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Consumers Need to Carefully Check for Hidden Fees When Making Vacation Plans

Apparent bargain-priced vacations may be presenting only a portion of the customer-cost story. The Better Business Bureau advises consumers to carefully investigate and compare vacation plans, as well as ask questions about extra fees that could significantly impact your vacation budget.

Some airlines are adding fees for many services from luggage to online ticket ordering. Some resorts may be more discreet about added fees that you could end up paying when your stay is complete. These fees may be included in your bill for a variety of amenities including internet access, gym usage and access to the safe. These increased costs often surprise consumers if they haven’t read the terms and conditions of a vacation package.

Reading the fine print and asking questions is vital when making travel arrangements. Hidden fees could significantly impact your final bill when checking out and be real budget busters.

One way to help avoid these surprises is to look at the vacation package brochure and ask if there are added fees for amenities or activities that are pictured or listed.

Fees for various amenities can range from $10 to $30 per day and are not always included in the checkout price on online booking sites. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) describes resort fees as being a part of “drip pricing”, a business model in which firms advertise only part of a price and reveal other charges later in the billing process. Drip pricing is a common business model used in different types of firms including financial institutions and rental car companies.

The FTC has sent a warning letter to 22 hotel operators, informing them that they may be involving themselves in deceptive advertising by not informing consumers of additional fees when they are quoting a price.

The BBB offers some advice for consumers to avoid undisclosed fees:

  • Carefully read the fine print. Review the terms and conditions of a hotel before your stay and before providing a credit card number, in order to discover additional fees that may be added to your stay.
  • Ask questions. If you are unsure of something you read in the fine print, make sure you contact the hotel with questions and concerns beforehand.
  • Discuss the questions and concerns you had at check-in. Verify the total cost again at check-in. It is much easier to discuss potential charges before it goes on your credit card.

If you run into problems with your resort, you may file a complaint at www.bbb.org

Reproduced with permission from the Better Business Bureau – May  2013 Bulletin

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