Last month I learned that the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort was charging guests a 2% fee to pay by credit card. Marriott literally has its own branded credit cards and this franchise was charging guests more to pay with one of their Marriott Chase Visa cards or Marriott American Express cards than to pay with cash.
Within 45 minutes of flagging the issue for Marriott, I was told that the chain was in the process of ensuring that the property ceased the practice.
The hotel no longer charges a 2% fee to pay by credit card. They are charging a 1% fee fee to pay by credit card instead. A reader shared a folio on checkout from this property Tuesday morning.
To be clear this surcharge is not about the cost of processing credit card transactions. It’s a way to squeeze guests for a surprise extra charge that adds up across every guest room every night. Guests didn’t bring checks with them on their trip, and aren’t going to go through the hassle of finding an out of network ATM while on vacation.
Indeed, when a guest pays by credit card the hotel doesn’t risk making incorrect change, doesn’t have to store cash at the front desk, doesn’t risk employee theft, and doesn’t have to deal with depositing large sums of cash at the bank. Credit cards save the hotel money, not to mention the 10-figure credit card deal Marriott has with its issuer banks.
Credit: Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort
That this hotel can continue to get away with fleecing guests for weeks after Marriott committed the practice would end highlights exactly what’s become wrong with Marriott over the past several years.
Marriott was known above all for consistency. They didn’t promise a lot, they always delivered a highly consistent product. Since acquiring Starwood that’s flipped. They rolled out a loyalty program that promises a lot more than Hilton does. But it’s on-the-ground delivery from hotels where they fall short, every hotel seems to do whatever it wishes with little standards enforcement at the chain level.
The Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort isn’t even alone adding a credit card surcharge in Marriott’s system. The Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay, Westin Denarau Resort Fiji, and Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort all list 3% credit card surcharges on the Marriott website, and the chain hasn’t yet explained whether these properties have been given special dispensation to do so.