Reservations about fees

From an editorial in Thursday’s News & Observer:

The airlines started it, this business of adding extra fees to travel, for baggage and the like. But hotels, The Associated Press reported this week, are signing on to this gouge-the-customer game. This year, hotels are going to take in over $2 billion in add-on fees, some of them covering things that guests likely wouldn’t dream of seeing on a bill.

Whatever happened to all those consumer advocates on Capitol Hill? Perhaps they’re getting their rooms comped.

At the Liberty Hotel in Boston, a cold can of Coke from the minibar runs $5. That’s outrageous, but not unheard of. But here’s the kicker: There’s an 18 percent “administrative fee” for a hotel worker to put another can of Coke in the minibar.

The last straw: Tips are no longer optional in many places. They’re just added to the bill.

If guests ship something to a hotel in advance of a visit, some charge $10 to $25 just to receive the package.

When pricing hits gouging, it’s time for regulators to step in. Consumers who need to travel and have to have places to stay can’t do much other than to throw up their hands and pay it. But Congress has a right, and in fact a duty, to protect them.