Travel season is in full swing, and that means you’ll most likely be getting on an airplane and spending some time in a hotel. Right now, the hotel industry is experiencing significant growth. April 2015 demonstrated the highest annualized occupancy in the history of the United States hotel industry. Unfortunately, your summer getaway may mean being subjected to hidden hotel and airfare fees.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission refers to this as “drip pricing,” which they describe as a pricing scheme where a business will only advertise a portion of a product or service price and then unveil additional fees at a later time (often during the buying process). Consequently, you’ll have to be on guard when using airline, hotel, and car rental services. Here’s what to watch out for.
1. Be aware of “resort fees”
Sometimes a hotel will charge what they call a resort fee. These fees are mandatory and guests are billed for extras such as Internet access, newspapers, and the use of exercise equipment. Consumers have been complaining about drip pricing for some time now. This resulted in the FTC sending out notices to hotel operators to give them a warning that their websites may be violating laws due to deceptive advertising.
2. Ask before you buy
It will be much harder to make changes once you’ve forked over your cold, hard cash. Make sure to ask an airline, hotel, or car rental service representative if you will be required to pay any additional charges. Waiting until you’re ready to check out will just bring added stress and confusion. Preparing in advance will reduce the chance of surprises when you get your final bill.
3. Read the fine print
It is important to read everything and get confirmation for each and every fee. Even though you may call and get an answer over the phone about pricing, don’t just take their word for it. Make sure to read over any paperwork before you sign it. Also make sure that you are clear on the estimated and final prices.
4. Don’t accept unfair charges
If you were unfairly charged for fees or services that were not made known to you beforehand, you should ask to discuss the charges with a manager. You may be able to get some or all of the charges removed from your bill. It never hurts to ask.
5. Know your rights
If all else fails, know that you have the right to file a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau. You can file a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission through their online complaint assistant here or when you place a call to 1-877-382-4357. You can file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau here or when you call (703) 276-0100.