Bargain-priced vacations are not always what they appear to be. For example, the price shown may look appealing, although there are often additional fees and hidden details. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises consumers to investigate and compare vacation plans, and to ask questions about extra fees that could significantly impact your vacation budget.
Resorts may have fees that go unmentioned until check out time. These fees may be included in your bill for a variety of amenities including internet access, gym usage and access to the safe or refrigerator. These increased costs can surprise consumers if they haven’t read the terms and conditions of a vacation package.
“Travel arrangements require a significant amount of time,” said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “It is vital that consumers take their time reading through fine print and make sure to ask questions.”
Fees for various amenities can range from $10 to $30 per day and are not always included in the checkout price on online booking sites. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) describes resort fees as being a part of “drip pricing”, a business model in which firms advertise only part of a price and reveal other charges later in the billing process. Drip pricing is not exclusive to the travel industry. It is also common among financial institutions and rental car companies.
The BBB offers some advice for consumers to avoid undisclosed fees:
The BBB is a non-profit, non-governmental organization. It is supported by businesses to protect consumers against scams and other unethical business practices. The group accomplishes this by educating both consumers and businesses, and by highlighting trustworthy businesses. By developing reports and ratings on businesses and charitable organizations, the BBB encourages people to use these as resources and referrals to utilize the free services before making a purchase or donation. The BBB helps resolve buyer/seller complaints through its alternative dispute resolution process. In 2013, the BBB provided more than 22,600,000 instances of service. Over 80 percent of consumer complaints to the BBB were resolved. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois is a member of the international BBB system that services the United States, Canada and Mexico.