Help! How to Avoid Erroneous Minibar Charges?

Oct 8th, 2006, 10:43 AM
  #1  
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Help! How to Avoid Erroneous Minibar Charges?

We are booked into a Palm Desert hotel which, on websites, has had at least 3 recent postings of charging patrons erroneously for minibar usage after they have checked out. According to the website postings, the hotel has refused to rectify the charges and credit card companies cannot help. We are locked into this hotel. What can we do at check-in to avoid this problem? What can we do if we are charged erroneously later?
golfette is offline  
Oct 8th, 2006, 10:49 AM
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Can a minibar be locked? Can you get it on the record at check-in that you don't want it, don't plan to use it?
suze is online now  
Oct 8th, 2006, 10:52 AM
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Hi golfette, if you do not want anything from the minibar refuse the key or the code. In other words make sure the hotel knows that you will not have access to the minibar. I did this some months ago at a SF Hotel as my grandson was with me and I didn't want the hassle of "discussing" whether he could drink a soda etc. due to the outrageous prices of items in the minibar.

If that is not possible then the only thing I can think of is to insist that a hotel employee check the minibar in your presence each day of your stay.

I have not encoutered this but I have read on USA Travel sometime back that some hotel minibars will compute a charge for the minibar if an item is moved just a tiny bit (done when a hotel guest wants to store something of their own in the minibar). Travelling is getting more and more complicated isn't it. Best wishes.
LoveItaly is offline  
Oct 8th, 2006, 10:53 AM
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Well suze guess "great minds" do work together LOL!! Have a great Sunday.
LoveItaly is offline  
Oct 8th, 2006, 11:25 AM
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Tell them that that you are diabetic and need space to store your insulin.
bobrad is offline  
Oct 8th, 2006, 11:34 AM
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We've checked into hotels and asked for our mini bar to be emptied. One hotel actually wanted to charge us to have it emptied. I nixed that idea. You don't have to allow people to walk all over you. If your credit card company attempts to not back you up, then ask for a supervisor, and put your demand in writing. They'll all back down because it's not worth the headache to them.
TTess is offline  
Oct 8th, 2006, 11:55 AM
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As soon as you check in, make a written inventory (or use their checklist) of everything that's there. Go to the front desk, present it to them, and tell them the hotel was a reputation for false charges for the mini bar and you want them to acknowledge the contents by signing it and tell them you want a copy.

I often refuse a key to the minibar and tell them at checkin I will not be responsible for it. I can't remember the last time I even looked in a minibar.
concernedposter is offline  
Oct 8th, 2006, 11:58 AM
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While your telling them that you want to mini-bar to be emptied or locked, you might ask to speak to the manager and let them know that the hotel has quite a bad reputation on some travel forums.
BTW- what hotel is it?
L84SKY is offline  
Oct 8th, 2006, 12:00 PM
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TC
 
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I've have found that letting them know either ahead of time (via email to the general manager) or at check in that you've read some very unflattering reports on the Internet about erroneous mini bar charges, give them the heads up that you're on to the game. This is usually enough to keep your own bill free of charges. Whenever I've written to a hotel manager regarding unflattering publicity, I find that we receive the best of care. Its as if they are trying hard to prove the posts wrong.
TC is offline  
Oct 8th, 2006, 03:01 PM
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Ah, the power of the internet!
L84SKY is offline  
Oct 8th, 2006, 03:09 PM
  #11  
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Thanks very much for all your responses. You've been a BIG help. I'm going to take all of your suggestions. You're all very resourceful people. Wish me luck!
golfette is offline  
Oct 9th, 2006, 02:59 AM
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Once, at a Crown Plaza in Manchester, England, I checked our hotel bill (on the TV screen) midweek just for the heck of it. I found that we had been charged for several items from the minibar - and knew that we had not consumed anything from it. I called the desk & they explained that if you move any of the items it signals the desk & bills you for the item. My daughter (a teenager who knew not to consume anything) had looked inside just to see what was in there. Sure enough, in the hotel directory, it told us that - but it would have been nice if they had told us when we checked in. They removed the charge & I had them come up & lock the fridge. We learned a lesson that day.
DebInTN is offline  
Oct 9th, 2006, 04:22 AM
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Not all minibars are electronic, but most are now, and work just as DebInTn describes. They were installed to be more accurate than manual records of minibar usage and less labor intensive. Otherwise an employee goes around with a cart and checks each room daily to see what has been used and needs replenishing. If something is taken out of the electronic minibars, you have x seconds to put it back, and if it is not returned, it registers electronically as having been consumed.

