Ray Richardson thought he found a deal when his Priceline bid on an Orlando hotel landed him a reservation at the Radisson. But then he got his bill.
It contained a surprise $6.95-a-day “resort fee” to cover the cost of the Radisson’s pool, exercise equipment and other amenities.
Can it do that?
A cursory look at Priceline’s terms suggests the answer is “no.” The online travel agency promises that the “total charges” for a room would “always be disclosed” before a reservation is made.
This is particularly important for its “name your own price” service, because customers don’t pick the exact hotel — only the class of hotel. If they knew there were a resort fee, then these price-sensitive customers could avoid the property.
But a closer look at Priceline’s terms reveals that the Radisson fee is allowed.
Depending on the city and property you stay in, you may also be charged resort fees or other incidental fees, such as parking charges. These charges, if applicable, will be payable by you to the hotel directly at checkout.
I’ve encountered this problem with Priceline before, and there’s no easy fix. Back in 2006, I worked on a case involving an “upgrade” on a bid hotel that ended up charging a resort fee. The customer disputed the charge on his credit card and won.
Richardson could have also protested the fee when he checked out. At a time like this, when hotels are bending backward to make guests happy, the resort might have reduced the fee.
He says he used none of the hotel’s facilities. That’s an argument that also might have worked.
“This would seem to me to be a deceptive practice to make Priceline users think they are paying less,” he told me.
I don’t know which is worse: Priceline, for failing to disclose a resort fee on a hotel someone bid on, or the Radisson, for charging a fee that should be part of the room rate.
Call it a draw?