Look Out For Hidden Resort Fees When Booking Rooms

Kevin is annoyed that Priceline’s “Name Your Price” feature fails to take resort fees into account. In his case, such extra charges tacked on $19 a night to the $45 he agreed to pay for his room.

He writes:

Just this last weekend I booked a room through Priceline’s “Name Your Price” service. I was looking for a decent place stay at a decent price. I bid $45/night for a 4 star hotel, and was booked at the Scottsdale Resort and Conference Center. Upon arrival I was notified that I would have to pay an additional $19 per day for services such as Internet, a newspaper, and use of the gym. I informed the front desk manager and clerk that I would not need any of those services and that I would like to decline to pay. Long story short, I got a condescending speech about how priceline works, and that I could either pay the fee, or lose out on the original $45/night for three nights plus fees. I reluctantly checked in to the resort because my only other option was to spend even more money on another hotel reservation.

The next day I wrote to Priceline’s customer service and got a generic message stating that since it’s stated in fine print somewhere on the site that there was nothing they could do.

It then turned out that I needed to stay two more days, I (stupidly) tried Priceline again, and was very careful with my request, I selected a 3 star hotel (making sure not to select “resorts”) and entered $30 per night. Once again.. I was put at a resort. This resort had a $15/day resort fee. I contacted customer service once again stating that I did not select “resorts” in my search. They informed me that when a higher rated room is available at the rate that you bid, they will automatically upgrade you. How nice of them.

My complaint is that resorts are abusing the Priceline system by offering a ridiculously low rate on Priceline, and then charging extra “fees” when you actually get there to make up the difference. This is a scam, and needs to be stopped.

I’ve used Priceline several times in the last year and never had this problem before. It’s a shame I’ll have to book my rooms elsewhere now.

It’s doubtful this issue is restricted to Priceline. Even if you book directly through hotels, automatic extra fees give you a Ticketmaster-like experience.

When you’re booking hotels, which services do you find give you the most accurate prices?

Comments

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  1. Gramin says:

    Haven’t consumers learned yet??? ALWAYS book hotels, airline tickets and car rentals directly with that company. Avoid third party “discount” providers as they hardly provide any discount and troubleshooting problems is extremely difficult.

    • Gulliver says:

      You have no clue what you are talking about. The resort fee is there NO MATTER WHO YOU BOOK WITH. Two, blind bids are generally significantly cheaper than “direct” with the hotel. Haven’t you learned to get an education before opening your mouth?

      • HappyFunTimes says:

        Fighting fire with fire :P It’s a tactic that generally works very well.

      • Gramin says:

        If you book directly with the resort, they can’t hide the fee. And since I book anywhere between 125-150 hotel rooms a year, I think I know what I’m talking about. My education is just fine, jackass.

        • lordargent says:

          So every 2.4 to 2.9 days, you’re booking a hotel? How do you find the time to post?

          /Anyway, the OP should stay away from Aruba and their timeshare tax.

        • Gulliver says:

          Since you have admitted you do not use priceline, I would suggest you start booking there to see that the resort fee IS posted there. Oh thats right, you BOOK so many hotels every year you know more than anybody else. Tell you what. Tell me the price at the Scottsdale resort from THEIR site. Then find it on priceline? Oh how about that, they both have the resort fee AND priceline is $30 less currently.

          I guess YOU are the only consumer who has learned, the rest of us are all too beneath you to find deals. Go crawl back in to your hole loser

    • Bativac says:

      You know what? I tried to book directly with Doubletree on two occasions recently. Their rates in one case were $15/night higher than Priceline and in the other case were TRIPLE the Priceline price. When I asked about price matching, I was told by the Hilton employee that they do not match “third party pricing.”

      He was in a call center, not in the actual hotels I was asking about (as he was able to book hotels in 2 different states) and was not interested in any kind of negotiation. So I would say buyer beware, but don’t assume the hotel is going to give you any kind of deal.

    • EnergyStarr says:

      use a travel agent. i was surprised that this old-school method would provide more savings than i could find online; even dealing directly with the airline/hotel/rental company. these people are professionals for a reason.

    • Bob Lu says:

      It is simply not “always” true.

      I agree that people should always ask the airline/hotel for a better deal or price matching. But you can not assume that whenever you contact the airline/hotel directly, they will alway offer you the best deal.

      As for Priceline’s blind bidding, run away from it like hell. Hotwire’s way is not without its own problem but at least gives you a little more control on what you ill get.

