Friday, November 13, 2015

DO disturb hotels when they don"t mention these common problems.
(Photo:
Shutterstock/Thinkstock)
On average hotels do a much better job of satisfying
customers than airlines—a conclusion supported by many surveys and
ranking systems.
But beating the airlines is a pretty low bar: No modern
hotel"accommodations are as downright uncomfortable and unpleasant as an
economy class airline seat.Even so, however, many hotels and hotel chains
harbor some dirty little secrets they"d prefer to keep under wraps.
Some are
endemic while others are isolated.
Here are a few to you"ll be glad to
know.
Mandatory FeesMandatory "resort," "concierge," "housekeeping,"
"porterage," fees (along with other more esoteric varieties) are the hotel
industry"s most active and widespread current scam.
Hotel perpetrators slice
off a part of the real price, post the remaining low-ball partial price as the
basic room rate, give a plausible label to the sliced-off part, and add it
back in before you buy.
The practice started in Las Vegas and Hawaii, but it
is spreading like a cancer throughout much of the U.S.The practice harms
consumers by giving the scamming hotels an apparent price advantage over
honest hotels in side-by-side price comparisons.
These function as "hidden"
fees in some cases, but for the most part hotels disclose them somewhere along
the line.
As is so often the case, however, disclosure is an insufficient
remedy: The Florida Attorney General rightly described a similar scam a few
years back as being "inherently deceptive."Fortunately, several consumer
activists are getting after the FTC and individual states to ban the
practice.
And attorneys general in other states are getting
interested.
Consumers may see some sorely needed corrective action soon.More
from Smarter Travel: Hotel Resort Fees: The Real Story
There Is No Consumer
Protection from OverbookingThe Department of Transportation requires airlines
to compensate travelers who are bumped from an oversold flight.
But oversold
hotel guests have no comparable protection at either the federal, state or
local levels, as far as we can tell.
If you show up with a confirmed
reservation but the hotel is oversold and can"t give you a room, the hotel has
broken a contract and you presumably have a remedy through contract law.
But
that doesn"t get you a place to sleep that night.Traditionally, if you have a
reservation and a hotel is unable to accommodate you, a hotel is supposed to
"walk" you: Find an accommodation in a "comparable" hotel nearby, arrange your
transportation to that hotel if it"s more than walking distance away, and pay
for your first night.
Unfortunately that practice is something of an urban
legend, sometimes honored but sometimes ignored.
It"s neither a law nor a
formal requirement anywhere, even as a recommendation from the industry"s
trade associations.
You can ask, but you can"t demand.
And, as far as we know,
nobody is currently working toward establishing any sort of industry
standard.
They Want to ‘Own" YouMany hotel chains are following the
same objective as the big airlines: They want to "own" you as a customer and,
specifically, make sure you book through their own channels.
The benefits to
the hotels are (1) they don"t have to pay anything to third-party online
booking agencies and (2) they have a chance to upsell you or sell you
something else.What this means for consumers is that hotels offer you some
strong incentives to do things their way.
They can offer membership or
age-based discounts that most third-party systems can"t access.
And some
chains now limit their "free" Wi-Fi or breakfast deals to members of their
frequent stay programs who book directly with the hotel.
The net result is
that third parties are great for locating hotels, but you have to go through
the hotel check for deals those third parties may not show.
Wi-Fi: High Fees,
Low SpeedsIt"s not just you… hotel Wi-Fi can be really slow.
(Photo:
Thinkstock)"
Wi-Fi is rapidly approaching deal-breaker status: If a hotel
doesn"t have in-room Wi-Fi, many travelers will want to go somewhere
else.
This is apparently true even in resort areas where the focus is
(ostensibly) on enjoying the local beach or mountain.
And, increasingly,
customers expect Wi-Fi to be included in the room rate along with beds,
ventilation, and hot water.For some strange reason, many hotels still charge
for Wi-Fi.
