Junk Fees Expanding to City Hotels: Case Le Parker Meridien New York

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I cannot stand resort fees that some hotels try to bury you with. I wrote a piece about “Resort fees and why you should hate them” back in August this year. Now, some hotels are trying to introduce resorts fees under disguised “facility/service charges” in some city hotels as well.

Here’s the list from my previous article that does apply for these same scam fees on city center hotels as well:

Here are eight reasons why hotels love “scamming” using resort charges:

1. Able to advertise a lower headline price and bury the extra charge to tax section.

2. Preferential display when searched using the price on hotel search engines.

3. Save on some taxes on municipalities that don’t collect taxes on “resort” charges.

4. Collect resort charge on award stays.

5. Collect resort charge on third party bookings i.e. Expedia, Hotwire, Booking.com, Priceline etc.

6. No need to pay for travel agent commission for amount of the resort fee.

7. No need to award points for the frequent guest program for the resort fee portion.

8. No need to pay franchise fees for the resort charge portion.

Le Parker Meridien New York

Le Parker Meridien has now introduced a mandatory “service charge” starting on January 1, 2013. This charge includes the following items:

  • Wired or Wireless High Speed Internet Access for multi-devices in guestrooms, the lobby, restaurants and the bar. *
  • Unlimited use of gravity fitness Center.
  • Unlimited use of the penthouse pool.
  • Unlimited toll free and local calls from your in room phone.

I absolutely despise how this charge is buried and basically hidden when searching for Starwood hotels in New York on SPG.com.

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You are just presented the prices of rooms.

le-parker-meridien-price-display

When you click the total price that includes all the taxes and fees this “service charge” is not displayed at all.

le-parker-meridien-price-search

You can only find it by clicking the “special conditions” link on the web page. How many click the special conditions link for a hotel that you are looking or booking at? At least, I never do that.

le-parker-meridien-special-conditions

Some of these “benefits” make sense like the complimentary internet access and the use of fitness center. The problem that I have, however, is the fact that wireless/wired internet access is a Platinum benefit in the first place. If you have hotel or sometimes managed fitness center, I have never needed to pay for the access.

How many uses hotel phone to make local or toll free phone calls? I doubt that anyone does. We all carry phones nowadays and use them instead of relying to hotel phones. I cannot remember the last time I had used a hotel phone for anything else than calling the front desk.

Conclusion

If a hotel has a mandatory charge, they should simply include it to their baseline price and be done with it. Having separate mandatory fees is simply put highly misleading especially how these are not properly disclosed.

Airlines have already mandated to display all inclusive pricing in the European Union and in the United States. If hotels are continuing trying to mislead consumers, I am sure that we will see some litigation.

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