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sep 04

A traveler rebels when a resort surprises her with a "short stay fee"

Watch out, travelers. More and more hotels and resorts are tacking on fees for services and amenities that used to be free. They'll charge as much as $19 billion in fees this year alone, according to one forecast. The fees aren't disclosed in the base nightly rate you may see quoted online.

The travel troubleshooter Christopher Elliott recently heard of a particularly nefarious fee.

A reader named Ilene wrote him, asking for his help. She had booked a room at the Blue Heron Beach Resort in Orlando through Orbitz. When she checked in, she was told there would be a $50 surcharge because of her "short stay." Her confirmation from Orbitz, which she shared with Elliott, did not mention the fee when she booked.

Elliott helped her get the fee off her bill. But not everyone is able to get a nationally syndicated ombudsman to intervene on their behalf. So, what should you do if you face a charge that a hotel didn't tell you about in advance? Speak up right away in the hotel lobby. Elliott explains why:

When you run into a problem like this, don't take the first "no" for an answer. Don't take the second "no," either. You should have asked for a manager when you were informed about the $50 fee, and if that didn’t work, you should have escalated your complaint to Orbitz and requested a manager.

Your greatest weapon may have been your presence in the lobby of the Blue Heron. A guest who refuses to leave, and is speaking on a cell phone about what she feels is a broken promise made by the property, is every hotel’s worst nightmare. Believe me, a hotel is extremely conscious of a lobby squatter and it won’t take long before it finds a way to make that person happy.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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