Comfort Suite's Shady "Energy Surcharge" Costs You $144

Reader ds143 wrote in with a reminder to ask hotels about added fees before reserving a room. He booked a six-night stay at the Comfort Suites in the Bahamas for his family of four without realizing that the hotel levied a $6 per person, per night “energy surcharge.” The financial sucker punch set ds143 back $144.

I know you already did a piece on strange hotel charges a little while ago, but I was in the Bahamas at the Comfort Suites in Atlantis and I thought this was so misleading I took a picture of it.

I just think it’s outrageous-if it wasn’t bad for the Earth, I might as well be leaving on all my lights when I leave the room, just to get my money’s worth! I was with a family of 4, and we booked the hotel because it was cheap. However, they did not include this 24 dollar a night tax! We stayed for 6 nights-they jipped us of $144!

Hidden fees usually have little to do with actual consumption. If you spot them on your bill, it is worth speaking with the manager and asking to have them removed.

PREVIOUSLY: Watch Out For These 14 Hidden Hotel Fees
10 Annoying Hidden Hotel Fees

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  1. homerjay says:

    It might be worth calling down to the front desk (or better yet, emailing) before you book to see what additional charges there will be and then getting the name of the person who quotes them to you in case there are any extras. Then you’ll at least have some ammo when talking to the manager or in the worst case, filing a chargeback (the consumers best friend).

  2. Falconfire says:

    6 bucks per a person? Leaving your lights on wouldnt have compensated…

    At 24 bucks a night thats HALF my monthly power bill…

  3. Hawk07 says:

    I’m pretty sure it costs roughly the same to heat/cool a room with one or four people in it.

  4. vividblurry says:

    Many resorts charge an “energy surcharge” that covers energy used not only in your room but across the entire resort. Ridiculous, I know – but it is a fairly common practice!

  5. tedyc03 says:

    What sucks is that this is in the Bahamas, not the States. Here he might be able to fight it more effectively. Though this isn’t necessarily a hidden fee (albeit it’s hidden from him until he gets there) because it’s posted in the lobby.

  6. evslin says:

    24 bucks is my power bill for an entire month with the air conditioning off. What a rip.

  7. bossco says:

    Back a few years ago in California, energy rates jumped rapidly. I remember a lot of hotels, including Marriott imposed an energy surcharge of a buck or two per night. People got so pissed that most hotels dropped it after a few months. They probably just raised the rates a few bucks instead.

  8. weave says:

    By the looks of that 6 on that sign, looks like the number was changed at some point too.

  9. Justinh6 says:

    I recommend that everyone looks up a hotel on http://www.tripadvisor.com before they consider booking it.

    People will tell the dirt on every hotel, and you will know what you are getting yourself into.

  10. edrebber says:

    Dispute the charge with your credit card company. Let the credit card company know that the fee was not disclosed up front when you booked the room and you only discovered the charge after you arrived. The hotel is extorting the money, because the customer would have to spend part of their vacation trying to find a different hotel.

  11. Benny Gesserit says:

    I’ve stayed in resorts both in the D.R. and, well, it starts with a “C”, ends with an “A” and they’re famous for their cigars. In both countries the resorts used their own diesel power generators to supply power (as the local power system is spotty and, let’s face it, North American tourists aren’t happy unless it’s 95deg on the beach and -2 in their room.)

    I’m betting this Bahamian resort is trying to recoup some of the lost revenue from the rising cost of diesel eating into their low-low rates that got you into the room.

    That said, it’s no excuse for throwing up a sign and adding costs to the bill. Seems a little cowardly.

  12. photomikey says:

    @Jim (The Canuck One):
    ZOMG… Cuba? You’re so cool. I bet you’re not one of those “Americans” who likes it 95 on the beach and “-2″ in the room.

  13. darkened says:

    I agree dispute with your credit card company and it will be deducted for you.

  14. cmh77 says:

    Gotta love the Bahamas. I’m not surprised about this. They already add gratuities to ANY bill at a restaurant even though they provide less than desireable service and dissapointing meals. I’m pretty sure they don’t power most hotels with generators down there either, so there’s really no excuse for the charge. Maybe it should be added to the nightly rate if they need it that bad.

  15. I feel for the guy, as it’s not the kind of fee that some research wouldn’t have revealed beforehand (tripadvisor.com: second the nomination: although a quick review finds the place well recommended with some real horror stories, but the 6th/90+ hotels on that Island in the Bahamas).