    • Mauvaise says:

      Have to agree with Gulliver. Resort fees are not new, nor are they a way to “bilk” Priceline customers.

      From Scottsdale Resort & Conference Center’s website (found in two clicks): For your convenience, a daily resort fee of $19.00 is added to your room account and includes the following resort services: wireless internet access, fitness center fees, overnight parking, lobby coffee bar (6am – 10am,) complimentary printing of boarding passes, unlimited local and 800 telephone calls, newspaper delivered Monday through Saturday, incoming facsimiles, 1 hour tennis court time including racquet and tennis ball rental, 2 hour resort bicycle rental and postage for postcards and letters. All reservations are subject to room tax.

      That being said, I’ve stayed at this place and they have the BEST Sunday Brunch in the Palm Court. Very expensive, but well worth it I thought (well, my company paid, so…)

  2. Gulliver says:

    Book anywhere you want, the fees are there. Book at Expedia, Travelocity, the hotels own web site. It will not matter. You got a 4 star resort for $64 a night. Priceline is very clear about resort fees. Just because you can not be bothered to read it does not mean it is a “scam”

    • longdvsn says:

      unfortunately, with ‘name your own price’…it’s a BIG deal that resort fees aren’t included. It’s different if you’re just browsing the hotels and pick one you want (and can look up the fees in advance).

      With “name your own price”, you don’t find out who accepted your bid until after they’ve taken your non-refundable money. What’s to stop a resort from accepting a $20/night (or other low price) bid and tacking on a huge resort fee that doubles or triples your price??? Another place might not have accepted the $20 bid but might be cheaper overall. It’s very deceptive! Maybe not a ‘scam’…but very shady and deceptive.

    • dreamcatcher2 says:

      It is a scam when the marketing message and the fine print directly conflict with each other. Priceline has registered “name your own price”. And yet, when you name your own price, there is a risk that a “resort” – whatever that means – will swoop in and take the offer instead of a hotel, and then you didn’t name your own price. The resort named their price, and somehow you got roped into it.

      If I were Priceline, I wouldn’t want to destroy the brand value of “The Negotiator” that they spend so much advertising money to build up.

    • twritersf says:

      That’s simply not true for Priceline. Their small print says fees may be added, but does not tell you how much. Hotwire, at least, will tell you the approximate amount of dishonest fees, but it takes a couple of extra clicks to find out, making pricing comparisons more difficult.

  3. pop top says:

    Places don’t just charge the resort fees because of Priceline, it’s a new money-making thing they’re doing and in some places it’s a city tax that’s called a resort fee. I paid resort fees last year when I went to Vegas, and I booked directly with the hotel. They were up front about the fees from the get-go though. This is why in these threads I always recommend using a site like Hotels.com or Travelocity or check the price and then book with the hotel directly.

  4. Eyeheartpie says:

    I believe the main problem here is that Priceline is upgrading people to hotels that require these fees when the customer specifically asks for one without. In that case, I believe Priceline should be on the hook for the extra fees, since the customer did not want to pay that price, and now has to be cause Priceline “upgraded” them.

    As for the resort fees, they are a fee. Priceline rates are $XX + taxes and fees, so if you look for a hotel for $40 a night, you will end up paying $40 + taxes and fees. The resort fee is just that….a fee.

  5. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Do taxes count as “hidden” fees as well?

  6. Hermia says:

    The Tropicana in Las Vegas did that to me a few years ago (right before it entered bankruptcy). I was booked there for work (I did not make the reservation) so the room was billed to our company credit card reserved for travel. On check out they demanded $18/day in “resort fees” that covered the gym and the pool. The pool that was an empty concrete hole in the ground and was “under construction”. They insisted I had to pay these fees because I did not have the company travel credit card present. Despite my protestations that the pool was not in operation therefore the “resort fee” was ridiculous I had to put it on my card and submit the expenses to my employer when I returned from the trip.

    When I brought it to the attention of our company travel agent I was told that they were never notified that there would be “resort fees” or any additional charges of any kind. They booked through the hotel itself, as well.

    • cf27 says:

      They “insisted”? Or what? I’d have told them “So sue me” and walked out the door.

      • Hermia says:

        I was there for work. I got reimbursed by my employer, and I have no idea if they fought it or not. I wasn’t going to risk a ton of drama as I was on a job at the time… It’s not always that easy.

  7. dognose says:

    Yes, the last time I used pricelice I had the same problem. The shabby little hotel the put me in was NOT what I would consider a resort. .. yet had a resort fee. I was also put in what I’d call the worst room in the entire hotel, even though they had many more vacancies.