And for some really strange reason, the more upscale hotels are
more likely to charge for it.
That seems insane: If Motel El Cheapo can manage
to offer free Wi-Fi, why does the Ritz have to charge as much as $15 to $20 a
day?A related and equally appalling problem is that even expensive Wi-Fi at
posh hotels can be really s … l … o … w.
You can see for
yourself thanks to hotelwifitest.com.
Some of the most expensive hotels
provide extremely low bandwidth.This problem—at least the fee
part—will likely solve itself, as free Wi-Fi is on its way to becoming
an almost universal norm.
As to the speed, however, that"s anyone"s guess.More
from Smarter Travel: The New Hotel Wi-Fi Scam You Haven"t Heard of
Yet
Unreasonable Parking FeesNobody expects free parking at a hotel in
midtown Manhattan or around Union Square in San Francisco.
But you do expect
free parking at a low-rise in a suburban location that is surrounded by an
expansive parking area.
Unfortunately, however, you sometimes run into parking
fees at unexpected places and locations where the hotel can"t really justify
them.This is more of a peeve than a serious problem, and one you can usually
avoid.
But it goes to show that you should always verify that the parking is
free.
Unresponsive Climate ControlThe most unpleasant night I ever
experienced in a hotel was at a four-star property at Orly Airport outside
Paris.
It was in early spring during an unseasonal heat wave.
The hotel"s
climate control system was still set for "winter," meaning only heat was on,
and with windows that didn"t open the room became an oven.
The hotel couldn"t
do anything but offer a small portable fan; apparently switching the full
system from heating to cooling mode required a day or more.These days, modern
hotels tend to have windows that don"t open at all or, if you"re lucky, open a
few measly inches.
Some even charge for air conditioning! And if the climate
system isn"t really yours to control, you can find yourself in for a bad
night.
You don"t encounter this problem often, but when you do, the only
relief is to move to a different hotel.Related: 5 Ways to Avoid Common Hotel
Scams
Location and View ExaggerationThe words "just steps to the beach" in a
brochure or online description don"t mean much unless the hotel specifies how
many steps it is.
Similarly, a "partial" ocean view can be partial indeed if
the only way to catch a glimpse of the sea is to stick your head out a window
and look beyond a busy highway, shopping center, or airport runway.
And a
wide-angle lens can make a closet look as big as a ballroom.You routinely
encounter mild puffery that makes a hotel seem better than it is.
But hotels
sometimes cross—or at least stick their toe across—the fine line
between harmless exaggeration and outright lying.
As a consumer, your best
protection is to do some investigative research on TripAdvisor or some other
source of unbiased reporting from travelers.
BedbugsBedbugs are common enough
to spawn several report websites.
(Photo: Thinkstock)
Yes, hotels sometimes
harbor bedbugs, and the problem seems to be getting worse in recent
years.
Hotels find it hard to prevent the invasion of bedbugs since the little
critters often hitch rides on unsuspecting guests.
The problem has gained a
high enough profile to attract at least three websites devoted to reporting on
hotel bedbug experiences: Bedbug Registry, Bedbug Reports, and
Bedbugs.net.
You can also see bedbug reports on TripAdvisor and other
reader-based hotel review websites."More from Smarter Travel: 5 Ways to Stop
Bedbugs Before They Bite
Price GougingHotels jack up their rates for big
events.
Surely, that"s not a surprise.
Whether it"s a Super Bowl, World Cup,
World Series, Olympic Games, or a big convention, local hotels typically ask
double or more what they charge in normal times.
In some ways, you can"t blame
them: After all, pricing is the classic method of balancing supply and demand,
and when demand is high and capacity is fixed, the market says hike the prices
until demand shrinks to the level of capacity.
But you can"t avoid at least a
little bit of schadenfreude when predicted hordes fail to show up for a
heavily hyped event and the rooms go empty.
