3 On Your Side

Consumers paying non-resort, resort fees

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
If you’re one of the millions of people who book hotels online, you may decide where to stay based on the lowest price. But buyer beware, that advertised price might not be all you’re expected to pay. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) If you’re one of the millions of people who book hotels online, you may decide where to stay based on the lowest price. But buyer beware, that advertised price might not be all you’re expected to pay. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Lauren Wolfe booked a $400 room online for a Key West hotel but had no idea that wasn’t all she was expected to pay. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Lauren Wolfe booked a $400 room online for a Key West hotel but had no idea that wasn’t all she was expected to pay. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
She was so upset by her own experience, she started a consumer website called KillResortFees.com to share her tips on how to fight resort fees. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) She was so upset by her own experience, she started a consumer website called KillResortFees.com to share her tips on how to fight resort fees. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

If you’re one of the millions of people who book hotels online, you may decide where to stay based on the lowest price. But buyer beware, that advertised price might not be all you’re expected to pay.

We’re talking about fees that claim to be associated with a so-called resort, even if you’re not staying at one.

Lauren Wolfe booked a $400 room online for a Key West hotel but had no idea that wasn’t all she was expected to pay.

“I was shocked that after paying $400 online. I needed to give them an extra $20 in the name of a resort fee,” Lauren says.

A resort fee, otherwise known as a destination or amenity fee, can add anywhere from a few bucks a day, to hundreds of dollars to your overall hotel bill.

But what exactly is a resort fee?

“Resort fees are a tool that has been created within the hotel industry for hotels to bundle a series of services or amenities,” says Mark VanStekelenburg, a hotel industry expert.

While you might expect to pay fees for access to things like day spas and fitness centers at upscale hotels, resortfeechecker.com shows some average-priced hotels are charging resort fees for a variety of amenities from newspapers to housekeeping.

VanStekelenburg says, “As long as the hotel discloses that these particular items are being added together and a resort fee is being charged, a hotel then is effectively disclosing.”

We reached out to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, which explained “80 percent of consumers say they’re willing to pay resort fees if the amenities are worth it.”

They also stated that hotels comply with FTC guidelines “to clearly disclose all fees before a room is booked.”

Wolfe says she didn’t find it so easy.

“The hotel that I was originally charged a resort fee at has a mention of their $75 pet fee on their front page, but they have no mention of their resort fee on the front page,” she says.

She was so upset by her own experience, she started a consumer website called KillResortFees.com to share her tips on how to fight resort fees.

Wolfe tells us, “You can always ask politely at the hotel and many hotel managers might waive it. “If they don’t? Be sure to book the room using a credit card and open up a dispute with the credit card company.”

But consumers aren’t the only ones to fight back against unfair resort fee practices. Forty-seven attorneys general served subpoenas to one major hotel group in relation to an investigation into perceived abuses of resort fees, and the officials we spoke to tell us they’re looking into more hotel groups as well.

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Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

Click to learn more about Gary.

Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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