This is generally the reason for erroneous charges--not a ploy to get a couple dollars more from unsuspecting guests. Talking with my DH about it, he says they have very few complaints of erroneous charges. I think most people now are aware of how they work so are cautious about moving things around.

Actually it's a far better system than the manual method where human error in counts could result in charges to the wrong guest. Assume 1 night stays. Guest #1 drinks a Coke or eats a candy bar, but employee checking the mini bar that day doesn't see that, for whatever reason--his carelessness, or a Do Not Disturb sign on the door all day so he could not get in...whatever. That guest checks out, a new guest checks in the same day and the person checking the minibar after his stay does pick up on the candy bar or Coke gone...and charges it to #2 guest who was occupying the room at the time. The newer system was designed to eliminate these errors, not trick another charge out of a guest.
OO is offline  
Oct 9th, 2006, 04:43 AM
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I have also heard of a scam where the guest will drink any of the clear liquor (vodka, gin)and then fill the bottle back up with water,put the cap back on and push up the seal so at first glance from a mini bar attendant it will look full. The electronic way helps to put a stop to this.
No_name is offline  
Oct 9th, 2006, 05:15 AM
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OO...Thought of you when i was reading Christoper Elliott's column yesterday..Upon checking out of the NEW Grand Hyatt DFW recently, everything seemed to be shall we say normal...When she got her credit card bill, it reflicted an additional $222 charge slapped on after she left the hotel..."Excessive Cleaning Fee"....wont go into detail, but it was eventually resolved in her favor...took a long time tho..
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Oct 9th, 2006, 05:26 AM
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Wow! I'd love to hear the details!! That sort of thing doesn't happen very often at all and usually there is an excellent story to accompany it. There was one in Tampa that I recall and it truly was an excellent story.

Rarely they are "no story" incidents (some hotels are starting to charge excessive cleaning fees for non-smoking rooms having been smoked in), but usually it's something juicy.
OO is offline  
Oct 9th, 2006, 05:35 AM
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OO..Here's the link...scroll down to "Travel Troubleshooter mid-page
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcont.../vitindex.html
BeachBoi is offline  
Oct 9th, 2006, 05:41 AM
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Thanks BeachBoi. I found the website(curious cat that I am) and was enjoying some of the other articles, but hadn't come to yours yet. I'm headed out the door to class now, but will read it when I get back. I was going to ask you for the link if I couldn't find it, but you beat me to it.
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Oct 9th, 2006, 05:51 AM
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I'm reminded of the time we checked into the club level at the Grand Floridian in Disney World. I noticed a candy bar wrapper and a chips wrapper in the wastebasket. At the time I thought it was funny the maid hadn't emptied the wastebasket as all else was perfect. So I was only a bit suprised when I checked out to find a candy bar and a package of chips on my charges. I protested to the manager and explained we had even laughed about the wrappers in the trash when we arrived. They took it off the bill (as a courtesy) but meanwhile made it clear that we were undoubtedly lieing as the bar would have been checked after the maids were there. Since then I always look to see if there is anything missing or any wrappers or bottles in the trash.
NeoPatrick is online now  
Oct 9th, 2006, 05:54 AM
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GoTravel
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Yikes!

How do you get vomit on curtains?

golfette, easy, tell the front desk to keep the key and have them note this on your reservation.
 

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