New Award for Creative Fleecing
Services, once included in general charges, are moved elsewhere in preparation for later consumer fleecing–but without reducing general charges. Examples: Once an amenity, a newspaper slipped under your hotel room door each morning becomes a hefty surcharge at checkout. Or making flight reservations on an airline’s website may land you in a lesser coach seat without a lesser charge. Seats may look alike on most airline computer websites, but coach seats vary in size and legroom. (Some turn out to be narrower than others without price adjustments.)
If discovered by angry consumers, Explanation=Justification is rolled out: “Sorry, that $10 newspaper delivery charge was printed on your sign-in sheet.” Or “We did not assign you that middle seat. Our computer system did it when you made your reservation. You were between the two Sumo wrestlers? Hope you got their autographs.”
Consumers can beat many fees: Question any strange charges when checking out. If that doesn’t work, on grounds of improper charges challenge the entire hotel bill when the total charge appears on the credit card statement. Airline fees are tougher to challenge, but some airlines will offer points to soothe an angry consumer.
To recognize advances in fleecing, I am adding a new award: The Fleecer of the Year Award for 2012. Criteria include discovery of a new fee, a clever camouflage, or a unique justification for the fleecing. If you are a 2012 fleece victim, send me details
Note: This post and the new award were inspired by Stephanie Rosenbloom’s excellent article Fleeced By Fees? in the New York Times Travel section for Sep 23.