New Frontier In Scam Hotel Fees: Fairmont Whistler Charges Extra Fee To Pay Their Other Extra Fee

Guests of the Fairmont Whistler in Canada are required to pay a fee to help cover housekeeping wages, separate from their room rate. And the hotel charges guests an additional fee to manage this fee.

Here’s the policy on the hotel’s website,

Housekeeping Surcharge:
We will charge an additional mandatory daily Housekeeping Surcharge of $5.00 CAD per room, plus applicable taxes, for Housekeeping services, of which $4.50 CAD is a gratuity that is distributed to the housekeeping team and the remaining $0.50 CAD is retained entirely by the Hotel (and not distributed as wages, tips or gratuities to any Hotel employee). We will post the mandatory daily surcharge, plus applicable taxes, in the same billing arrangements manner as requested for applicable room and tax charges. This surcharge may change from time to time without notice.

Live and Let’s Fly, who first flagged this charge, says “housekeeping is no longer included in your room?”

That’s one way to look at it, but in reality it is included in your room because the charge is not optional. It’s just:

  1. A way of hiding how much the hotel really charges. When you compare rates, especially on comparison sites like Expedia, the true (full) cost of the room is hidden. That makes the hotel look less expensive than competitors.

  2. A way of charging guests more than the price they’ve been quoted. Guests expect to pay the room rate, but every night is several dollars more.

  3. A way of passing through the hotel’s expenses onto the guest, which of course we normally think is that the room rate is for.

In other words, it is fraud. And adding insult to injury, in addition to charging CAD$4.50 per night ‘passed through to housekeepers’ to cover their salaries, the hotel charges an additional fifty Canadian cent administration fee to pay the hotel to manage the scam.

Fairmont Whistler is hardly alone is adding mandatory scam fees, like an extra charge for using the lamps in your guest room. What is innovative here, to me, is charging a scam fee for the service of charging you a scam fee.

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. Hopefully one day it will be required to post the total costs of a product in all advertisements. Airlines, hotels, and rental car companies are all terrible at giving the full price.

  2. Let’s refuse the service. Guest need to say NO STOP IT write cancel fee on the bill the clerks do not know what to do. Refuse to pay Let them call the cops. It is a civil matter.

  3. I checked out of an unrelated hotel this morning where the cost was $2,800 for four nights. I called to have my copious (5) bags brought down in the AM for check out and when I called they said that they had no one to bring them down. When I mentioned that I wished they had someone to help, they said they knew it was a problem but they would waive the 5% supplemental service fee! I was like whuuuut? That 143 dollars for 4 nights and you don’t have bag service??????

  4. Fortunately in many european countries the price you see online is the actual final price you pay. Shocking that in USA so much scamming . shows how ineffective the consumer protection agencies are .

  5. Unfortunately, Canadians are learning from US republicans.

    And even more unfortunate is that many of the same people that are outraged by these scams continue to vote republican, when President Biden and Democrats are trying to put a stop to it.

    I guess not allowing scammers to get away with their scams is a European/Democrats socialist thing…

  6. @Josh: “Guests of the Fairmont Whistler ——in Canada —— are required to pay a fee to help cover housekeeping wages, separate from their room rate.”

    This hotel is in Canada, not

  7. Gary – first of all it is NOT FRAUD if disclosed at time of booking. I’m sure all the taxes and fees are displayed before you actually make the reservation. Also, I disagree somewhat with your reasoning for why hotels have these fees. To me there are 2 reasons (and only 2 reason):

    – To make the rate look more attractive and draw in people (although anyone in 2024 that doesn’t click the “show all taxes and fees” box or carefully look at the total before booking the room deserves what they get.
    – As importantly, I bet there are tax advantages to not having the fees included in the base room rate. Just like with airlines, while add on fees irritate a lot of people, the main reason is usually tax avoidance.

    I disagree that anyone should expect to just pay the “room rate” at any US or Canadian hotel. Maybe in Europe or Asia where taxes are included in the supply chain but in the US there are almost always taxes that typically add 10-15% to the room rate so this is just another fee. Also, I disagree they are trying to get guests pay for something the hotel should cover – that is ALREADY HAPPENING. Again, IMHO, taxes and search engine order are why these are not in base rate, not to get guest to pay.

