Guide

The 5 Worst Hotel Scams

The worst part about staying at a hotel probably is the bill. The often unexpected charges come from services you might not know even existed. Some will rob you blind, while others will do it with your permission. You’ll soon wake up with some surprising charges for additional services that often come close to the price you paid for the actual room. So here are the most common yet legal hotel scams you can come across in your trips around the world.

1. Since it was first introduced to hotels in 1974, the mini-bar has been confusing and tempting tourists from all corners of the world. So when all the amenities are closed and it’s well past midnight, you might be tempted to go for the mini-bar. Think twice before doing unless you want to pay 5$ for a bottle of water or 8$ for a soda. Unless you want to make the hotel a tad richer, simply say no. Go to the grocery store, pick up some water and soda and use the mini-fridge to store them.

2. If you thought those prices are a rip-off, consider the amounts hotels ask for the use of their phone lines. The rates are anywhere between 150% – 400% higher than if you were to use a public or mobile phone. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a calling card or phoning a restaurant to make reservations: everything apart from an internal call is charged by their standards. Some hotels are reported to charge even for the toll-free number you call to use your phone card. When traveling, make sure to bring your cell phone with you or use a public phone.

3. An internet connection is practically vital if you’re traveling for business purposes. If you don’t have a connection set up from the start, installing it might bring you some outrageous fees. Some guests reported that they have been charged even 250$ for one internet connection line. So if you don’t have Wi-Fi set up from the start, take your laptop and go to a restaurant or coffee shop where you’ll find this for free. This way you can also avoid the next hotel scam.

4. Breakfast should be the biggest and most important meal of the day. But when staying at a hotel, you might think twice before opting in for the hotel breakfast. This usually costs up to 30$ and if you have the chance to knock it off your bill, do so confidently. Go to a near café and pay less than 5$ for a good breakfast and the chance to meet some locals. Do so for lunch and dinner as well – there’s nothing better than a delicious local dish.

5. Took your car or rented one for the trip? Parking is certainly going to be an issue, especially when you’re in another country. You’ll often find that hotel parking costs far more than anywhere in the city. It might look tempting, considering the traffic some cities have, the confusing signs or the pedestrian streets, but there’s always an option to escaping the costs of these charges. Why pay up to 50$ a day for parking when you can use a city garage or look for a free spot around the hotel?

photo credits: quicklunarcop, isacosta, withoutsound

16 Comments for "The 5 Worst Hotel Scams"

Thai Hotel Expert says on July 8th, 2008 at 5:56 pm:

oh this is good article. thank you!

rick says on July 8th, 2008 at 6:27 pm:

Great tips. Those mini-bar candies look really great. Where was that pic taken?

It seems you can get most of these things within a short walking distance of a hotel: grocery, coffehouse internet, cell or payphone, etc.

Thanks

Indu says on July 8th, 2008 at 8:05 pm:

The reason hotels have such outrageous prices for such trivial amenities is simple: hotels provide a living environment that is rarely fully utilized. Hotels are expensive because the demand for them is inconsistent. One month they may be operating at capacity while the next month they may operate at half or quarter capacity.

mel says on July 8th, 2008 at 9:42 pm:

Regarding #1, some hotels now use mini-bars that monitor (by weight) when an item is removed and will automatically send the mini-bar charges to the hotel’s computer. If you remove items from one of these automatic mini-bars to place your own items in, you will be charged for the hotel’s mini-bar items even though they haven’t been used. Even if you put the items back in the refrigerator after your stay, you will still be charged for them. It can be very difficult to have these unused items removed from your bill.
If the hotel you are staying in uses this system, you can try to request that the the mini-bar be emptied before you arrive, but they might refuse, or alternately, they may remove the entire mini-bar from the room. Some hotels will provide an extra empty mini-refrigerator upon request, but there may be a charge. If you plan on having several cold drinks in your room though, the charge for the extra refrigerator may still be less than the charge for several mini-bar drinks.

Tim says on July 8th, 2008 at 10:16 pm:

To Mel,
Great point! I had almost forgotten about that happening to me a few years ago. I was charged $300+ for removing the items and putting my own in a mini-fridge. Also check for hotels adding charges for mini bar items you didn’t use. This happened to me in Austin not too long ago. 2 bottled waters and a pack of M&Ms ended up costing me $20. Those were the most expensive non-existent snacks I’ve ever partaken in.

Austin says on July 8th, 2008 at 10:57 pm:

All good tips!
I got hit with crazy internet charges when I was in Singapore for work. It was a couple of bucks for 20 minutes! Unfortunately, there were no cafes or bars I could go to near my hotel, so I was stuck with those fees or no Internet at all.

Jon - The DC Traveler says on July 9th, 2008 at 12:53 am:

Great list. One more, check your bill for “surcharges”, such as Internet access that you didn’t use, electricty surcharge, health club fees, etc.

turrican says on July 9th, 2008 at 8:42 am:

Regarding #1:

Don’t touch the minibar.

Bring your own stuff, grab one of the room trashcans (lined, usually), and fill it up with ice from the icemaker down the hall.

Done and done.

Thai Hotel Expert says on July 9th, 2008 at 9:24 pm:

wow that’s very tricky mel..thanks for telling us. I didn’t know they charge mini bars by weights…that’s pretty bad!

Mary says on July 10th, 2008 at 9:09 pm:

It has happened to me before. During my vacation, I was really thirsty and had to use the mini bar, then I ended up paying the double for the drinks. Mel, I will sure have your comment in consideration for my next trip.

Rosiecheeks says on July 14th, 2008 at 1:49 pm:

Ok, well there’s an idea…why not stay at a hotel that actually INCLUDES most of these things in the room rate!!

Any chain hotel (Days Inn, Travelodge, Ramada, Quality, etc) will usually include continental breakfast, local calls, free wi-fi and parking.

As far as I am concerned, if you have $250 a night to spend on a hotel room, what’s another $30 for breakfast! Travel rich, pay rich.

Stay in a crappier place, it will ultimately cost you less as most things are included!

Andrew says on July 21st, 2008 at 3:58 pm:

Great list, the mini bar gets me all the time also.

SarahB says on July 28th, 2008 at 8:43 pm:

Gee what an article. I’ve heard some stories about hotels. YOu should see the woeful travelers ballad a guy from my company did. HE lays out all the travelers woes in his wacky little poem, lol.

idaho says on July 29th, 2008 at 12:31 pm:

Well about the minibars, you forget that some hotels don’t allow you to bring beverages and food in their rooms. First, and second, I really don’t know how it is in USA for example, but I know that here in Romania the most expensive breakfast I heard of was about 10 euros, but most of the Romanian hotels include the breakfast in their rate.
One thing your forgot was the VAT, which sometimes may not be included in the rate, and also local taxes (money paid to the townhall). They can get up 15% or even higher, of the total amount you pay.

Nice article though :)

aiosmith11 says on July 2nd, 2010 at 6:38 am:

An internet connection is practically vital if you’re traveling for business purposes. If you don’t have a connection set up from the start, installing it might bring you some outrageous fees. Some guests reported that they have been charged even 250$ for one internet connection line. So if you don’t have Wi-Fi set up from the start, take your laptop and go to a restaurant or coffee shop where you’ll find this for free. This way you can also avoid the next hotel scam.

fanny says on September 9th, 2010 at 4:38 pm:

I thing better is it with an vending mashine for cold drinks in each
floor. I can buy when I need a drink or eaven eat some chips. It’s the better way.

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