found a price on line and booked it, that is what they should pay. Michael__K The way targeted marketing normally works and ought to work is that the general public is quoted the standard rate. If people are eligible for targeted discounts, then those should be *subtracted*. If senior citizens were charged MORE, that would probably be offensive. Local amusement park discounts are subtracted, and they don’t favor some out-of-towners over others. A more appropriate analogy to what Chris describes would be if residents from far-away states were charged extra if they resided in an “affluent” zip code. Some people may fine that offensive (and I would tend to agree). Adam_The_Man I could not agree more!! S E Tammela Heh. The rest of the world is used to getting double the quotes that Americans get for cruises. john4868 Do you know he was charged extra? It’s equally probable based on the details provided that he purchase a rate that he didn’t qualify for. When they found out, they moved him to the correct rate … for example… Europeans get 25% off (yea I know that the OPs example isn’t 25%). Since he was on a European website, that’s the rate he was shown but he doesn’t qualify for it. When they caught it, they added the 25% off back on. He isn’t being charged extra because he’s American. He’s just not getting the discount that he didn’t qualify for, severnwatcher Disney offers Florida rates to residents, in part, as a thank you for the locals having to put up with traffic, tourists, etc. They also offer the rate to entice folks who live close to come when they otherwise may not. It’s a discount from the widely published ‘rack rates’ – not the addition of a select fee to a very select group. If there were extra processing costs associated with booking guests from other countries, I wouldn’t have a problem with it as long as it were in proportion to those costs (but in an era of internet booking and cc companies doing automaticc currency conversions there really aren’t), – this is clearly a discriminatory money grab. Kairho As a once-upon-a-time tour operator in the 1990s we did indeed have hotel rates for standalone hotel-only bookings which were specific to our market (Americas) and we could not sell into other regions. If we packaged with transfers and flights then we could use the Americas rates if incorporated non-transparently into the package price. This was generally done back in the day; it is not a new thing. Target marketing. Fortunately for us, the Americas rates were lower than rates for other regions so who were we to complain? By the way, these rated were not done by nationality of the customer, only where they were booking from, just as airlines have one rate for a NYC originating flight booking and sometimes a different one for London bookings, for the same itinerary. Kairho It is only one of many reasons. ExplorationTravMag Nothing surprises me anymore… Michael__K Why are you calling it a “European website?” I know the company is based in the UK, but the OP visited their “.com” site where all prices are quoted in US Dollars. The OP would have had to enter his billing address and Passport country to book the hotel. I can’t find the OP’s hotel (maybe they removed it?) but I don’t see any disclosures in the general terms or on other hotel deals that suggest Americans might not be eligible. UPDATE: I finally found this hotel on Otel.com and there is no disclosure visible (search for July 16-20 2013). IGoEverywhere A hotel may charge whatever they wish. This is an international hotel, but…..where is Pillola from, the USA, some foreign country? He booked this through a foreign web-site. WOW! He is at their mercy. If you book throught APlle, GOGO WWV, Vacation Express, and 1000 more US companies, you get what you paid for. The rate?, way out of line, but the type of room, dates of travel were left out of the article, leaving those of us that could really tear into the story, with no exact prices.PITTSBURGH is $2072. for a whole week EP per couple with air, taxes, and transfers and $4202.00 all inclusive – date 10/4 -10/11/12 john4868 So .. if I call Disney from a FL cell phone into a FL locals phone number and they a give me the FL rate but soon realize that I’m from OH. Is it a money grab that they come back and give me a higher rate? Are they charging me extra for being from OH? No. I didn’t qualify for the first rate. They corrected it to the rate I do qualify for. There’s nothing in the story that says that the initial quote was the rack rate. In fact based on the communication with website, it appears to be a discounted rate he did not qualify for. Christina Conte I think the biggest difference between the Aruba resort and Disney, for example, is that the resort is ADDING a fee for a reason, whereas Disney is DISCOUNTING for a reason. Big difference! Joe_D_Messina So, what happened after the chargeback when the hotel sent you a bill and eventually turned it over to a collection agency? (If that wasn’t the final outcome, you were extremely fortunate.) I fully understand your frustration