Consumer Diary: Fees Hide Real Product Prices | Business

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I hate paying what is euphemistically called “resort” and “facilities” fees every time we stay at a hotel. These are the made-up fees hotels charge to cover everything from internet and gym access to bottled water and lounge chairs.

Some hotels don’t disclose charges in their advertising, so you might think you’re getting a good rate only to find it’s an extra $20-$40 per day for items a hotel would normally provide .

In fact, they’re all meant to grease the bottom lines and avoid what would normally be state room sales and occupancy taxes by pretending they’re extras.

Indeed, recently we checked the room rates at the Miami Beach hotel where we have always stayed. The rate for when we were there was $345 per day – not that great. But the fine print said we would pay a $42 resort fee. yuck!

Guess what? There are strategies for disputing these charges and perhaps help from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Last week, the CFPB launched an initiative “to save households billions of dollars a year by reducing unwanted operating costs” charged by hotels, banks and financial firms.

“This new ‘fee economy’ distorts our free market system by hiding the true price of products from the competitive process,” said CFPB director Rohit Chopra. “And the fees allegedly charged to cover individual expenses… can often greatly exceed the actual cost of that service.”

CFPB research revealed several areas in financial services where return fees could obscure a product’s true costs and undermine a competitive market:

• In 2019, major credit card companies charged over $14 billion in punitive late fees.

• Banking revenues from overdraft and insufficient funds fees topped $15 billion in 2019.

The CFPB is now seeking public comment on:

• Fees associated with their bank, credit union, prepaid or credit card account, mortgage, loan or payment transfer.

• Charges for things that people thought were covered by the base price of a product or service.

• Unexpected charges for a product or service or charges that seemed too high for the purported service.

• Charges for which it was not clear why they were charged.

You can submit comments by March 23 in DocketNo.CFPB-2022-0003 online at

follow the instructions for submitting comments.

• Refuse to pay. Complain to the general manager. If they don’t want to track you, pay by credit card and dispute the charge later with your credit card provider if the service charge was unclear when booking.

• File a complaint with the hotel’s state attorney general, alleging deceptive and deceptive practices that violate state consumer protection laws (such as Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act) – failing to notify charges when booking or paying for services that are generally part of a hotel’s regular offerings and not special extras. File with Connecticut’s AG if you booked online in Connecticut, as you have jurisdiction in the state.

• Sue in your local small claims court. Again, if you booked the hotel online while at home, you have jurisdiction in your local small claims court. You don’t need an attorney and the filing fee is minimal ($95 in Connecticut). The hotel will probably send you a check in the mail and you will never go to court. Big hotel companies won’t waste their $500 an hour attorneys against your $100 claim (+ your court costs).

Consumers with a fee issue: File a complaint with the CFPB online or call 855-411-CFPB (2372).

Do you have a drinking problem? Write to Harlan Levy at

Contact Harlan with your questions, issues and concerns as a consumer; email him at [email protected]

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