    BTW for those that say “don’t pay” you don’t have that choice so suck it up and live with it. Making petty things major is pathetic Gary to get clicks. If they simply raised the room rate $5 you wouldn’t say anything and it is net the exact same thing!

  8. @AC – I am making an ethical claim, not a claim about Canadian law. It is disclosed on the property’s website. It is not disclosed when you’re comparing rates between different hotels in the market. And people have become accustomed to taxes being added onto a price, not part of the price being added onto the price. Drip pricing is certainly false advertising.

  9. These additional fees are=, or can be, absolutely ridiculous. Hotels are not quite as bad as airlines (yet), but creeping there.

    A recent Air Canada quote for a business class ticket to Toulouse indicated the “fare” as $1,922 with a “carrier surcharge” of $1,830 …. misleading beyond belief, and simply a way for the carriers to avoid paying commission on half of their revenue.

  10. @AC, if that attitude of “you don’t have the choice so suck it up and live with it” is extended to other questionable practices, soon we will all be living in a society where, if something is not banned/prohibited outright, it can be assumed that it’s fair game.

    What this brings to mind is the Chinese baby food manufacturer that was putting plastic – powdered melamine – in baby food, as a filler. Because there was no language specifically prohibiting the action, it was assumed to be okay to do so.

    Let’s just extend this concept to everything in our lives and see what happens.

  11. Scam fees are out of hand. I stayed at the LAX Embassy Suites for 1 night. On checkout from the Hilton site, a slew of fees and a total was listed. As you say, what can I do, I just agreed & booked it. I was in a hurry on checkout, and didn’t go over the folio but felt something was off. The loser hotel had added an additional fee ‘LA ORD fee’ of like $12-$13. NOWHERE was this fee disclosed. I did a fake booking of this hotel again to see if this was a new fee that would show up, but it didn’t show up at the rebooking (direct on Hilton site). Timely, Gary had just run an article about LA county imposing some new fees onto hotels — this is not a fee imposed on guests, but on hotels. When I called the hotel and complained about the undisclosed fee, the person told me THAT THE HOTEL HAD THE RIGHT TO ADD WHATEVER FEES THEY WANTED AFTER THE FACT, IT’S IN THE SMALL PRINT. OMG! I asked to speak to the manager. He tried to say it was a new mandatory fee that LA was imposing, but I clarified and said yes, it’s a new fee but imposed on hotels, not on hotel guests, and that you, the hotel, was choosing to charge the guest a fee that was not disclosed to me & still was not being disclosed when booking the hotel. He refunded the fee. $41.93 of taxes & fees on a $182 room rate. I guess that’s still below NYC(??) so nothing to complain about, right?

  12. Maybe I’m the only one but stuff like this is why I travel much less than I would. I don’t want to waste my time research each hotel and what, if any, fees they add on or services they removed. This stuff started to annoy me about 15 years ago when the Hyatt Regency in Scottsdale started charging for parking despite having a huge parking lot and wasn’t anywhere in the city. I would go over there since it was 10 minutes from my house and have a drink and listen to the music but then you had to deal with getting a parking ticket validated and then the machine often didn’t work. I moved on to places less annoying.

    Then Vegas started adding fees but wouldn’t disclose them on your booking unless you clicked on the small print which led to a pdf file you had to read to find out the price didn’t include a mandatory fee of $x.

    Unfortunately too many people continue to frequent these places and governments look the other way.

  13. I hate all types of mandatory surcharges but it’s important to understand what rights you do and don’t have. If the fee is disclosed when you made the reservation, you probably have to pay it, although if it isn’t disclosed in the beginning of the process it could be deceptive advertising; this is a legal gray area. As a practical matter you can’t just refuse to pay at checkout since you have already given the hotel the right to charge your credit card. And even if you haven’t, it’s not necessarily just a civil matter, as many places have laws making it a crime to not pay a hotel bill.

    A charge for housekeeping has an added complication: Some hotels have now eliminated daily cleaning, as most rental condos and airbnbs have always done, and in my opinion that is a reasonable choice as long as it’s disclosed. So if they want to charge for optional daily cleaning, that seems OK too. But it should be optional.