with undisclosed fees, but they won’t magically get you off the hook for the cost of the entire stay. And even if you can get your credit card company to do a chargeback, you aren’t in the clear as far as them being able to come after you for what you owe. John Thompson I once phoned a hotel property in Zimbabwe, in Victoria Falls, and asked for a rate quote. They asked my nationality and explained that the rates were different depending on my nationality and country of residence. I explained that I didn’t shop for a hotel based on my nationality, just based on the hotel property. They refused to quote me and I decided to stay in Livingstone, Zambia instead and never set foot in Zimbabwe. john4868 I don’t know like in the website’s statement “There are a number of resorts/hotels that have different rates and conditions according to the guest’s nationality,” Otel.com explained in a note. “In some cases the rates on our website at these particular resorts/hotels will not be applicable for the US market.” or just maybe Chris’s Otel.com, a European travel website BTW a number of non-US websites use .com. Its not a restricted use domain y_p_w Charging different rates depending on where one is from isn’t unusual. I remember when Disneyland had a two for one special only for Southern California residents. I actually got the deal because someone else in my group (already had an annual pass) was from the area. I remember going to a Nevada hotel with a “locals” discount of 25%. john4868 Prove that they are adding a fee… There’s nothing in the article that supports that statement. They charged him more because they removed a discount he didn’t qualify for. They didn’t add a fee on top of their rack rate. There’s a difference. Michael__K That’s what they told Chris after the fact. Why isn’t that disclosed on their website? If you enter Otel’s websites through other channels, you will get quoted prices in other currencies (e.g. Euros). When I enter through the .com site from a US IP address, it uses US Dollars by default. TonyA_says This article is quite confusing. I googled the hotel or resort. Well, I found out that it is a Marriott. http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/auabr-renaissance-aruba-resort-and-casino/ “IF” there is any area pricing going on then blame the AMERICAN company. Otel dotcom is a Metglobal company [from Turkey]. We have discussed these folks in Elliott’s site (maybe a couple of times) already. They are hotel room merchant (wholesaler) – meaning they sell rooms that are intended to be packaged with tours for a special PREPAID rate. As a merchant, Otel dotcom is responsible for creating packages and marketing and pricing its deals. The hotel property is out of it and only provides the room and its amenities. All the guests do is arrive in the hotel with Metglobal’s voucher in hand. It’s hard to believe the hotel had anything to do with the [discriminatory] pricing at all. Walt Blackadar I still have the confirmation for the appropriate charges, so they can’t prove that I owe more than that. If they want to charge me the appropriate amount, they’re free to do so and I’ll pay it. If they want to charge more, then I don’t. In all the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve only had to pursue the chargeback avenue once, so it’s a non issue. So it’s extremely unlikely to get that far, but if they sent me to a collection agency…well, proof-of-debt is a powerful thing. When you have the proof of what you owe, collection agencies will back off – they don’t like getting hauled into court and having to pay thousands in penalties for trying to collect an invalid debt. Lindabator there has always been different prices for each market. had he booked with an American tour operator, he would have paid the face price, while someone from the UK would have paid more. This is also based on secondary factors, as which rooms Americans would be more prone to accept (we tend to be pickier about views), room sizes and/or amenities in some cases. And when they release prices, it is based on agreements with their tour operators to these areas as well, and they have laws against under-cutting them written in to those agreements. So, oftentimes, they want to attract a new market, and can set lower fares to do so, but they do not apply to those of a particular area they already deal with extensively. Lindabator Actually, he is still not paying rack rates, he is just not eligible for the discount the European market is entitled to for that particular destination/hotel booking. Works the same in reverse – if I book 2 couples on a Cunard cruise, for example, the Americans pay a lower rate, as that is the market with fewer travellers onboard, and who they wish to entice with the fares. Its just that the UK clients, rather than actually spending MORE, are spending the base fare, and the US is being discounted. Here, he booked on a European site, and did not qualify for the discount. Lindabator But he booked on a EUROPEAN site, so he would not be European, and would not