Lodging Complaints

Sonja Haggert

PRESIDENT BIDEN’S State of the Union speech this month touched a nerve when he mentioned “junk fees.” Talking about hotel costs, he said, “Those fees can cost you up to $90 a night at hotels that aren’t even resorts.”

I was reminded of the first time we were hit with a resort fee. It was at a Marriott hotel in New York City. A bicycle was part of the “resort” package. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t see myself—as a tourist—riding a bicycle down Fifth Avenue.

To make matters worse, wi-fi was also a part of the fee. Really? That’s included in our hotel loyalty program, Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite Membership. So now we’re paying for something we get for free?

A newsletter from The Points Guy came to my rescue. It recently ran an article about Marriott’s fees and how they can be avoided. It’s right in the hotel’s terms and conditions, which can be found at the bottom of Marriott’s website. This is something we all check, right?

The internet access terms and conditions are in section 1.3. c.ii, which states, “Participating properties with mandatory resort charges, which include internet access, will provide a replacement benefit, to be determined at each participating property’s discretion.”

Translation: Marriott locations that participate in the loyalty program aren’t supposed to charge for something you’re entitled to get for free. They can waive the resort fee or offer you a freebie, such as a $25 daily credit for food and drink.

The article warned not to expect the hotel to roll over and play dead. It found some properties were very forthcoming and even comped the entire resort fee. Other properties acted like they were being nickeled and dimed. The best course of action is to contact Marriott Bonvoy by phone and make arrangements for the phone rep to coordinate with the property, so the issue can be handled before you arrive.

That brings me to another recent, irritating experience. Earlier this month, we wanted to change a hotel reservation. The reservation is for a two-week stay at the Hampton Inn, a part of the Hilton chain. We wanted to cancel the first two or three nights to stay with friends nearby. The cancellation was within corporate policy.

When I called, I was told that not only would I have to cancel the entire reservation, but also the room we’d chosen would then be unavailable upon rebooking, and we would be paying $150 more per night for a lesser room for the remaining time.

My husband suggested we cancel days from the end of our stay instead. It’s a good thing we checked the fine print on the reservation. It warned that if we planned to depart early, the price would be subject to change.

In my conversation with Hilton Hotels, I mentioned our disappointment with this cancellation policy. It’s been two weeks, and I assume Hilton doesn’t plan to respond. It would seem the hotel has adopted the playbook used by cable companies—ignore the customer.

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