Are energy fees coming back?

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Oh I certainly hope not! But Chris Elliott has found an example of a hotel that's charging a mandatory $12 per-night utility charge. I think it was around 10 years ago that the domestic U.S. hotel industry started imposing energy surcharges to offset a rise (what now seems like a quaint little upshoot) in energy costs. Class-action lawsuits ensued, and energy fees and surcharges seemed to disappear as energy prices backed down (though there has been no shortage of other fees sprouting up to take their place).

The biggest issue I have with the example Elliott gives is that the hotel offered the guest a chance to accept or deny the fee, then charged him anyway after he declined it. That's just wrong on every front.

What's really interesting, though, is a poll he has that, at the time I took it, showed 81 percent saying hotels should not be allowed to break out mandatory costs when they quote a room rate. IMHO, they can break it out all they like, as long as it's all disclosed up front so people know what they'll have to pay at the end of their stay. Would I prefer to have it all rolled into the price? Of course—it's borderline bizarre to break out the costs for heat, water, and electricity (I won't go into the mandatory fees for things that should be optional, such as resort fees). But if a hotel feels it's better customer service to make the customers do math, so be it. Just as long as it's all disclosed and all the numbers add up.

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