Mandatory resort fees, as everyone knows by now, are completely evil. But do the avaricious hotels that charge them have a partner in crime? Yes, they do.
Online travel agencies are helping hotels get away with their misdeeds, say readers like Dennis Lovejoy. He recently booked a package through Travelocity that promised the price “includes items selected, including taxes and fees”. But it did not.
In an e-mail to Travelocity, he described his problem:
I believed my travel was paid in full. Then I noticed on my Travelocity statement that “incidental charges (parking, phone calls, room service or energy surcharges) will be handled directly between you and the hotel”.
I do not believe a “resort fee” that was forced on me is an incidental expense. If I had not been prepaid and needed a place to stay at the time, I may have got lodging elsewhere.
Thank you for writing to Travelocity.
We understand that you wish to have information on incidental charges.
Per your request we reviewed your reservation for your trip to LAS VEGAS, NV and see that you have been charged only the incidental fees please be informed that you agreed to hotel rules and policies while booking your reservation. You have been charged as per hotel policies and hotel had charged to your card and not Travelocity.
Please feel free to write to us for any further information that you may require. We appreciate the opportunity to serve your travel needs.
Travelocity Customer Service
To which Lovejoy answered:
You miss the point. I may have agreed to hotel rules and policies. Other than ordinary incidental fees as described on your Web page, I did not agree to a “resort fee” of over $20 a night that I knew nothing about.
Had I known this info, I would have probably stayed at another place. The fees for your contract hotels need to be clearly listed and published for the consumer to make an educated decision on choosing a hotel. I did not use any of the amenities for the resort fee. I was not interested in them, but told I had to pay them. It resulted in about a 25% increase in my stay at this hotel.
I am writing not because I require information, I am trying to give you some information to make you website and service better. It is a circuitous way for the hotel to make more money while using Travelocity to advertise their rates, have the consumer pay based on that information and then “ding” them with more fees after you have committed. It is kind of like a “bait and switch” scheme.
Technically, it is a bait-and-switch scheme.
Travelocity should be able to keep a full list of resort fees in its database. It already quotes a total price on rental cars. Those surcharges should be clearly disclosed at the time of booking — even when you’re buying a package.
To tell someone that the price of a vacation includes all taxes and fees and then to change the rules of the game is a bad business practice, too.
But not as bad as failing to listen to a customer. Marcus T sent a boilerplate response to Lovejoy that completely sidestepped the issue.
He deserves a better answer.
Update (4/3): And he got one. Sort of. Late yesterday, the hotel contacted Lovejoy, apologized for the misunderstanding, and refunded the resort fee.