National Consumers League

Hotel guests beware unauthorized charges


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By Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director On two occasions over the past two weeks, when I or friends of mine have stayed at hotels, we’ve noticed charges racked up on the bill for goods or services we didn’t use. In my friend’s, case the hotel added an undeserved $300; in mine it was a more modest $30. I was charged for eating items from the minibar – I didn’t! In fact, I never do since they are scandalously overpriced. How did I get charged for soft drinks or chips when I didn’t touch them? And the bill comes slipped under your door in the early morning – automatic checkout – so if you don’t scrutinize it carefully, you could end up paying for things you didn’t use. I am suspicious that this practice isn’t simply an innocent mistake by hotel staff. I suspect that hotels pile charges on in hopes that the traveler will simply fold the bill in her pocketbook and never notice the overages. My friend’s bill was really outrageous: she had to get the hotel to take off all kinds of unauthorized charges. She told me she couldn’t for the life of her figure out how they got there. All of which means “caveat emptor”. Consumers, be sure to look carefully over your hotel bill before you check out. And I wish some consumer protection agency would launch an investigation about hotel billing practices. I could be paranoid, but it seems to me this happens too frequently for it to be totally accidental.