    But, and dismiss this as being overly sensitive to other people, consider this language:
    “We stayed for 6 nights-they jipped us of $144!”
    Versus this:
    We stayed for 6 nights – They took us for $144!”
    or
    “They cheated us to the tune of $144!”

    gypped (correct spelling) is like saying
    “They jewed us out of $144!”
    People say that (I live in Missouri at the moment, I have no illusions about this kind of thing), but it’s the opposite of classy.

  16. Oh, and go to less tourist trappy places.

    Oh wait, OP said he has two kids…

    Please, the only islands in the Caribbean are: The Bahamas and Jamaica. That’s it.

  17. zarex42 says:

    If they didn’t close this fee in advance, this would be very easy to dispute with your credit card company. First ask for a refund from the hotel, then if they refuse, get your cc company involved. They’ll almost certainly force the refund.

  18. GearheadGeek says:

    @Hawk07: Actually that is not the case. It costs LESS to heat a room (assuming a cold climate, not the Bahamas) with 4 people in it, but more to cool it. The heat and humidity our bodies create factor into the amount of air conditioning required to manage a space.

    That said, $6/room/night (rather than per person) should be more than enough to compensate the hotel for the entire family, that averages out to $182.50/month, which is almost my max monthly bill in the summer, cooling a 1400 sq. ft. house in a hot/humid climate, with evil deregulated screw-the-customers electricity.

  19. aishel says:

    What’s a 6 o’clock dollar anyway?

  20. ju_ju_eyeball says:

    It is not the fact that they charge the fee. It is that they hide the fee until you get there and use their services. All these fees should be placed into the actual price they charge for a room so consumers can ACCURATELY shop for a room with a good price. Telling the customer that they will pay 99.00 a night for a room and then tack on a 6.00 a night occupancy tax, 6.00 a night state sales tax, and a 6.00 a night energy tax is false advertising. Also, anybody realize that all these taxes you pay out of state are taxation without representation?

  21. Rando says:

    Kinda funny seeing as one person in a hotel room probably won’t use more than $2.00 worth of energy.

  22. Snarkysnake says:

    I just went to Freeport in December and stayed in a timeshare resort that I traded for my home resort through RCI. They did own up to an “energy surcharge” when you book,but it’s not disclosed until you’re ready to leave. (BTW ,I went by myself and the staff tried every artifice thay could think of to get me to admit that I would be having “guests” in my room,whether I needed extra towels etc…A disgruntled employee told me that they use that info to charge extra energy to the room).This fee is a pure ripoff and a deal breaker for any future trips to the Bahamas.Yeah, electricity is expensive there (over $.17 per KWH according to Grand Bahama Power Co), but that is ridiculous.I’m not much on boycotting,but our friends in the Bahamas won’t see me again until this changes.Electricity is a fucking cost of doing business and if they can’t be honest about pricing their product,well…Its a big world out there.

  23. elijah_dukes_mayonnaise says:

    @aishel: One that’s only right twice a day.

  24. kenblakely says:

    @PotKettleBlack: Oh, shut up.

  25. kenblakely says:

    @Jim (The Canuck One): Recoup some of their costs my butt. It’s just a way to get a bit more money from the tourists, who almost by definition have money to spare. Dispute it with the CC company.

  26. barfoo says:

    @ju_ju_eyeball: Yes, they are taxation without representation. So are sales tax paid by children, tax paid by corporations, and any taxes paid by non-citizens (immigrants or tourists) and to some extent by residents of DC, Puerto Rico, the Guam, and other US colonies. Your point?

  27. forgottenpassword says:

    @PotKettleBlack:

    Oh lordy! I live in missouri too & grew up saying “gypped” …. it isnt meant as some slur towards gypsies anymore. The origins are hardly relevant. Similar to the “eeny meeny miney mo” rhyme that sometimes offend black people who actually know what it once possibly meant.

    And its in reference to gypsies who had a reputation for swindling locals & then moving on. It still happens today with the “travellers”.

    Note: never heard the expression “jewed” actually used here in missouri. But from what I gather… it is meant as someone negotiating a sweetheart deal , not neccessarily cheating someone.

  28. lemur says:

    @ju_ju_eyeball: “It is that they hide the fee until you get there and use their services.”

    That’s precisely the problem. It seem that that practice is growing. Hotels are doing it, airlines are doing it, rental car companies are doing it, telecom companies are doing it. They advertise a reasonable or incredibly low price and then they tack on surcharges after the fact. It certainly should be considered to be deceptive advertising.