qualify for the discounted rates they qualify for. Michael__K Where is it disclosed that this a “European site?” If the OP entered through otel.com from a US IP Address then he booked on an English language site, with a New York, NY contact address, a USA toll-free number, and all prices were quoted in US Dollars. Lindabator funny – I was just sent an email from the Hapag-Lloyd cruise line with a special for Americans (priced in Euros) – it was substantially lower than the same fares for Europeans on that cruise – again, they are not being charged MORE – we are being discounted, as Americans do not usually cruise that line (even tho the Europa is the finest cruise ship afloat, by all estimations) DavidYoung2 In California, they want to see your photo ID if you’re using a Southern California discount ticket. Michael__K Prove that the OP booked a discounted deal with eligibility restrictions clearly disclosed. Do you agree that disclosure is necessary? Why isn’t Otel referring to their disclosure? ========== UPDATE: “Prove that they are adding a fee” Go to Otel.com and search for a hotel in Aruba from July 16-20, 2013. Select the Renaissance Aruba Beach Resort. Study all the fine print and let me know when you find a disclosure that this is a special discount for Europeans or any other restricted group (I don’t think you will find any). DavidYoung2 The ‘whole different ball of wax’ is the failure of the hotels (and many other companies) to keep up with the internet. Charging fee differentials was fine when you used travel agents. But by it’s very nature the internet advertising ‘commoditizes’ the product making pricing differentials much more difficult, especially since people using the internet to self-book travel tend to be more price savvy. severnwatcher People! This was a fee, added later, how is that not a surcharge, it’s definitely not ‘rack rate’…. Michael__K Note that disclosure and appropriateness are distinct issues here. If Disney Florida charged seniors extra or charged customers from Beverly Hills and Santa Monica extra, are you suggesting that would be legitimate “targeted marketing,” assuming it was clearly disclosed? And are you conceding that targeted marketing is always wrong if the discount rates and eligibility are not clearly disclosed? emanon256 Why is it that wherever a customer looses a discount they are not actually eligible for, they call it a fee that was added later? Christina Conte I believe Chris’ title of this article “A $500 fee for being American and other absurd hotel surcharges” says it is a fee. Michael__K Why is it that some commenters never believe the customer and yet are willing to believe in unseen disclosures that the vendor itself doesn’t even argue exist? I finally found this hotel on Otel.com (search for July 16-20, 2013) and there is NO DISCLOSURE that this is a “European-only” deal that I can find. Booking Details: 1. We understand that sometimes plans fall through. We do not charge a change or cancel fee. However, this property imposes the following penalty to its customers that we are required to pass on:2. No penalty for cancellations up to 11 July 2013 12:00 noon destination time.3. Cancellations made after 11 July 2013 12:00 noon destination time will be assessed 771 USD.4. If you do not arrive to the hotel or check out early, you will be liable to full charges. 5. Remarks: The Package Includes:-Daily American breakfast or breakfast buffet in renaissance operated Outlets-Daily a la carte or buffet lunch in Renaissance operated outlets-Daily a la carte or buffet dinner in Renaissance operated Outlets. Dinner is defined as 1 Appetizer or Salad, 1 entree and 1 desert from the menu-F&B Service Charge-Free use of patamingo Kid`s Club-Discount on Indoor Spa treatments.***IMPORTANT*Children 12 and under are required to choose from Kids Menu where available.*Alcoholic beverages will not be served to minors (17 years and under)*Room Service and in room minibar are not included*Full bottles of any type of liquor are not included. john4868 Because it wasn’t a “fee added later,” it was a lost discount. Just like if you booked a hotel on a AAA rate and then couldn’t produce a AAA card at check in. They aren’t adding a surcharge when they move you to the public rate, they are removing a discount you weren’t qualified for. Michael__K Why is that some commenters refuse to believe that a customer might be right and instead choose to assume that disclosures which even the vendor themselves doesn’t reference must somehow exist? Don’t take my word or anyone elses word for anything. Go to Otel.com and search for a room in Aruba for July 16-20, 2013. Pick the Renaissance Aruba Beach Resort & Casino. Look for a disclosure that says Americans are ineligible and need to pay $500 more. You won’t find it. Booking Details: 1. We understand that sometimes plans fall through. We do not charge a change or cancel fee. However, this property imposes the following penalty to its customers that we are required to pass on: 2. No penalty for cancellations up to 11 July 2013 12:00 noon destination time. 3. Cancellations made after 11 July 2013 12:00 noon destination time will be assessed 771 USD. 4. If you do not arrive to the hotel or check out early, you will be liable to full charges. 