A Non-Obvious Reason You Should Double Check Your Hotel Folio

There are certain bad habits that many road warriors develop over the years. For me, one of those habits is that I rarely check out of a hotel. At least that’s true when I’m checking out of a U.S. hotel where I didn’t have any incidental charges.

There are several good reasons you should always check your folio, like making sure you weren’t incorrectly charged for minibar consumption, internet access, breakfast, etc.

Despite those reasons, sometimes I don’t look at the folio quite closely enough. Take my stay at the Aloft Boston Seaport on Thursday night, for example. I love Aloft hotels. I know it sounds weird, but I really like them — they’re by far my favorite limited service hotel brand.

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At around 2AM on Friday morning I received a folio from the hotel by email showing all my charges (as is the norm at many hotels). I opened it on my iPhone when I woke up, saw it just had the room charge and some taxes, and figured it was correct.

Later in the day I received another “updated and final folio” by email, as is often sent out after check-out time. Typically it’s the same thing, and often I don’t even open it, though I did this time around.

aloft

It looked the same as the previous folio I received, though something didn’t quite seem right. The rate showed as $151 before tax, for a total of $173. While I didn’t off the top of my head remember the rate I booked, I knew it was less than that. So I checked my original reservation, and saw that my rate should have been $127 pre-tax.

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Fortunately I have an awesome SPG Ambassador, so I just forwarded the folio to him and asked if he had an idea of why there would be a discrepancy. He explained that it looked like the hotel had accidentally charged me for the room I had been upgraded to, and promised to get it fixed.

The fact that I was charged for a more expensive room is a funny story in and of itself. I used the SPG Keyless check-in option for the hotel, and headed straight up to my room…

aloft-hotel-1

Shortly after arriving at the room I got a call from the front desk apologizing and saying that they had an upgraded room for me, but didn’t catch me before I checked in, since I was using the keyless option. So they brought me a key for the new room.

aloft-hotel-2

I moved rooms, though unfortunately the heat didn’t work in that room (and it was well below freezing).

After maintenance had a look, I had to switch rooms again. Except the key slot for that room didn’t work…

It’s one thing to be incorrectly be charged for the room you were upgraded to, but to be charged for an “upgraded” room I didn’t even stay in due to the heat not working…

Bottom line

I always scan folios for extras, though tend to assume that the actual rate shown is correct. However, clearly that’s not always the case. I’ve had this happen a couple of times before with Hyatt, in cases where I applied a Diamond Suite Upgrade, and the hotel tried to charge me the cost of the suite, which can be a difference of several thousand dollars. At least in this case it was a fairly small difference.

So keep an eye on those folios, and not just for additional charges, but also for incorrect room rates.

Have you ever discovered you were charged an incorrect room rate after the fact?

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. There’s also the case with SPG that if you amend a reservation to a lower rate sometimes the new rate is replaced with the old one at checkin. Always worth to check that also and if rebooking to cancel and book a new reservation if possible.

  2. Hey Ben how do you get access to a SPG ambassador? That’s great to have someone to help you out like that. I’ve stayed 75 nights at SPG this year.

  3. The Aloft Seaport and the Element next door are great for conferences! They were built at the same time and it seems like they have a lot of technical problems with the rooms. When I stayed at the Element in June, The A/C in my room was stuck at full blown and it was 57 F in the room when I got in after dinner. The engineer who came at midnight said they had lots of glitches to repair.

  4. @ Applejax — SPG Ambassador service is a perk if you earn at least 100 elite qualifying nights in a year. 🙂

  5. @appleJax, you need 100 nights to get an SPG ambassador.

    Here’s another tip. Check your credit card statement. Your hotel bill may be correct, but you may have been charged the wrong currency. I checked out of the ITC Mughal in Agra, India which is an SPG Luxury Collection hotel a few weeks ago and my bill was correct. I signed the credit card slip and indicated to be charged in Rupees.

    Now I have a USD charge which is approx 5% higher than the INR rate due to the bank’s choice of FX rate. I don’t stay 100 nights at Starwoods, so I cannot just call up an SPG Ambassador to fix this, but now I must send an credit card authorization, credit card image and photo id copy to resubmit the correct charge. An annoyance for an otherwise nice stay.

  6. This exact thing happened to me at the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver. Charged for upgraded room. Manager at desk had such a hard time getting my real rate to re-appear that he just gave me a credit of some sort to level things out.

  7. Also good idea to count the change when you pay by cash when buying something from a road side vendor. I think that deserves an article to remind people how important that is.