  29. Anonymous says:

    A couple of articles in this same vein have mentioned bringing up hidden charges with management. I’m curious how one would go about doing it.

    Do you simply call a manager over and say, “These fees were not disclosed up front; remove them or I will have my CC company issue a chargeback”?

  30. mgy says:

    Just curious, what is everyone’s luck with filing chargebacks against charges levied in another country? I have to imagine it’s a logistical nightmare trying to verify the charges for the CC companies.

  31. I encountered this on a recent trip also. What really irked me was that the cleaning staff would turn off the AC whenever they came in. They also had a sign posted to please turn off lights, AC, and the TV. I’m all for energy conservation but if I’m paying for it upfront let me use it.

  32. Imperial Palace. Las Vegas. $2 per person, per night charge to turn to phone on.

    Yes, even if you never use it, you have to pay the surcharge. And no, you can’t keep the phone turned off. The phone must be activated when it is occupied so the hotel staff can reach you in case of an emergency. Like when your credit card is declined because you are being charged an extra 2 bucks a night.

  33. gingerCE says:

    I was at a hotel recently and there were a lot of advertisements in the room on energy conservation–take shorter showers, turn off lights, etc . . . it also had signs posting as part of their environmental effort they were only changing the sheets and towels every other day of your stay unless you request daily service. I actually didn’t mind too much cause I like to conserve energy but it’s interesting to see promoting green by hotels feeling sorta like they are trying to be as cheap as possible.

  34. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @forgottenpassword: Point being, there are other words and phrases that don’t stem from a history of discrimination against an ethnic minority, so it’s probably better to use those instead. It’s true that most people don’t know the origin of “gypped,” and have no intention of being racist when they use it, but that doesn’t mean it’s become inoffensive to people of Roma ancestry.

    It’s not a big deal, I think, it’s just a good idea.

  35. drizzleray says:

    I’m actually going to this exact hotel next week, the fee is displayed on the hotel’s website, although it is not calculated into your total cost when you book the room.

  36. GearheadGeek says:

    @barfoo: If you believe that US corporations suffer from lack of representation in government, you’re not paying attention. Granted, they’re PAYING for that representation, but they get it just the same. As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for” and overall, especially in the current administration, they’re getting better representation than what citizens get for free.

  37. RIP MRHANDS says:

    @CumaeanSibyl: Wake me up when that sensitivity and outrage extends to working class White Americans who get tired of being called rednecks and white trash.

  38. shufflemoomin says:

    How do 2,3 or 4 people in a hotel room use more energy than one? It should be per room if they want it, not per person. I’d ask for 4 TVs, some extra lamps and 4 hairdryers if I was asked to pay this crap. You should just pay for the room and get all expected amenities in the room for that price, same as it used to be. Next you’ll be surcharged for everything: Carpet wear surcharge, water surcharge, air surcharge, looking-out-the-window surcharge, door lock maintenance surcharge, just being there surcharge…

  39. Joedragon says:

    What next in room PVP movies will bill you per person.

  40. GearheadGeek says:

    @Joedragon: Nah… the people who buy the really expensive in-room movies are alone in the room anyway. ;)

  41. TexasBelle says:

    Comfort Suites is a shady operation. I booked a small block of rooms for my employer with them, paid a large advance deposit, and then was told that when our meeting dates changed through no fault of our own, that we would forfeit the entire deposit if we didn’t rebook with them and pay even more money. So not only did they take a large amount of money for nothing, they held the remainder of our money hostage so we were forced to rebook with them. We got the last laugh, though, kind of: our meeting was canceled altogether (again, basically an act of god), but we didn’t cancel our reservation, since it was nonrefundable. I informed the hotel manager that we would still be using the rooms, but no one would be in them except for certain times. The manager was very unhappy with that, but she knew better than to even suggest we cancel, because my response would have been, “okay, then pony up our $[5 figures]!” Then we gave the rooms away to anyone who wanted one.

  42. @shufflemoomin:”Next you’ll be surcharged for everything: Carpet wear surcharge, water surcharge, air surcharge, looking-out-the-window surcharge, door lock maintenance surcharge, just being there surcharge…”

    don’t feed the fire.

    surcharge surcharge =/

  43. humphrmi says:

    @ceejeemcbeegee: Thanks for the tip. I love the IP’s gaming rooms, and I was thinking about staying there on an upcoming trip. At least I can factor the surcharge into my comparisons now.