5. Remarks: The Package Includes:-Daily American breakfast or breakfast buffet in renaissance operated Outlets-Daily a la carte or buffet lunch in Renaissance operated outlets-Daily a la carte or buffet dinner in Renaissance operated Outlets. Dinner is defined as 1 Appetizer or Salad, 1 entree and 1 desert from the menu-F&B Service Charge-Free use of patamingo Kid`s Club-Discount on Indoor Spa treatments.***IMPORTANT*Children 12 and under are required to choose from Kids Menu where available.*Alcoholic beverages will not be served to minors (17 years and under)*Room Service and in room minibar are not included*Full bottles of any type of liquor are not included. Bill___A The site talks about foreign transaction fees and how Capital One doesn’t charge them (although they apparently now do). This website is clearly targeted at many markets, including the American one. If the hotel does offer a rate only for europeans, they should state so. I note that when buying airline tickets (because they DO charge different rates to different nationalities as far as I know), they ask for country of residence. DVDs have regions marked on their disks so they can offer price discrimmination. I don’t like the hotel issue, but this happens all over the place. Michael__K Billing address and Passport country are required fields on Otel.com’s site when you book. So they had to know that the OP was a U.S. citizen and the booking went through anyway. Also, when I search for this particular hotel in Aruba, there are no visible disclosures that the rates shown are restricted by nationality or other group. tomjuno Different rates for different folks for essentially the same service is something that pisses me off mightily – especially when the higher rate applies to me. But it’s easily solved. If, during due diligence, I discover that the supplier isn’t being forthright with me, I simply move on the the next, more up-front supplier. The less forthcoming supplier goes on my blacklist – for life. Fang Lee well Chris if you are unhappy being charged a “3rd world” rate in a “3rd world foreign country” because you are a 1st world citizen, then I would suggest don’t go, stay in the US and enjoy your 1st world facilities. Dutchess Actually, Chris’ email is plastered all over this website. Why not email him directly instead of posting this to the forum comments? TonyA_says Daily AMERICAN breakfast ??? This must be for Americans :-) TonyA_says One of the main complaints of American customers using the different sites of Metglobal is that even if they book a Motel 6 (as an example) in their hometown, their credit card is billed from some overseas (i.e. Turkey) country. So they incur a foreign transaction fee. TonyA_says Even if it is a European (ie Turkish) company or site, it does not necessarily mean they are selling European only rates. People are assuming (or imagining) too many things here without proof. I agree with you. There is no evidence presented here that Otel dotcom intended to sell this package only to Europeans or Non-Americans. Bill___A I can understand that., They seem to now have a “pay at hotel” feature, maybe to combat this. I next to never use these types of sites. When I stay at a Marriott, I book on marriott.com. When I book a hilton, I book at hilton.com. I’ve booked a hotel on expedia once or twice, but didn’t really like that. Doesn’t count towards elite from what I could see. Michael__K Which side of the Bosphorous in Turkey? Are we sure they aren’t an Asian company? ;-) technomage1 I have noticed before that rooms in Europe were different rates for different nationalities. Since I lived there, most often I would book on the local country’s page. However, the US version of the sites would often offer different – and usually lower – rates, even when adjusted for currency differences. I’ve never had a hotel ask me for the higher rate, though, either prior to or during my stay. TexanPatriot1 Disturbing: 137 people actually think it’s a good idea for Americans to have to pay more for being Americans. Wonder if they’re members of the Administration? TonyA_says Harbiye Sisli, Istanbul is West so they are in the European continent. They also have an office in Manhattan and a call center in the Philippines. So that makes the a Yankee and a Pinoy, too. Miami510 I`m surprised… and not surprised. . Surprised at those that voted ^“yes.