    The fee was only $5 a day, and it did state that somewhere on the hotel detail page that there was a fee.

  8. ospreyguy says:

    We book in Orlando a lot and this is the norm. I still use priceline quite a bit and just know that this is a cost I will have to pay when I get there.

    The only issue I’ve had is poor star ratings. Occasionally those tourist places and be listed as 3 star and still be a bag of ass. When in certain areas I always go 3-1/2 star. And then it’s 50/50.

    • nbs2 says:

      Learned that the hard way. We were looking for a place to crash in Orlando our first night there (the drive down was quicker than we thought) and booked a 3 star. We ended up at [redacted] (just kidding – it was Baymont Inn & Suites). The lobby area wasn’t bad, but the room area was a star and a half to two stars. Plues we enjoyed the opportunity to pay an additional $5. All in all, it gave me the impression that staying at the Disney Motels would have been a quality/price wash.

      • balthisar says:

        “Stars” for hotels aren’t quality ratings like stars for TV shows or movies on TV. Stars indicate the amenities available at a hotel. A five star hotel could very well have really crappy rooms.

  9. thej999 says:

    I wouldn’t dismiss Priceline completely for bargain hotels, I have had overall good luck with them over dozens of attempts. For 50%+ off you can expect you aren’t getting the nicest hotels in the area, but check first with betterbidding.com. If you want a 5 star resort then by all means look for package resort deals where you know where you are staying. If you need a hotel for a night or two for 50%+ off and you aren’t picky, Priceline is a generally a great way to save a few bucks as long as you stay to 2.5+ stars.

  10. Mom says:

    So, he stayed in a 4 star hotel in Scottsdale for $64? Yeah, I think it should have been spelled out up front, but he still got a damn good deal.

  11. andrewe says:

    The resort fees are a scam. They are identical to the fees airlines charge but no not include in online pricing. It is a shady practice meant to draw you in with an initial low price and smack you with fees (that make up a large percentage of the total bill) for services that have typically been included in your standard room rate (pool) or for things you wouldn’t have used even if they were free (newspaper, gym.)

    As others above have posted it is best to deal directly with hotels. Typically they are up front about the fees and you are free to ask for a total charge before you book. Booking directly with the hotel has other benefits too. If there are any problems you can handle them at the front desk. Hotels also treat people who use 3rd party booking agents differently. Expect less help and likely a less desirable room.

    There are other benefits of booking directly too.Last month I booked directly with Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas and at the end of my stay I was comped for a large portion of my bill. Let o do that.Travelocity try that.

    If you must book with a 3rd party call your hotel first to confirm any extra fees and be sure to read all the fine print. There’s a lot of stuff in there that can save you some trouble.

    • andrewe says:

      Also.

      I’d like to see Travelocity et al show these fees or offer to search for hotels that do not have resort fees.

  12. Design3r says:

    I’m with a few on this one. It cost me $160 for 1 night in Sheridan, WY at a Hampton Inn and he’s paying $64 for a 4-star in Scottsdale…. pay the fee.

  13. Geekybiker says:

    Resort fees are a scam. Especially when it says fees, taxes, etc included and then you get hit with additional fees.

    I’m going to recommend booking direct with hotels too. I typically shop around and go back to the hotel if I get a better offer elsewhere. You get treated alot better if there are any issues if you book direct.

    • Gramin says:

      Agreed. If you have a problem and booked through Priceline et al, they’re just going to play the blame game on each other. When I book with Westin and there’s a problem, I know exactly who to call.

  14. IThinkThereforeIAm says:

    I guess everyone should get used to the fact that modern marketing changed the meaning of the word price.
    Nowadays everyone has a price that is really low, and looks very lucrative, but the amount of money you have to pay is actually price + fees + surcharges + licensing costs + shipping and handling + whatever else we can come up with.
    Car rental for 24.99? U-Haul for $19.95 per day? Hotel rooms (plus “tourist tax”)?

    Personally I think it violates the spirit of “truth in advertising/sales/whatever”, but apparently our attorney overlords found a way to keep it within the letter of the laws…

  15. Macgyver says:

    Right in their TOS:
    “Depending on the city and property you stay in, you may also be charged resort fees or other incidental fees, such as parking charges. These charges, if applicable, will be payable by you to the hotel directly at checkout.”
    Just cause he didn’t read it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, or hidden.