  8. I recently was overcharged by over $400 on room rate by Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. I was in a basic room and they were trying to charge me a rate that was over their advertised rate for their larger suites. Despite me having a reservation confirmation with the correct rates, I’m still having to go through my credit card to get a refund. I’m pretty sure most people would have noticed such a large discrepancy without checking their folio, but noticing it before hand did allow me to spend hours on the phone with various customer service entities and arguing at the front desk before discovering I just had to pay the larcenous rate and get a refund later…

  9. I’ve had “mistakes” on hotel billing for European hotels which can be a real mess to clean up after the fact. I confirm the rate on check in and I personally check out with the front desk and review final charges. Odd thing is, the mistakes always benefit the hotels! One has to wonder how many folks don’t challenge billing errors.

  10. The same thing happened to me in US Grant hotel san diego, I had been upgraded because I booked through SPG Luxury privileges. But I managed it during the checkout process and they charge me the original rate.

  11. I recently had a rate mistake at the Aloft New Orleans on a room booked through Citi Prestige’s “4th night free” program. Not sure how the rate in SPG’s system ended up $40/night higher than the rate in my Citi Prestige confirmation. Fortunately, the front desk manager issued me a credit with no hassle after I showed her the Citi confirmation.

    Askmrlee – you are a victim of the DCC (Dynamic Currency Conversion) scam. The merchant gives you the “option” of paying in USD (“for your convenience”) or local currency. If you choose USD, an extra 3-7% commission is added to your bill. You can protest this with your credit card company with reason code for “incorrect currency” or similar.

  12. I think it’s always best practice to officially check out of a hotel room for a few different reasons. Instead of waiting on line at the front desk, I call down a few minutes before I’m ready to leave, to review my final bill by phone & ask them to email it to me, and ask to be checked out at that time – allowing me to bypass the front desk while also notifying them that the room is vacant so that housekeeping can clean/prep it for the next guests. I feel that this is especially important when I’ve been given a late checkout & there may be someone else who is waiting to be able to check in!

  13. I just had a disagreement with Hotel Tonight over a folio discrepancy. I use the app often as my work takes me to various cities and my engagements there have no fixed end times. So I’ll often find myself in a taxi realizing I need a hotel room for the night. I’m almost the perfect customer for HT and I really like their UX and the app design.

    That said, I recently booked a room and was surprised to receive a folio with a $40 “service fee” on it. The hotel told me to talk to HT and wouldn’t budge. HT told me the charge was mentioned in the hotel description and sure enough, there it was in the last line item of amenities.

    My argument was that, on an app predicated on ease and speed, adding this right at the bottom of a block of copy is pretty shady. The design and function of HT assumes you’re NOT reading the fine print and simply want to get from choosing a hotel to booking it as quickly as possible. It’s the entire reason for being of the interface and design. Additionally, knowing the hotel routinely charges this service fee, why not simply include that in the booking price? I thought the whole thing was very sneaky.

    I asked HT to credit my account on good faith. I’d learned my lesson and I’d be happy to read the fine print next time if they would chalk this up to fault on both parties. They bluntly refused, so I’m using the Hotels.com app from here on out for any last minute bookings. It’s not the $40. It’s the principle.

  14. As a courtesy to future guests please check-out of your room.

    Once a hotel knows you have left they can send housekeepers to your room straight away and prepare it for any early arrival guests. If you don’t check-out housekeeping assume you are still in the room and can’t start cleaning it until your check-out time, and with status that could be quite late. It’s the difference between the next guest being checked in by 11am after a red eye or 3pm.

  15. It goes without saying that checking the bill on checkout is important. However, it is only the first step. One must also check diligently with your credit card and rewards plan to check that the proper rewards were credited.

    I have stayed in Hilton and Marriott hotels in North America, Europe, Bali and South Africa this year and have had 15 out of 60 stays incorrectly reported to HHonors and Marriott Rewards respectively. I am still fighting with the Conrad in Bali for an incorrectly recorded stay in April – problem being their 30% down special offer which was not correctly reported on the final checkout – only the final 70% payment. They also missed 4 nights on the stay credit (now important with the new DFL rules).

  16. W Bulkhead Atlanta is notorious on this.
    I still waiting for business office to call me back for recent incident last week. I called several times and left a vm.

  17. I’ve fortunately not hit this yet, but do be aware of areas where tourist taxes/fees are optional. There are a couple of off-airport locations which I’ve had to correct as I didn’t arrive by plane, therefore not required to pay the airport charges. Similar, in Ontario, some establishments charge optional marketing fees. These fees go straight to the business, none to the government.

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