Bitten by a surprise $250 pet fee in my hotel room

It’s been a while since we looked at the pets-in-hotel-rooms controversy. But today I have a cautionary tale about taking your dog on vacation.

Jennifer Sapasap booked a room through Hotwire in Arlington, Texas, recently. Since Hotwire doesn’t reveal the name of your hotel until after you buy it, she didn’t know she’d end up at the Quality Inn. Nor was there any way of telling the property via her electronic reservation that she was bringing her dog. (Hotwire has a helpful section on flying with pets, but no such information about hotels.)
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In a listless economy, look out for hidden resort fees

Just when we thought the resort fee epidemic was under control, along comes a recession and ruins it for everyone.

Resort fees — those mandatory extra charges tacked on to your hotel bill to cover everything from beach towels to exercise facilities — are wrong on many levels. They’re nothing more than a sneaky way of raising your room rate. But until now, they’ve been in plain sight. Good hotels don’t charge them, but the bad hotels that do are up-front about them, at least.

Or were.

When Elvera Penner checked in to the Quality Inn & Suites Anaheim Resort, she had confirmed the rate carefully, like she always does. And then — bam!

We came up against this surprise $3.15 per day resort fee when we checked out. We asked to see the printout we had signed when we checked in — when they take your credit card imprint — and lo and behold, the resort fee was not included in that either! The manager grumbled mightily, but did remove the resort fee.

It may have been Penner’s case that prodded Quality Inn to clearly disclose the fee on its Web site. Either way, the surcharge is now highlighted in red, so it’s hard to miss.

Quality Inn should include all fees in the base price of its rooms. If it doesn’t, it needs to clearly disclose any required fees at the time of booking and when guests check in.

If a hotel doesn’t do any of these things, you should ask to have the charges removed. And what if it doesn’t? Talk to your credit card company.

As the economy staggers along, expect more hotels to try to slap a resort fee on your bill. When they do, put up a good fight. It keeps the whole lodging industry honest.

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