  16. AllanG54 says:

    I stayed at the All Star Music resort on Disney property Columbus Day weekend and they too wanted extra money for an internet connection. I didn’t need it but at least they didn’t make me pay for it.

  17. RulesLawyer says:

    List of Vegas resort fees from one of my favorite snarky Vegas travel sites: http://cheapovegas.com/resort_fees.php

    • Verdant Pine Trees says:

      CheapoVegas is the best!

      I haven’t stayed in Vegas in about five years but I still get a kick out of reading their suggestions on cheap / free things to do.

      Their flophouse tour is truly funny.

  18. dg says:

    One word: Chargeback. If I don’t use or want the services, I’m not paying a fee for it. If it wasn’t clearly and conspicuously disclosed on the website, I’m not paying it.

    Enough people charge it back – it’ll be dealt with differently.

  19. dnrobert24 says:

    Same problem with Tavelocity’s Top Secret Fares. Apparently, unlimited local calls and wi-fi access in a four star hotel in NYC is an additional $18 at the Hotel Roger Williams. Thus, even before you know what hotel you are booking, you are expected to know that you could be paying what they define as “resort fees.”

    • Bajanallo says:

      The same thing happened to me when I used Travelocity to book a room in West Palm Beach. The top secret price was $50 and the resort fee was $25. The property was the Resort at PGA. so be careful. I only use priceline to book and have never had a problem.

  20. Aennan says:

    I have never paid extra fees when booking directly with a hotel.

    On a side note, my one experience with Priceline ended with a phone call where their CS Manager told me, “Priceline can’t guarantee you’ll get a room, but we won’t refund your money either.” After that, I voted with my dollar and took my business elsewhere.

  21. DanKelley98 says:

    Why isn’t Priceline looking out for their customers? Really a simply question…

    • BBBB says:

      “Why isn’t Priceline looking out for their customers? Really a simply question…”

      They are …. their customer is the hotel that they book for.

  22. gman863 says:

    I’d like to see an ad where the 7 foot tall Oriental pimp sidekick walks up to William Shatner and asks:

    Is it wise to bend your customers over and break it off by adding an additional $19 charge, knowing they’ll badmouth both Priceline and the hotel every chance they get for at least a year after their stay?

  23. twritersf says:

    These “resort” fees are fundamentally dishonest. Hotels pull out cost of doing business (CODB) items to lower their advertised prices, then add them in as a “fee” when you arrive at the front desk, when you’re a captive audience and have no reasonable option.

    The key is to shop around and find hotel chains that don’t charge these fees. And when you’re forced into paying them, raise holy hell. Ask for the highest management you can think of and take them to task for their fundamental dishonesty. Seriously, make a scene at the front desk. Let other people hear how shoddily their business practices treat their customers. Complain, complain, complain,make your voice heard, and stop simply being sheep.

  24. duffbeer703 says:

    This is a case of not reading — I’ve used Priceline to book vacations for years, and they are pretty up-front about the fees. The fees are charged to all guests at the resort — including folks who cash in frequent stay points for rooms.

    Priceline is a great service that has helped me book all sorts of personal and business travel without breaking the bank. I’ve been able to stay at $300/night hotels for $60 and have been able to get rooms at times when it was nearly impossible to get a room due to events/conventions/etc.

    The guy who sent this thing is ignorant, and has no business declaring Priceline a scam based on that ignorance.

    • vastrightwing says:

      Sure, Priceline tells you there MAY be resort fees or what ever euphemism they use now. But this is pure bait and switch: They bait you with a low price and then later claim you owe them more money. Priceline needs to renegotiate their rates with the supplier to include all the fees and taxes so what the consumer thinks he’s paying is what he’s actually paying. This holds true for rental cars, hotels, airlines… everything! Just put the entire price so I know how much I’m paying. Anything else is deceptive. Plain and simple.

    • arcoiris says:

      You are an advocate for Priceline. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but when lots of opinions share the word: “scam”, you must admit there is something fishy going on.

  25. Bajanallo says:

    The same thing happened to me when I used Travelocity “TOP Secret” to book a room in West Palm Beach. The top secret price was $50 and the resort fee was $25. ouch The property was the Resort at PGA. so be careful. I only use priceline to book and have never had a problem.
    I use priceline name your own price to book rooms in West Palm Beach every week this year and I have always stayed at Marriott, Crown Plaza or Doubletree for $45-60 and I have not had any problems. Always choose 3 star rooms in West Palm Beach or Palm Beach Gardens.

  26. xamarshahx says:

    imo, Resort Fees should be included when you use Name Your own Price