Wait: Hotel Charges Use of Safe Plus Tax — But Not Responsible For Valuables?!?

You might have noticed that the math did not quite add up when you read this article which I wrote pertaining to being charged $1.50 for use of a safe — with limited warranty — in addition to my room rate and tax when I stayed at the Sleep Inn Beaver – Beckley hotel property in West Virginia.

Wait: Hotel Charges Use of Safe Plus Tax — But Not Responsible For Valuables?!??

The initial estimated total for the room when I reserved it was $69.55…

Sleep Inn folio

Click on the image for an enlarged view. Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

…but when I checked out of the hotel property, the total cost for the room was $71.15.

The difference of $1.60 is due to the sales tax of nine cents which was added to the bill. I suppose it was rounded up to ten cents…

Sleep Inn folio

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

…but when I received the revised folio for my stay, I was refunded a total of $1.59 instead of $1.60 for the fee plus tax.

If the hotel property really needs that penny, they can keep it.

However, what I found as an ironic twist is that I was being charged for the use of a safe “with limited warranty” — whatever that means…

Sleep Inn folio

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

…but look at the bottom left corner of the folio, which states in capital letters “NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR VALUABLES” above where the guest is to sign in agreement.

Huh?!?

So Who Cares About $1.60, Anyway?

A guest may see the folio upon checking out and say, “That charge is only $1.60 more. That is nothing. Who cares? I’ll just let it go.”

Let us say that this hotel property has an average occupancy rate of 50 rooms per night. At $1.50 per room per night for the fee of usage of the safe, that totals $75.00 per night of extra income for the hotel property, which becomes $27,375.00 for the year.

That is a sizeable chunk of extra change for the hotel property — even if it is reduced to $10,000.00 per year due to fewer guests or refusal to pay the fee from more than half of the guests.

Meanwhile, the extra share for the government of roughly ten cents per room per night for the fee is as much as $1,642.50 in taxes per year, which is not bad at all.

Summary

So wait a minute: I was being charged for the use of a safe “with limited warranty” — whatever that means — which I did not use at all; but the hotel property is not responsible for valuables? Is protecting valuables the sole purpose of a safe? Am I missing something here?!?

Also, keep in mind that a safe in a hotel room is not the most secure place to store your valuables.

To be charged sales tax on top of this deceptive and worthless fee is adding insult to injury. Perhaps one of the reasons why governments are not quick to resolve deceptive fees — such as mandatory resort fees as one of many examples — is because they do not want to lose their piece of the money pie.

When I called via telephone, the agent at the hotel property eventually agreed to remove the charge from the folio — and although I was appreciative that the charge was easily removed, I should not have had to take the time and effort to call the hotel property in the first place to resolve this issue in my favor.

Worse, nowhere in the booking process was there any indication that guests would be charged a fee of $1.50 for use of the safe — whether or not you actually do use it — and my confirmation via e-mail message of my reservation has the total estimated charges at $1.50 less than my final bill; and nowhere in that e-mail message was the possibility that I would be charged that fee.

Even though guests can decline on paying that fee for the safe at any time during the stay, the agent behind the front desk still should have verbally disclosed it during the process of checking in a guest. Despite the option of the guest to be able to remove the charge from the folio, I maintain that sneaking a fee onto a bill is deceptive at best.

With the advent of mandatory resort fees and fees such as this one for use of a safe, the lodging industry is either greedy, desperate for money — or both, as there have been so many things which are wrong with this one single experience.

Mandatory resort fees are required to be disclosed at some point in the reservation booking process. This fee for usage of a safe was not disclosed at all until the guest physically arrives at the hotel property — and ideally should be required to be disclosed at some point during the reservation booking process even though it is not technically considered mandatory.

Although this fee for usage of a safe is not exactly a mandatory fee, that I vehemently oppose the implementation of mandatory resort fees, facilities fees and destination fees is no secret to you if you have been a reader of The Gate for years — they should either be optional or eliminated altogether — and I will just let this extensive body of work over the years pertaining to mandatory resort fees speak for me…

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.


 

2 thoughts on “Wait: Hotel Charges Use of Safe Plus Tax — But Not Responsible For Valuables?!?”

  1. colleen says:

    Benjamin Franklin: “A safe, if you can keep it”

  2. gizmosdad says:

    I agree with your point of view — and this is an instance where I would leverage social media & today’s connected world. For example, I would let the front desk know (so that they could pass the info along to senior management) that their hidden fee(s) would be mentioned in my online review of their hotel. And that I would leave a review on multiple web-sites, to increase the visibility of these fees. If the hotel has chosen a path to try to hide the fees, I would feel obligated to warn others of the fees.
    I don’t care whether or not they charge me $1.60; but I do care that management thinks they can sneak in extra fees without my consent (especially ridiculous fees such as this one) I am loyal to vendors that treat their customers with respect, and obviously this vendor does not value respect…
    BTW, thanks for the heads-up on this topic; i’ll be reviewing my check-in documentation with more suspicion in the future…

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