Saturday, April 29, 2017

Why do high-end hotels insist on charging for Wi-Fi service or "resort fees"?

It's sleazy, black-hat marketing. They count on you to pay it rather than kick up a fuss. Often, they will remove the charge if you persist in objecting after they make one attempt to 'explain' it to you (they try that much because some people will, however willingly or grudgingly, come around with an attempt at explanation). It's like that catch on FreeCreditReport.com and similar sites that you don't notice in the fine print, that signs you up in some sort of 'savings club' having a very unclear, if any, purpose, at a $3.00 monthly charge on your credit card bill: a lot of people let it slide, at least for a few months, rather than call them up, wait on hold for twenty minutes, and demand to cancel the 'enrollment'.

Image result for resort fees

One of my own pet peeves in that area is that dollar per night extra charge that gets tacked on to your bill for 'insurance' on the contents of your in-room safe, whether you use the safe or not. Most people don't notice it. Even the contract with the safe supplier provides that the hotel is supposed to take it off if someone complains about it. There may even be a case where an in-room safe was broken into, someone made a claim on that insurance, and the insurance paid off the claim, but I'm not aware of any.

It's usually what, in Vegas, they call it a 'soft hustle'. (Of course, if they dig in and refuse to take the charge off, and nothing short of a lawsuit will even get them to consider it, and there's something in the fine print they can try as a defense against that, it becomes what is known in Vegas as a 'cold hustle' . . .)

Resort fees allow a property to advertise one price, then add on an additional charge for whatever the 'resort fee' is supposed to cover. (Here we go with that FreeCreditReport.com 'savings club' again: what is that 'resort fee' supposed to cover?) It's like advertising a new car at an astoundingly low price, but only including wheels and an engine as an extra-cost option. Or adding on the full bells-and-whistles options package without first consulting the customer, hoping he'll sign on the dotted line rather than insist that he didn't order, and doesn't want, the car loaded with options and isn't willing to pay the extra cost.

Business or government travelers with a reimbursable expense account will frequently let a wi-fi charge slide rather than get into an argument over it: it's not coming out of their pockets. The only rationale I've ever heard for charging for wi-fi that makes any sense at all is limited bandwith - if every guest in a large hotel fires up a laptop and goes online at once, it'll cause a degradation in signal that'll slow everyone's internet connection down. But this is a problem that's easily and cheaply overcome, with adequate routers.

Meanwhile, even the local $49.99 a night Econo Lodge offers free wi-fi. What does that tell you about the scarcity of bandwidth?

You'll never see one of our hotels doing it.

Originally appeared on Quora

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