$16.99 Movie Charged on a Mattress Run When I Didn’t Enter the Room

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Recently I was going through some credit card statements and working on our monthly bills/budget when I noticed a charge from a hotel where I recently completed a “mattress run” for an amount higher than what it should have been.  I then went to the hotel’s website was able to retrieve the final folio from the stay to see the itemized charges (super helpful feature).  Sure enough, there was a “bonus charge” on the account that shouldn’t be there for a $16.99 movie + the taxes associated with that movie.

Mattress Run MovieEspecially since I have a 3 year old who likes playing with the remote, I know it could have been possible to accidentally buy the $16.99 movie without knowing it….if I had ever even been in the room!  However, on this particular mattress run I never even went in the room.  In fact, the front desk staff was the same I had seen several previous times and were chatty enough that I shared with them that I wasn’t going to be staying in the room.  They laughed and said they had a lot of people that do that “for the points” and actually pointed out another person who was hanging out in the lobby for a little bit, but wasn’t going to actually stay in their room.  Not sure what happened between that conversation and when I saw the bill a week or so later, but somehow a movie landed on there.

I’ve made one call to the hotel so far to try and get the charge removed, but they haven’t called back and I have gotten too busy to try again…yet.  I’d like to think this was a fluke, but honestly 2/3 of my hotel bills recently have had extra charges on them.  Most often this is related to being charged for internet when it should be waved, but I’m now using the working assumption that hotel bills are wrong until proven otherwise.  This isn’t a big deal most of the time as it just requires a stop at the front desk on the way out, but on a recent actual stay I was leaving so early and already running late that I didn’t have the time.  Sure enough, I logged on to look at the bill and there are about $40 of internet and other charges for the one night stay that I now need to call about and try and have removed.

It’s not just my own bad luck though as my husband was recently charged $50.01 on his credit card for an award stay instead of the hotel charging the loyalty rewards program.  As soon as we told the accounting department the amount of the charge she knew exactly what happened and fixed it for him.  Still, having to do extra work on more and more hotel bills is at the very least annoying, and potential it is costly if you don’t catch the errors.

Have you been seeing errors on your hotel bills recently?  Do you make it a point to check all of your hotel bills?  Are you seeing more, less, or about the same amount of incorrect charges as you always have?

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  1. I have problems all the time. I get a copy of the bill late the night before I check out and get the problem fixed then. In the AM I check the bill again on Lodgenet if they have that or call the front desk for a final total. I’m working on a mysterious bar charge in STL from about a week ago.

  2. I’ve been seeing a lot of random charges on credit card bills lately too. $5 here, $11 there. Kind of odd.

    Anyways, 99 out of 100 times, they remove the charge without question.

    Read Jacob Tomsky’s Heads in Beds. Apparently this is one of the most contested hotel charges and they’re always removed (movies; mini fridge).

  3. I stayed at he Holiday Inn Elk Grove Village for the Chicago seminar and used points for my stay. There was a $36 charge on my credit card statement the following week that I called the hotel on. They could not figure out what that was for but did remove it promptly. Always good to monitor the credit card activity.

  4. I see it all the time. Especially at some of the nicer hotels. When staying multiple days I usually go to my room portfolio on the TV to make sure I am not getting overcharged. That way I have less to sort through when it is time to check out. If I see something I will call the front desk right then and there and have them remove it.

  5. This is crazy. Don’t the hotels know not to mess with travel bloggers, who have access to Twitter and Trip Advisor? I wouldn’t be as calm as you, MP. What kind of shananagins are these hotels trying to pull?

  6. I have found this happens more at business hotels. It happens so frequently I swear they do it on purpose. From the hotels point of view, a certain percentage of these charges will stick, not everyone checks their bill. Which is of cousre pure profit! The result is that I have started doing the same thing, ie drinking those $4.99 waters and $7.99 nuts etc. They only show up on the bill about 30% of the time anyway and then you can just claim bogus charge.

  7. At the Tampa FTU, my friend added her hyatt number to a receipt for a soda to get credit for the purchase. Instead of charging her credit card that debited 2000 points from her account. Yes, 2000 points for one can of diet coke.

  8. Did some MR’s while in a trip to Miami. I reviewed my bills and notice in nearly single hotel stay I had some type of bogus charges. Best one was from the W in south beach that added 300 bucks to bill!

  9. Two weeks ago I had to go round and round with Marriott over screwing up our bill. We stayed 3 nights….2 nights in my name on award certs and one night in my husband’s name that we paid for. And we stayed in the same room all 3 nights. I went over it with the desk clerk several times and he said it would be no problem but we should stop by the front desk Monday morning and “check out” and have them check us back into the same room under my husband’s reservation. I did this, but somehow we got charged for 3 nights and my 2 reward certs vanished in the wind. I think it’s all sorted out now….I hope.

  10. After checking my folio they put in my room the Sheraton charged me for valet parking when I didn’t even have a car. They supposedly corrected it when I went yo the front desk but our course it wasn’t and that messes my expense report.

  11. Just returned from the Andaz Savannah, and was charged $23 for valet parking. We flew to SAV and paid for a shuttle to/from the airport. No car!

  12. Tried to log in to internet at a recent hotel. Could not log in so gave up. Sure enough, there was a charge for TWO days of internet usage, even though I only stayed one night and did not use it at all. I agree that the hotels do it on purpose knowing full well many people do not check their invoice carefully.