    I think the best approach is to view this as a customer service matter. If you feel a charge is unreasonable or wasn’t properly disclosed at the right time, argue with the desk agent, manager, and if necessary national management. Make these annoying surcharges painful for the hotel.

  14. 20 years ago, staying at a resort in Cabo…a small amount ($1.50-$2.00) was added per day that went as a tip to housekeeping. I did not have a problem with this even though I always leave a tip in the room at check out.
    I agree that hidden fees are out of control. I changed my mind on a Hawaiian trip when I realized the room rates were actually about double what was originally advertised.
    The $5 fee mentioned here is a tip, not part of paying the wages. If you can afford the price of a room in Whistler you should not have a problem with this.

  15. No good for individual travel; but If you are booking a group meeting or event at a hotel you absolutely MUST use a professional meeting planner to write your contract. We know all
    of the “scams” , additional fees and charges and how to make sure you do NOT have to pay them.

    This happens when sourcing and booking the hotels, not afterwards.

  16. Any mandatory fees are bull. If it’s mandatory, it should be included in the room rate, full stop!!

    They are including verbiage that $4.50 is for staff and $0.50 is a service charge for 2 reasons. 1) OTAs charge 10% commission so on $4.50 there is a $0.45 fee and 2) in the province this Fairmont is in, it is law that no portion of pooled tips can go to the business, so they are stating that $4.50 is a pooled tip and $0.50 goes to cover their commission. That said, still bull.

  17. It is fraud abd it is a scan. Tgey lie about their prices to attract business under false pretenses. If tge lie to us about yhe orice, why believe what they say about anything?

  18. Restaurants are doing the same deal, charging a 20% gratuity to final bills. The explanation is it’s to cover the cost of wages amongst the employees. It does not cover the tip a diner would normal tip their server. If you add the tip onto the bill it too goes into the “general gratuity” pot and is divided, so you have to separately tip your server with either cash or a cash app type pmt. No issue with tipping the server, but a flat out 20% gratuity regardless of the party size; and it being use to cover wage cost that the employer continues to not want to pay its employees…

  19. I stayed recently in Oklahoma, USA. Saw the sign at check in about the $1.50 per night charge for the safe in my room. Which I could get removed if not used. No word about the $5 a day housekeeping charge that I got on the final.bill. Fortunately they removed it when I complained. I had already left my tip for housekeeping in the room.

  20. Wonder how many people simply “scan and assume”. The add-on charge is the equivalent of a gratuity. Many guests leave a tip for housekeeping but of course, not all. This policy eliminates that discrimination and the funds collected are distributed amongst ALL housekeeping staff.
    Many restaurants show on the bill “service added”. Obviously, you don’t add a gratuity to THAT bill nor should you if a housekeeping tip is on your bill.

  21. Restaurant tipping
    I am in the hotel integrity business hired to secretly rate and evaluate the service, food and presentation for the hotel manager.
    When it comes to paying the bill I always leave 20% more if the service has been exceptional but my calculation of tipping is based on the amount without the GST or pst or added taxes.
    In other words I don’t tip 20% on taxes that would totally be ridiculous to tip the government but that’s what most people unwittingly do.
    Tip Trudeau if you want, not me !!!

  22. American hotel chains own half the world’s hotel rooms and have raised the rates and added extra fees faster than any other company.
    Marriott is the largest hotel company in the world by number of rooms, with a whopping 1.5 million rooms in its portfolio. Based in Bethesda, Maryland, the company operates over 8,500 properties and 31 brands in 138 countries.

    In 2022, its annual revenue was 20.77 billion USD, a 50% increase from 2021. The company continues to pursue an aggressive growth strategy.,Today.,a%2050%25%20increase%20from%202021.

  23. Actually, “adding insult to injury” isn’t the fact the hotel is keeping the additional $0.50 for themselves, it’s that fact that they are only distributing $4.50 CAD as a gratuity to the housekeeping team! The word team implies more than one individual so they are divvying up the paltry sum to the employees who literally do the dirty work.

  24. I can’t help wondering how long before hotels quote a room price and then add a “bed fee”, or a “restroom fee” in addition to the mandatory resort fee that is changed if you use what that covers or not.
    I think the one ( that I know of) are the hotels that brag about no resort fee but add a facilities fee.

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