Watch out for late billing next time you stay at a hotel


Just because you have checked out of your hotel doesn't mean that you've finished paying for your stay.

CNN reports that many hotels are adding on charges after guests have checked out, for anything from breakfasts to minibar and snack items. An industry source confirmed that 75% of these charges are related to the minibar, which is chock-full of routine, but tempting, items...all priced twice to three times what they'd cost at the gas station on the corner.

Unfortunately, if the anecdotes around the web are to be believed, more than a few travelers are being hit with charges for items they didn't even use, in part due to the use of high tech sensors that can bill you as soon as you grab a pack of peanuts. Even if you were just seeing how many calories they had!

While many people will see this as another corporate entity trying to steal from the consumer on a massive scale, it seems that abuse of late billing is the work of a few bad apples or a breakdown in command. The article points out that the number of late billings has doubled in the past year, which sounds extraordinary, but if you do the math, it has only changed from one in 200, to one in 100 bills being changed after checkout. This makes sense to me, since the number if things for which you can be charged appears to have quadrupled in the last year.

Whenever I travel I do my best to avoid any chance for late billing by bringing along a small snack or stopping at a convenience store on my way to the hotel. Not only do I pay less, I have a better selection. I also opt to skip the express checkout. That way I can easily dispute a charge while the stay is fresh in my mind...and where I can make a scene in the lobby if they try to charge me for a Snickers bar and Pay Per View I didn't order. Even with all of these precautions, it is still a good idea to check for any odd charges after any hotel stay.