Extended Stay America has had a customer-friendly policy dating back years of not charging for local calls. They’ve advertised this since when in-room phone revenue was a thing (before everyone had cell phones with unlimited domestic calling) and the chain stills promote ‘free local calls’ on their website.
Yet for several months they’ve been charging for local calls, a $1 per call ‘connect fee’ (that’s actually $1 plus tax). One reader tells me that the hotel they’re staying at promised the fee wouldn’t apply to 800 numbers, but they were automatically charged for these anyway.
The Extended Stay America website still says they offer free local calls on at least one page (emphasis mine).
Extended Stay America provides the business and leisure traveler with more than just a hotel room. All suites come equipped with a full-size kitchen, free in-room Wi-Fi, free local phone calls and personalized voicemail. The hotels also provide free grab-and-go breakfast, on-site laundry facilities, pet friendly accommodations, and at select locations, pools and fitness centers.
Yet when I reached out to the chain to ask them the policy, I was told “$1.00 per call will be charged for local and long distance.”
They haven’t explained to me the disconnect between their policy and their marketing (including statements currently still on their website) and the lack fo communication with customers about the changes.
No doubt they’d blame ‘the pandemic’ but the best available science suggests that the virus doesn’t spread through telephone lines and this isn’t marketed as a fee for cleaning the telephone. Instead it’s a hidden charge meant to extract additional revenue from unsuspecting guests.
Credit: M.O. Stevens via Wikimedia Commons
The North Carolina-based long-stay chain operates approximately 625 hotels and is largely owned by Blackstone and Paulson & Co. and 6.5% by Starwood Capital.