Too Many Palms to CrossBaggage
handling and other tips aren"t included in you rate and can add up
fast.
(Photo: Thinkstock)
Check into a typical motel along an Interstate and
the clerk hands you a key, says "Have a nice day," and promptly forgets about
you.
But in an upscale hotel, you sometimes have to run a gauntlet of folks
holding out their palms for you to cross—with bills.
You"ve schlepped
your baggage in from the airport, maybe along a half mile of corridors, only
to have someone want $3 to haul the bag a few hundred feet to your room.
Want
a taxi? The doorman toots a whistle, you fork over a few bucks.The most
annoying element in all this is the relatively recent trend that you"re
expected to tip housekeepers and other employees for services you formerly
figured were covered by the room rate.
This is not to say that housekeepers
may both deserve and need more compensation than the hotel provides.
But the
sad fact is that all too many employers these days try to shift employees from
fully compensated toward tip-based work categories to cut their pay.More From
SmarterTravel:
The New Wi-Fi Scam That Steals Your Credit Card Number
10
Dirty Secrets of Car Rental Companies
Worst New Airline and Hotel Fees of
2015Read the original story: 10 Dirty Little Secrets of Hotels"by Ed Perkins,
who is a regular contributor to SmarterTravel.WATCH: Brittany"s Travel Hacks:
Use Your TV as a Phone Charger And More Helpful Hotel Tips
Let World
traveling club Travel inspire you every day.
Watch World traveling club Travel"s new original series "A Broad Abroad.""
DO disturb hotels when they don't mention these common problems.
(Photo:
Shutterstock/Thinkstock) On average hotels do a much better job of satisfying
customers than airlines—a conclusion supported by many surveys and ranking
systems.
But beating the airlines is a pretty low bar: No modern
hotel accommodations are as downright uncomfortable and unpleasant as an
economy class airline seat.
Even so, however, many hotels and hotel chains
harbor some dirty little secrets they'd prefer to keep under wraps..For some
strange reason, many hotels still charge for Wi-Fi.
And for some really
strange reason, the more upscale hotels are more likely to charge for it.
That
seems insane: If Motel El Cheapo can manage to offer free Wi-Fi, why does the
Ritz have to charge as much as $15 to $20 a day?A related and equally
appalling problem is that even expensive Wi-Fi at posh hotels can be really s
… l … o … w.
You can see for yourself thanks to
hotelwifitest.com.
Some of the most expensive hotels provide extremely low
bandwidth.This problem—at least the fee part—will likely solve
itself, as free Wi-Fi is on its way to becoming an almost universal norm.
As
to the speed, however, that"s anyone"s guess.More from Smarter Travel: The New
Hotel Wi-Fi Scam You Haven"t Heard of Yet
Unreasonable Parking FeesNobody
expects free parking at a hotel in midtown Manhattan or around Union Square in
San Francisco.
But you do expect free parking at a low-rise in a suburban
location that is surrounded by an expansive parking area.
Unfortunately,
however, you sometimes run into parking fees at unexpected places and
locations where the hotel can"t really justify them.This is more of a peeve
than a serious problem, and one you can usually avoid.
But it goes to show
that you should always verify that the parking is free.
Unresponsive Climate
ControlThe most unpleasant night I ever experienced in a hotel was at a
four-star property at Orly Airport outside Paris.
It was in early spring
during an unseasonal heat wave.
The hotel"s climate control system was still
set for "winter," meaning only heat was on, and with windows that didn"t open
the room became an oven.
The hotel couldn"t do anything but offer a small
portable fan; apparently switching the full system from heating to cooling
mode required a day or more.These days, modern hotels tend to have windows
that don"t open at all or, if you"re lucky, open a few measly inches.
Some
even charge for air conditioning! And if the climate system isn"t really yours
to control, you can find yourself in for a bad night.