  13. Sounds like someone helped themselves into your room and enjoyed it since you weren’t using it anyway 😉

    On the more serious note – I don’t usually stay at hotels so not a big sample size here, but I watched our checkout bills like a hawk when I put up my parents in Radissons around Europe. Sure enough, most had extra chargers, but most were for minibar/fridge items – turned out that they actually have it computerized – when you remove something from the fridge, it automatically registers that so when we were emptying the fridge to put our groceries in there, then putting the original stuff back in, the system thought we used all of that stuff. Had no issues getting charges reversed at the front desk, but something to keep in mind (I also took pictures of the contents on check-in and then before we checked out, more out of paranoia, never actually had to show them).

  14. From these comments this is obviously happening way too often to be a “glitch”. What sort of glitch could result in a charge for valet parking when you didn’t even have a car?

    This is clearly being done purposely to boost profits. In hopes that either 1} you won’t notice 2} your employer is paying and you won’t care 3} you won’t be willing to go thru all the hassle of getting them to delete the fake charges because you are late for your plane at check out, or once you get home and have to call them multiple times to dispute the charge.

    I’d say, instead of calling the hotel several times in hopes getting someone to call you back about this, if they don’t get back to you 24 hours after your first phone call, file a formal dispute with your credit card company.

    It’s easily done with a simple phone call; much easier than calling the hotel over and over. Once the cc co finds it has to handle thousands of disputes a month, with massive administrative costs, they will let the hotels know they either stop this fraud or lose their charging privileges.

  15. I see this a lot also. I ALWAYS get a copy of the room charges the night before I check out. I especially see erroneous charges when I use other services such as room service or minibar. For example, if I grab a cereal bar from the minibar, I then see minibar charges for 5 or six other things that I did not consume. Same for room service.

  16. Marriott charged us for one night stay in Galveston for room paid with points. Call to the hotel resulted in a quick reversal. Based on all the comments here, I will be watching MUCH closer from now on.

  17. Charges for mini bar at Westin St Francis last month. Front desk removed them no questions asked. We had a very early check out and luckily there was no line. Not sure I would have waited in line to dispute $15.00.

  18. This seems to be happening more and more to me as well. The hotels always seem willing to wipe out the erroneous charges, but they never seem to know how they got there. Some hotels have a tracking system that shows who input certain charges, or receipts to back up other charges.

  19. Looking at the folio in this post, what are the negative charges on the 29th? It looks to me like they caught the error, reversed the charge for the movie, and then even reversed it again?

    Of my 90+ days spent in a hotel this year, this has never happened to me. I guess I’m just lucky.

    • Pat, I have no clue what all the charges in parenthesis mean but when you add it all up the movies were included in the total on the bill, which was the same that I was ultimately charged.

      Sounds like anyone not carefully checking their bills is costing themselves some real money!

  20. I NEVER leave a hotel property without a copy of the bill , before I leave ..especially on Reward stays

    Usually all is well, but I have seen them add parking, internet, etc

  21. I had an Aloft hotel charged me the amount they were billing Statwood on an award stay. They couldn’t figure out what had happened, as nothing showed up on the folio. Had to file a credit card dispute to have the charge removed.

  22. I am surprised this warranted more than a passing thought, much less a post. If you are seeing extra charges on 2/3 of your stays, either you are doing something wrong or you really need to consider changing properties.

  23. I have found the easiest way to get bills reversed is to send note by fax, seems to work better, quicker and more efficiently than phone calls and even emails. That’s my two cents.

  24. My cc info was hacked recently from a hotel wireless network. Chase called me to ask about the thousands of dollars of charged and refunded transactions in one day. Glad they caught it quickly, not pleased about this hotel, where I stay often for work, with no other choices nearby.

  25. Funny you mention this but last month (at a Hyatt Regency), I was charged $200 for food which I clearly did not order. Fortunately, I usually check my folio before checking out and caught the error (Internet charge is sometimes an issue so I always review).

  26. Guess I’ve been lucky, but I’ve very rarely had extra charges added to my bill (mostly SPG Plat, some Hilton Gold). The exception was a Hilton stay in London (at a high end property using a “weekend free night” cert) that mis-posted another guest’s $450 restaurant bill to my folio. Fortunately I caught it early and it was taken off promptly.

    I agree with the “dispute it with your credit card company” advice. I believe merchants are charged a fee for each dispute, above and beyond what they need to refund to the customer. But some credit card companies won’t handle disputed charges below a certain dollar level.

  27. On a cruise, I found a minibar charge on my account. Neither me nor my roommate ever opened the minibar so I went to the desk and they removed the charge.

  28. Kimpton in San Francisco tried to charge me for minibar use that is included in my “inner circle” status. And that I hadn’t used anyway. They took the charge off with no question when I phoned to complain.

  29. Stayed at a couple Sheraton properties in Tampa for the recent FTU and the Sheratown river walk charged me $25 for valet parking even though my car never went to valet and I parked it on the street two blocks away for free.

    Been also seeing lots of bogus mini bar and other charges in recent months. This definitely seems like a trend and a way to increase profits. Not a big deal if this was an honest mistake or an isolated incident but clearly this adds up to $100,000s of extra profits per property per year and that’s not ok. Anything we can do? Seems like filing chargebacks with your CC is not a bad plan but is there any way to prove this isn’t an accident and get this to stop?

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