What should I do about this hid­den ho­tel fee?

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - TRAVEL - By Christo­pher El­liott

Q

A: I’m sorry to hear about this hid­den ho­tel fee. Hotwire, the on­line travel site you used to book your room, should have charged you just $727 for your week­end in New York. Not a penny more.

When you book on Hotwire, the site doesn’t in­clude manda­tory re­sort fees in the price of your room. It only adds the ex­tra charge at the end, when you’re pay­ing. That gives you a false im­pres­sion that your room is cheaper.

Re­sort fees, which sup­pos­edly cover the cost of a ho­tel gym, pool or “free” Wi-Fi, are a rip-off. No one should be forced to pay for ser­vices they don’t use.

At first, I thought the In­ter­Con­ti­nen­tal New

Q I have a ques­tion about a hid­den ho­tel fee. I booked two rooms at the In­ter­Con­ti­nen­tal New York Bar­clay through Hotwire re­cently. I paid $727 for the rooms with the un­der­stand­ing that I would have to pay another $136 in re­sort fees, which I did.

How­ever, I also no­ticed the ho­tel charged me $307 in ad­di­tion to the re­sort fees. When I con­tacted the ho­tel af­ter I re­turned home, a ho­tel rep­re­sen­ta­tive told me I needed to take this up with Hotwire.

I called cus­tomer sup­port for Hotwire. A rep­re­sen­ta­tive told me to sub­mit the ho­tel re­ceipt show­ing the ex­tra charge along with my bank state­ment. I sent both.

Hotwire promised it would re­solve the is­sue within five days. It’s been more than eight days. I have called Hotwire about my claim and they said I am not able to speak to any­one in the de­part­ment that han­dles re­funds.

This amount of money is sig­nif­i­cant. My wife and I live pay­check to pay­check, and I feel like no­body wants to help me. Can you help me get a re­fund?

York Bar­clay had charged you even more for your re­sort fees. But a closer look at your bill sug­gests that’s prob­a­bly not the case. A rep­re­sen­ta­tive told you that it was a prob­lem with Hotwire’s billing sys­tem. Specif­i­cally, it was an is­sue with the “Hotwire credit card.” That’s an odd thing to say since on­line travel agen­cies typ­i­cally don’t use credit cards to pay ho­tels.

You tried to con­tact the ho­tel by phone. Each time, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive gave you a dif­fer­ent ex­pla­na­tion for the $307 charge. A re­view of your records sug­gests this was just a sim­ple ac­count­ing er­ror, not a hid­den ho­tel fee.

I rec­om­mend stick­ing to email when you’re cor­re­spond­ing with a ho­tel about a prob­lem like this. If the prop­erty doesn’t re­spond, then try es­ca­lat­ing to the cor­po­rate level. I list the names, num­bers and email ad­dresses of the top In­ter­Con­ti­nen­tal ex­ec­u­tives on my con­sumer ad­vo­cacy site.

I con­tacted the ho­tel on your be­half, and it cred­ited your ac­count with the

$307.

Christo­pher El­liott is the om­buds­man for Na­tional Ge­o­graphic Trav­eler mag­a­zine and the au­thor of “How to Be the World’s Smartest Trav­eler.” You can read more travel tips on his blog, el­liott.org, or email him at [email protected]­liott.org.

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