Why isn’t this Hotwire re­sort fee dis­closed?

Orlando Sentinel (Sunday) - - TRAVEL & ARTS - By Christo­pher El­liott King Fea­tures — Thomas Stack, East Syra­cuse, N.Y. 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,

Qmanda­tory ex­tras charged to your fo­lio, of­ten af­ter you’ve agreed on a rate. Ho­tels charge re­sort fees to make their prices look lower than they are. Re­sort fees are un­fair and de­cep­tive, and should be il­le­gal. You were do­ing ev­ery­thing you could to avoid a Hotwire re­sort fee and still failed. That’s be­cause Hotwire didn’t dis­close the fee.

One of my re­searchers called Hotwire three sep­a­rate times to see if that was a fluke, if maybe you’d mis­un­der­stood. And all three times, Hotwire still didn’t dis­close the manda­tory $35 per night re­sort fee. I list the names, numbers and email ad­dresses of Hotwire’s cus­tomer-ser­vice ex­ec­u­tives on my non­profit con­sumer-ad­vo­cacy site: www.el­liott.org/ com­pany-con­tacts |

Last week, I booked one of Hotwire’s blind-book­ing “hot rate” ho­tel deals in New York.

Many of the hot rate deals I was look­ing at fully dis­closed the ho­tel’s re­sort fee with­out re­veal­ing the ho­tel’s name. I chose one that did not make such a dis­clo­sure. I re­ceived a room at the In­ter­Con­ti­nen­tal New York Bar­clay.

The day af­ter I made my reser­va­tion, I called Hotwire cus­tomer sup­port to in­quire about the type of room I was get­ting. I also wanted to con­firm that there was no re­sort fee. How­ever, the cus­tomer-ser­vice agent in­formed me that I would, in fact, have to pay a $35 re­sort fee for the night.

I ex­plained that I did not know, or have rea­son to know, of this re­sort fee at the time of book­ing. She re­ferred me to Hotwire’s terms and con­di­tions, which say that Hotwire rates do not in­clude spe­cial fees charged by ho­tels upon check­out, such as en­ergy charges, con­ven­tion fees, re­sort fees and park­ing fees. Cus­tomers are re­quired to pay these fees di­rectly to the ho­tels at check­out time.

I un­der­stand the terms, but they do not state how or when these fees are dis­closed, nor do they give me a rea­son to know that I could po­ten­tially be li­able for manda­tory, undis­closed re­sort fees. I am ap­palled by the way Hotwire has han­dled this sit­u­a­tion.

I have spent hours on the phone with the com­pany over the past week. I’ve prob­a­bly talked to nearly a dozen cus­tomer-ser­vice agents. I was even hung up on by a su­per­vi­sor af­ter po­litely re­fus­ing to take “no” for an an­swer.

All I wanted was for Hotwire to sub­tract $35 from my bill. Can you help me with this Hotwire re­sort fee? /hotwire/. (Ex­pe­dia owns Hotwire.)

I con­tacted Hotwire on your be­half. Separately, you also reached out to Hotwire. “Mr. Stack in­di­cated that the ho­tel in­formed Ex­pe­dia of the new re­sort fee on June 4,” a rep­re­sen­ta­tive con­firmed. “Un­for­tu­nately, due to a tech­ni­cal glitch that we are in­ves­ti­gat­ing, the fee did not flow to our sys­tems un­til July 2. Be­cause Mr. Stack booked on July 27, we have de­cided to re­im­burse him for the full cost of the re­sort fee.”

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