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3 On Your Side: Hotels Charging Extra Fees

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Are you fed up with fees? First, the airlines made headlines by charging for things that used to be free. Then it was the banks. Now, more and more hotels are checking in on this free frenzy. In fact, a new study estimates hotels are expected to collect about $1.8 billion from extra fees and surcharges this year alone.

Frequent traveler Karon Gibson says she is fed up with hotel fees.

"I don't think it's fair sometimes, because you're already paying pretty high fees for hotel rooms," she says.

Gibson has been hit with fees to use the safe in her hotel room, resort fees even if she didn't use the gym or pool, fees to receive a fax, even a daily parking fee when she didn't have a car!

"I was pretty upset about that," Gibson says.

Upset because she checked into a hotel and checked out with a much higher bill than she expected.

"I find people are extremely mad about the situation," says Travel Expert Ian Ford.

Ford operates a website called the Undercover Tourist. He's seen fees at two star hotels to luxury hotels, and there's quite a range of costly charges, including: restocking fees ranging from $5 to $15 for just opening the mini bar, a bellman charge of $8 even if you carry your own luggage, even a $3.95 energy charge for using the air conditioning.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association says fees are increasing in part because hotels sometimes have to pay a third party to run the gym, operate the pool, provide internet access or other services.

"Unfortunately, we'd like to give away as much as we can, but the economics are that somebody has to pay for it when it's all said and done," says Joe McInerney with the Association.

So what can you do to avoid these fees? Call the hotel when you make your reservation and ask what they charge extra for, or check the hotel website. Some hotel loyalty programs give members breaks on the fees.

Also, be sure to check your bill carefully when you check out. It's easier to dispute a fee while you're still at the hotel. That's what Karon did, and she got the parking charge removed from her bill.

For more from the Undercover Tourist, click here.

For the study on hotel fees, click here.

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