You don"t encounter this
problem often, but when you do, the only relief is to move to a different
hotel.Related: 5 Ways to Avoid Common Hotel Scams
Location and View
ExaggerationThe words "just steps to the beach" in a brochure or online
description don"t mean much unless the hotel specifies how many steps it
is.
Similarly, a "partial" ocean view can be partial indeed if the only way to
catch a glimpse of the sea is to stick your head out a window and look beyond
a busy highway, shopping center, or airport runway.
And a wide-angle lens can
make a closet look as big as a ballroom.You routinely encounter mild puffery
that makes a hotel seem better than it is.
But hotels sometimes
cross—or at least stick their toe across—the fine line between
harmless exaggeration and outright lying.
As a consumer, your best protection
is to do some investigative research on TripAdvisor or some other source of
unbiased reporting from travelers.
BedbugsBedbugs are common enough to spawn
several report websites.
(Photo: Thinkstock)
Yes, hotels sometimes harbor
bedbugs, and the problem seems to be getting worse in recent years.
Hotels
find it hard to prevent the invasion of bedbugs since the little critters
often hitch rides on unsuspecting guests.
The problem has gained a high enough
profile to attract at least three websites devoted to reporting on hotel
bedbug experiences: Bedbug Registry, Bedbug Reports, and Bedbugs.net.
You can
also see bedbug reports on TripAdvisor and other reader-based hotel review
websites."More from Smarter Travel: 5 Ways to Stop Bedbugs Before They
Bite
Price GougingHotels jack up their rates for big events.
Surely, that"s
not a surprise.
Whether it"s a Super Bowl, World Cup, World Series, Olympic
Games, or a big convention, local hotels typically ask double or more what
they charge in normal times.
In some ways, you can"t blame them: After all,
pricing is the classic method of balancing supply and demand, and when demand
is high and capacity is fixed, the market says hike the prices until demand
shrinks to the level of capacity.
But you can"t avoid at least a little bit of
schadenfreude when predicted hordes fail to show up for a heavily hyped event
and the rooms go empty.
Too Many Palms to CrossBaggage handling and other
tips aren"t included in you rate and can add up fast.
(Photo:
Thinkstock)
Check into a typical motel along an Interstate and the clerk
hands you a key, says "Have a nice day," and promptly forgets about you.
But
in an upscale hotel, you sometimes have to run a gauntlet of folks holding out
their palms for you to cross—with bills.
You"ve schlepped your baggage
in from the airport, maybe along a half mile of corridors, only to have
someone want $3 to haul the bag a few hundred feet to your room.
Want a taxi?
The doorman toots a whistle, you fork over a few bucks.The most annoying
element in all this is the relatively recent trend that you"re expected to tip
housekeepers and other employees for services you formerly figured were
covered by the room rate.
This is not to say that housekeepers may both
deserve and need more compensation than the hotel provides.
But the sad fact
is that all too many employers these days try to shift employees from fully
compensated toward tip-based work categories to cut their pay.More From
SmarterTravel:
The New Wi-Fi Scam That Steals Your Credit Card Number
10
Dirty Secrets of Car Rental Companies
Worst New Airline and Hotel Fees of
2015Read the original story: 10 Dirty Little Secrets of Hotels"by Ed Perkins,
who is a regular contributor to SmarterTravel.WATCH: Brittany"s Travel Hacks:
Use Your TV as a Phone Charger And More Helpful Hotel Tips
Let World
traveling club Travel inspire you every day.
Watch World traveling club Travel"s new original series "A Broad
Abroad.""
DO disturb hotels when they don't mention these common
problems.
(Photo: Shutterstock/Thinkstock) On average hotels do a much better
job of satisfying customers than airlines—a conclusion supported by many
surveys and ranking systems.
But beating the airlines is a pretty low bar: No
modern hotel accommodations are as downright uncomfortable and unpleasant as
an economy class airline seat.
Even so, however, many hotels and hotel chains
harbor some dirty little secrets they'd prefer to keep under wraps.

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