Clearwater, FL – Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises vacation-bound consumers to ask questions about extra fees that could turn a bargain trip into a budget buster.
"Consumers should be aware of ‘resort fees’ for hotel services that may be charged whether you use these services or not," said Karen Nalven, President of BBB Serving West Florida. "These fees can range from those bottles of water on your dresser, internet access, use of gym facilities, newspapers to a safe in your room."
Extra fees ranging from $10 to $30 a day are seldom disclosed and often aren’t included in the checkout price on online travel booking sites. In many cases, consumers don’t learn about the fees until they check into or out of a resort.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says resort fees are part of a business model known as “drip pricing,” in which firms advertise only part of a product’s price and reveal other charges later as the customer goes through the buying process. The fees can be mandatory charges, such as hotel resort fees, or fees for optional upgrades and add-ons. Drip pricing is used by many types of firms, including Internet sellers, automobile dealers, financial institutions, and rental car companies.
Consumers have said that extra fees were never mentioned at all or appeared separate from the quoted reservation price on an online booking site. The FTC says other consumers “complained they did not know that they would be required to pay resort fees in addition to the quoted hotel room rate,” and only found out when they checked out of the hotel.
The FTC has sent a warning letter to 22 hotel operators, warning them that they may be engaging in deceptive advertising by not including mandatory resort fees when they quote a price. However, the federal agency has no authority to regulate hotels outside the United States.
BBB offers the following advice to avoid undisclosed hotel resort fees:
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