Warning: Watch Out For This Deceptively Worthless Fee Sneaking Onto Your Hotel Bill

I do not always have a chance to review my folio when checking out of a hotel property because I am pressed for time; so when I returned from a recent trip to review my receipts and folios, one total caught my attention, as it was slightly more expensive than I expected.

Warning: Watch Out For This Deceptively Worthless Fee Sneaking Onto Your Hotel Bill

One of the hotel properties at which I stayed recently was the Sleep Inn Beaver – Beckley hotel property in West Virginia, of which I have a review currently in the works. I was quoted an American Automobile Association rate of $62.10, with an estimated total of $69.55, which sounded good to me.

However, when I reviewed the receipt, I noticed that the total cost of my stay was $71.15 and wondered why the total cost of my stay increased…

Sleep Inn folio

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

…and there was the cutlet — er…I mean culprit — which is outlined in red in the photograph of the folio, which is shown above: a charge of $1.50 for what is identified as Safe w/ltd Warranty was added to the bill.

I immediately called the hotel property in question and asked the person who answered the telephone what exactly is the charge of $1.50 for Safe w/ltd Warranty.

“That is for the use of the safe in your room,” she replied.

“I never gave consent for adding that fee to my bill,” I said, “nor did I use the safe at all anytime during my stay.”

“Sir, that additional fee is clearly stated on what you signed when you checked in. You could have simply said that you do not wish to pay it.”

“That’s deceptive,” I bluntly replied, not recalling seeing any verbiage of that kind — not that it matters, because that is not something which is typically found on the agreement when checking into a hotel or resort property.

I was then put on hold while she checked a guest into the hotel property — at 12:40 in the afternoon.

While I was on hold, I checked the confirmation message which I received via e-mail message, which is shown below in its entirety with the exception of any personally sensitive information…

Sleep Inn folio

Click on the image for an enlarged view. Source: Choice Hotels.

…and although plenty of space was provided for advertising such items as renting a car, no indication was given anywhere within the confirmation message of any fee for use of a safe during my stay.

I even started going through the booking process of a mock reservation…

Sleep Inn Reservation

Source: Choice Hotels.

…and although a fee of $15.00 per night per pet was indicated under the section of Hotel Alerts, once again was there no sign of a fee for the privilege of using the safe.

I clicked on the question mark next to where the estimated taxes and fees are included on the potential reservation…

Sleep Inn Reservation

Click on the image for an enlarged view. Source: Choice Hotels.

…and the only information which was there was sales tax of 12 percent.

Even elsewhere in the potential reservation…

Sleep Inn Reservation

Click on the image for an enlarged view. Source: Choice Hotels.

…was there no indication of any charge for usage of a safe.

Summary

After being put on hold, she 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.

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

By the way, I have no idea about the details of the limited warranty. Perhaps the safe itself was under a limited warranty?

Sleep Inn Beaver - Beckley

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

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.

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.


 

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8 thoughts on “Warning: Watch Out For This Deceptively Worthless Fee Sneaking Onto Your Hotel Bill”

  1. Chris@Oak says:

    The Westin Frankfurt would automatically add a 1 Euro “donation” =fee, to my folio for a UN Children’s Fund. At checkout, I was always told it was optional. But they add this without my consent. The Westin Tokyo use to do this, then replaced the fee with a donation box in the lounge.
    Curious if others also had this fee.

  2. Michael says:

    Cool yeah I would refer this to the state attorney general. They typically have a consumer complaint hotline / contact form and may investigate.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      That is good advice, Michael — and similar advice which I offered pertaining to mandatory resort fees:

      https://thegate.boardingarea.com/one-simple-way-to-reclaim-that-resort-fee-which-you-paid/

  3. James Malenfant says:

    I worked at a large resort in Phoenix, Arizona. If I was checking you in, I’d tell you the fee, and what it’s for. I would also, automatically take it off your bill if you disputed it. It is a scam. There are free safe deposit boxes behind the front desk.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      …and those safe deposit boxes behind the front desk are substantially more secure than the safes in the room, James Malenfant.

      Thank you for your perspective on this issue.

  4. DaninMCI says:

    If they would just label it “beer money” and give it to the staff I’d pay it but a fake fee for profit is all too common. They know 99% of the customers won’t notice it. The mistake they make is not just removing it if caught.

  5. Stogieguy7 says:

    Yep, the “safe fee” is an oldie but goodie. Budget chains use this one in the same manner that resort and urban properties use the “destination” or “resort” fee. As an obscene profit-making venture. When I encounter this (which is especially common at Choice Hotels), I will complain to the agent at the front desk who inevitably waives the fee. Who uses the safe in a Sleep Inn, Super 8 or Comfort Inn anyway? Nor are they worthy of a fee. That’s like adding a fee for the television. Pure BS and there’s no justification for it other than it being a cash grab.

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