“ (Sheep waiting to be shorn) . Not surprised because the Chinese have been doing that for years. I remember meeting an American and his Chinese wife for dinner in Shanghai. I got there first and was given a menu. After he arrived (no only is he fluent in Chinese, lived there many years, and was a professor of a number of Chinese subjects at a university) he yelled at the waiter and asked for the menu for Chinese people. The prices were much lower. . He explained that the Chinese exhibit no shame what-so-ever in charging “Big noses“ (that`s us folks) more money for the same food. Miami510 Post Number 2: After reading the other post, I`m reminded that in Miami (a Spanish speaking and cultural city, Gringos are often charged more when items are `negotiated`than Spanish speakers. i.e. my wife, who is fluent in Spanish (went to the Univ. of Madrid) paid less when picking up a pair of shoes which had been repaired, than I was quoted when I dropped them off. He even apologized to her… he didn`t realize they were “her“ shoes. She is not a regular customer. y_p_w Having different prices happens all over the world. Some sellers charge varying prices although you’d also have to factor in some things such as the cost of business in the US (transportation, insurance, and product liability) etc. I remember an Italian coworker talking about getting a Ducati sold in the US, especially since the equivalent models cost considerably less here than in Europe. Some businesses get around this by “gray marketing” goods. I know of someone who bought a product that was brought in from Mexico through “unauthorized” channels. It was legal, although the original seller theoretically risked his license by knowingly selling to a gray marketer. TonyA_says The cost of American medicine is usually much cheaper overseas. Simone Some years ago I spent 3 weeks in Moscow with my husband while he was on a work assignment, so most of my days were spent alone while my husband was at his office. One day I went to a museum and the charge to get in was ridiculously high (maybe $25. I don’t exactly recall), and since I didn’t have too much time that day I passed on the visit. On another day, I was with a private guide I hired (a lovely semi-retired woman in her 60’s who spoke excellent english) and we went back to the museum. She told me that Russians feel Americans are all rich and it’s okay to charge us crazy rates, while the fee for Russians is about 25 cents! However, she said there was an unposted, verbal agreement to americans working in Russia. So instead of the $25. she got me in for about $8.00. Another time I asked our hotel concierge if he could get us ballet tickets and he told me the price would be $90. per tkt. Now I did expect him to increase the price for his service and charge me for it, and I was willing to pay for his service, I said no, and I”d get my own tickets. I went to the box office with a russian from my husband’s office who said he should buy them, not me, as he’ll get them at the russian price. He got us center seats, in about the 7th row for $2.25 per ticket. He said that the price for americans would probably be about $30. per tkt. So our hotel concierge was looking to make a profit of $175.50 for getting us the tickets. My guide also told me her rent was $60. a month for a small two bedroom apt, and the same apt for americans was over $3000. per month, and while the one for americans has a nicer bathroom and kitchen, it wasn’t THAT different. Sadly, the world views us all as multimillionaires, and apparently, fleecing us is their pride and source of revenue. Bill___A They should just charge $500 extra for anyone with a credit card that does not have a chip and pin feature! waldinho2000 Many hotels worldwide charge different rates depending on nationality to encourage tourists from certain nationalities to attend their hotels over others. It’s not a US-specific thing or anywhere else, although there tend to be trends in different parts of the world… in south east asia middle eastern clients are often charged more, for example. Almost certainly what happened here Otel were given a net “European Rate” for this hotel, and somehow a US client was offered it – perhaps due to their IP, where they saw the rate advertised, or maybe even Otel didn’t realise it was a European Rate until they themselves received confirmation from the hotel. They then would have informed the hotel the guest was in fact American not European and the hotel would have provided a different (net) rate. Probably, Otel should have swallowed this increase themselves and added information to this effect before the booking could be confirmed so it couldn’t happen again for this hotel. It sounds to me like they thought they’d try it on with the customer – very poor judgement on their part, but I would suggest the root cause of this is the hotel’s own policies and not the travel agent’s, who probably have quite a time having to deal with such cases without losing too much money. CaribbeanTraveller Yesterday I was checking prices in hotelopia (european site). It doesn’t have the “european passport holder issue”, but depending on the currency that you set, you can see some hotels or not. And the currency exchange was crazy, like 1 euro = 2 dolars. So, for exemple, you would pay, 200 dolar or 100 eur. Of course it’s better to book in euros. In the end, you would pay 130 usd instead of 200 usd. Maybe it’s a softer and better way to deal with this “nationality rate issue”. Or maybe it was just a system error.