Hyatt Cracks Down On Hotel Adding 3.5% Fee For Electricity In Your Room

Seeing One Mile at a Time note that the Hyatt Place Chicago has stopped adding 3.5% surcharges to guest folios for an ‘energy surcharge’ reminded me that a week ago I learned that this practice had ended, and that it was because Hyatt wouldn’t abide it.

A Hyatt spokesperson explained, “As soon as we were made aware of this situation, Hyatt worked with the hotel’s owners to look into the matter, and at this time, the hotel has removed this fee.”

While I wish hotel chains would uncover these things and police them on their own, it’s great when they are responsive to guests who flag the problems (who guests who flag them for bloggers who then ask about it).

Most of all it’s good to know that Hyatt considers this unacceptable, so we shouldn’t see the practice spread. And their cracking down on it means it would require just a little bit more gall for Marriott or Hilton to try it.

Original post follows:

Reader Bryce C shares that the Hyatt Place Chicago/O’Hare Airport is adding a 3.5% “energy surcharge” onto room rates.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the absurdity of an obscure independent property in Las Vegas charging extra for electricity. I didn’t expect this practice would actually be found at a major chain hotel. (Or if it did, come on, you had to figure it would be a Marriott, right?)

This is despicable on several levels:

  • This is disingenuous because it is not a tax or optional charge, it’s a cost that you must pay if you stay in the room and that is part of the rate.

  • This is fraudulent only purpose of charging separately, rather than including it in the rate, is to mislead consumers.

  • It’s possibly actionable because it is drip pricing, since the room costs more than what consumers are originally quoted.

At some point we have to ask: what does the room rate even cover if it doesn’t come with electricity?

There’s clearly no relationship between the power surcharge and the cost of power incurred by the room – there can’t be since the surcharge is a percentage of the room rate, surely guests don’t keep the lights on more on nights when the hotel charges more for the room. That makes it seem ripe for a lawsuit along the lines of the class action settlement with British Airways, because fuel surcharges weren’t related to the cost of fuel.

It seems to me that Hyatt needs to crack down on this practice. But even if they don’t, an add-on fee that isn’t a tax is essentially a resort or destination charge by another name — and under World of Hyatt rules at least Globalists should be exempt from paying it. I’ve reached out to Hyatt to get their take on the matter.

Bryce shared the story with One Mile at a Time, too, and Lucky over there is just as incensed.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This was pretty common amongst chain hotels in California in the early 2000s (though I recall the energy surcharges were fixed per night, not tied to room rates). There was indeed a class action lawsuit against Starwood- I remember getting some discount coupons in the mail as part of the settlement.

  2. “Hey Bart, remember the fuel surcharge? Well, it’s back… in hotel energy tax form.”

  3. If they did this to me, I would do a chargeback for 3.5% right there on my Hyatt card because, as you say, it’s probably actionable. I would probably win, too. Ridiculous. Electricity is implied. Period. It’s either part of the rate, or I’m camping. Hyatt is based in Chicago, too. Can’t believe they’re trying this at home.

  4. Its an insult especially as Hyatt is not only going to seasonal awards but giving dollar limits at many hotels now like they are at lesser brands.Very sad state of affairs when they need our business

  5. I just did a faux reservation on Rates quoted state prices are exclusive of 6% tax, 8% city tax. No mention of energy surcharge. Definitely actionable is booked through a 3rd party and not quoted in price or fine print.

  6. Maybe BA (fuel surcharges even when oil was $30 a barrel) bought this (crappy) hotel.

  7. KimmieA, I just tried one on the Hyatt app, and I definitely got the energy charge, but without a chance to opt out, it’s ridiculous. They ought to just increase the room rate if they want to. Of the three airport Hyatts, it’s the cheapest by quite a bit. I ran dummy bookings on the Regency and the Hyatt Rosemont (one L stop away), and neither gave me an “energy charge.”

  8. I’ve also seen restaurants starting to charge some BS fees too like “culinary” fees or employee fees. I know its not their fault, but I tip lower when I see that and let the server know. Sorry for being an A-hole but your owner is a sleazy A-hole for bait and switch fees. Only people who can fight these fees are the employees who have the owners ear. If employees know they aren’t getting tipped because the owners decide to line their own pockets with hidden fees, then we can end them for all.

  9. Not a hotel fee, but I was recently charged a 2% Covid and cleaning fee, at an upscale restaurant in Rocklin, CA, disclosed in small print at the bottom of the menu. I guess they weren’t cleaning much, before the Virus arrived? Coming next? A charge for providing silverware and/or dishes, although I’ve not seen a separate charge for to-go containers. For anyone interested, the Italian restaurant is located in the Galleria of Rocklin.

  10. How much will they charge us for water? (Toilets/sinks/showers)

    I’ll tell you if I was surcharged 3.5% for water (and even electricity) I’d leave all taps wide open and every light in my room would be on all day and night !

    It’s Hogwash what all these companies are doing to us during this pandemic!

  11. In May, this property had the “clean energy charge” on folios. What a scam.

    This property had gone cheap with airport shuttle bus service during even May of this year, with a bunch of hours in the middle of the day during the workweek not having any airport shuttle bus service.

    How has breakfast been at this property in recent months?

  12. Just cancelled my Hyatt account. Enough is Enough! Set a hotel rate and stop playing games! 🙁

  13. I’ve been staying at this property for years. I think my first was within 2 months of when they opened the doors.

    They were the first, and I believe the only, Hyatt Place to charge me for parking. I would believe this is normal, but they aren’t super airport convenient, their shuttle is not 24/7, and they’re a very downscale brand that offered free breakfast for all stays when they first opened.

    It’s always seemed to me like local ownership and management didn’t want to put up the funds for a prime location and franchise, but wanted the ROI of one. It’s unfortunate that Hyatt allows the place to continue in this way, especially in their hometown.

    In the meantime, I’ll continue booking the Regency and Rosemont whenever feasible.

  14. While Illinois is a de-regulated state for retail electricity sales, I doubt this hotel is registered/licensed as an electricity provider with the ICC regulatory entity, which would allow them to legally sell you electricity. That alone should make their charge illegal.

  15. @flying while high again on drugs:
    Yeah, Biden had a lot to do with this. Keep flying high on drugs, moron!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. +1 DWT! I remember those Energy Surcharges, the class-action suit, and resulting coupon. It was when the price of oil had gone sky-high!

  17. If the government included these destination fees, energy fees, credit card fees, etc. in the base for calculating hotel and sales tax, they would end quickly.

  18. I call BS that Hyatt wasn’t “aware of this situation”. It was listed as a fee on their own booking engine!

  19. This is the hotel version of unbundling. I wondered how long it would take for hotels to adopt the scam the airlines have been getting away with for years. How about separate charges for maid service, TV, phones, bath amenities, etc.

    If Hyatt really says fie to this fee, it will require refunds.

  20. Marriott has yet to contact me about refunding the bogus $30 daily fee for redeeming points at JW Marriott Cabo San Lucas. Will they ever?

  21. Gary Leff asks, “At some point we have to ask: what does the room rate even cover if it doesn’t come with electricity?”

    At Marriott and Hyatt properties, your room rate covers the cost of free-range bedbugs.

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