    @Jim (The Canuck One): Are you actually a Canuck? I thought they didn’t have the same restrictions on travel and commerce with Cuba. I thought that stupidity was limited to one country.

  44. Hawk07 says:

    @GearheadGeek:

    Well of course. It would cost LESS to cool a room for one versus five, but the cost is so insignificant that it’s a moot point.

    It’s like a 747 flying from NYC to LA. Whether it has 300 people or 320 people on-board, it costs roughly the same. Sure, 20 extra people and luggage will likely use up a little more fuel, it’s minuscule in the grand scheme of things which is why I mentioned it costs roughly the same amount to cool a room with one or five people in it.

  45. @Hawk07:

    on the same note, I’d HATE to the be the person to determine the difference regarding the required amount of fuel versus the “calculated amount of fuel” required to ensure a safe trip.

    Mind you, I have just watched Die Hard II (yeah, the airport one)

  46. @humphrmi: ugh… I HATED that hotel for several reasons. I had no clue the gaming rooms were decent (I don’t gamble) because the rest of the place is low-budget. I think it’s what DeNiro’s character had in mind when he talked about the decline of Vegas.

    But it’s a good cheap alternative. Save the phone fee.

  47. bdgbill says:

    @vividblurry:

    Sorry but “Comfort Suites” is not a resort, In the Bahamas or anywhere else.

  48. jeffjohnvol says:

    That is truly deceptive. They probably pay a lot more for electricity there being on an island since they don’t have access to cheap coal or nuclear, but still, they should raise their rates to compensate, not a surcharge.

  49. jeffjohnvol says:

    I wonder if this hotel chain is owned by a cell phone company. They love to do this kind of surcharge crap.

  50. Ragman says:

    My university slapped a $120/semester fee for utilities onto the tuition bills last year.

  51. WV.Hillbilly says:

    I think this guy should stop being so niggardly about being gypped.

  52. Nighthawke says:

    The Jamaicans might as well fuel their generators with the crap they call rum they make. Most of that stuff will make you go blind you know….

  53. flowerofhighrank says:

    what amazed me yesterday was a Vermont hotel automatically adding on a 15 percent gratuity on the whole room charge. I wrote them and asked how these ‘gratuities’ were distributed to the employees and if they were paid at the special below minimum wage rate for waiters and waitresses.

  54. melmoitzen says:

    @ju_ju_eyeball: I don’t have a problem with REAL taxes, even if they’re not specified. Hotel A has to charge them as does Hotel B and Hotel C, and they all have to turn the money over to the government. If you do your research, you’ll find out what these taxes are and readily figure out if they’ve been included or not so you can compare apples to apples, and there shouldn’t be any surprises.

    But an unannounced, surprise “energy surcharge” or “resort fee” is a different matter, since it’s nothing more than something that should be reflected in the basic rate, i.e. that money stays in the hotel’s pockets as additional profit.

    Besides making suckers out of travelers, another reason why these surcharges are not simply built into the rate is that they would be commissionable to travel agents if they were. Sleazy practice on many levels.

  55. Sian says:

    @Falconfire: Your power bill is $1400 a month? What do you do, run a 5000 watt home theater system 24/7? power a ballpark? grow pot?

  56. @flowerofhighrank: I think they feel they have to, judging by the scores of folks I know who express indignation at the thought of tipping their housekeeper.

  57. Sian says:

    @Sian: My bad. it’s early and my reading comprehension is suck before noon.

  58. unklegwar says:

    since when is the colon (:) the accepted monetary symbol for the decimal point? Are they charging six dollarhours? six dollarminutes? what is that?

  59. Benny Gesserit says:

    @humphrmi: Oh, I’m a Canuck but I’ve been severely lectured about it in the past. (Still a little gun-shy.)

    @kenblakely: Now that the cold meds have worn off, you’re probably right. The Bahamas have a rep locally as being “make a buck” central. Come to think, the Cuban hotel I was at kept energy use down by turning off the electrics when you left the room. (Your room key had to be in a slot just inside the door for the power to work.)

  60. DeafLEGO says:

    For $6, I bet some are going to leave the hot water running all day and night to be sure they get their money’s worth.

  61. I don’t understand why the 6$ isn’t just in the price of the room. It’s like Ticketmaster. Just tell me the price of the ticket TOTAL, don’t keep adding little charges the further I go in the ordering process. Little charges like this piss me off because it’s like they scammed you on the initial price that made you choose the hotel, and then later added other amounts back in.