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Monday, September 13, 2010

My rant against the "just do the math" argument

I liked this.  Mostly I stay calm, but somehow.  I don't know.  I guess that I wonder how long I'm going to have to say the same thing until someone takes notice.
Anyway, thought I'd cut and paste it here:

From this thread if you want the whole conversation:
No one here in this thread has been arguing much that doing the math isn't wise. Sometimes purists do make that argument. They made it to M and M backed off the resort fee. 
No one can predict what angry protest might accomplish.
But I don't hear a lot of it lately.
I am pragmatic as you suggest and know many others who are as well.
However, to suggest this is easy math because all the sites offer this information is just wrong. Many sites don't offer it. Many casinos offer very confusing information even when you call them. I was caught by the Gold Spike raising the resort fee in between booking and arrival. I would not have known had I been average tourist. I caught it because I am alert to all the changes around resort fees. Had I been an average tourist, I would not have known until check in.
It would be nice if the math were just 1+1 = 2, but then there would be no need for resort fees at all. The point of the fine print trick and confuse strategy is to lie about what it costs to rent the room. 
Many, many people book on discount broker sites. Those don't give this information in their figures.
Many people read the news when it lists the rates of places. These don't report resort fees.
This year in two month reports from a paid gambling site there were articles ranking casino rates that put El Cortez fifth when they should have been first.

Even the list we have the link to here does not give all the information, nor of the four I have on my site is any single list accurate and complete.
The math is fuzzy math because no one really knows the numbers, and if the rooms are comped the issue becomes even more unclear.

I asked about the resort fee. The clerk asked me how I was booked. I explained I had not booked yet, I was just trying to understand the resort fee. Well, it really depended on how I booked she explained. Well, I said, just tell me two ways to book in which a fella might avoid the resort fee. No, she said, she could not do that.
When I got caught in the Gold Spike business, I was booked and the fee was raised. I asked if I was grandfathered in and she said if I had booked using"Hotmail" that I was. Well I had booked using another discounter (sorry the name escapes me, maybe hotel.com) so I figured I wasn't grandfathered. I changed bookings only to find out here on the board that the other discounter was owned by hotmail and so another fellow in my situation was grandfathered in and did not have to pay the resort fee.
Had either of us booked directly with Gold Spike, then we would be charged the fee.
well... that is what the girl said, but some here had booked that was and were not.
When Circus Circus came up on the Vegas.com site as having a resort fee, I called. The clerk said that there was no fee. I said that Vegas.com said there was. She said no. I wrote Vegas.com and they said they had information that there was and so it was like that in their chart. I called back to Circus Circus and no there was no fee she said. Well, I asked if a fee was instated would I be grandfathered in if I booked that day. No, the clerk said, I'd have to pay it. And would they tell me? No, she said.
In thread after thread I hear this 1+1=2 argument. Sometimes it indicates that folks who are angry at this fine print shuffle deception are somehow too stupid to do simple math and if they would just wise up, why the whole issue would not be worth thinking about. 
Tax means that it is never 1+1, but at the best 1+ 1 and maybe another 12 or 13 percent of the second 1, we don't know for sure. 
I called Venetian, for example, researching this issue. 
Listen, the math is too fuzzy to pin down to do. So it needs to be done on the phone when we book, and again when we get written confirmation and again when we confirm well ahead of time so there are still deals out there, and again just before we go, and even then there may very well be a new resort fee or a raised fee to contend with when we arrive.

Or maybe there won't be any fee when we expect one.
My last trip the math said that a $5 resort fee at Orleans and a $3 f ee at the Gold Coast still made free and cheap sense in room bargains. 
So I booked. 
But No fee was charged. None at either place in spite of the math telling me in all their publication that there would be a fee. In spite of me being reminded when I confirmed at the Orleans.
I did not want to make a stink about not being charged a fee, but I did ask at the Gold Coast just to try and understand how I might do the same thing again. Well, she told me that the person who took my reservation made a mistake. 
I made the reservation on line at B Connected. No person took it.
So in that case 1+1 was equal to..... well.... 1. New math.

For those of you angry enough about this to just book somewhere else, I admire your idealism, i think that you ought to be admired. Perhaps you will change the tide.
I have to say that the Spike raising the resort fee put a bad taste in my mouth and that was all part of the utility of my decision to cancel and not book there. I just did not like being charged more than what I had contracted for, math or no math.
And I don't like fine print bullies. Charge me the price! Figure out what it is and let me know upfront what the math is, clearly and not hidden in some fine print. the new Rumor Suites does that right on the booking sheet just like Amazon does with shipping charges, before I commit.
And quit tricking the newbies! I want to be able to say to people that Vegas is a fine place to visit where they'll be taken care of and just to watch the gambling as that is mostly rigged against them. I'm tired of telling them first about the resort fees and then about how to check the room for bed bugs. By the time I'm done, a lot of them decide just to stay home. Most of them don't want a vacation that annoys them and makes them work through a series of mathematical puzzles delivered at odd times in fine print. They can stay home and figure out their bills and tax strategies if they want to do that and save the airfare. 
I heard a show on NPR this week that said that in Massachusettes some grocery stores were fined heavily because they did not follow the law and put a clear price on every bit of canned goods sold. Seems those folks in Massachusettes figure that they ought to be able to see how much the beans cost before they stand in the check out line. 
All I want from Vegas hotels is that same respect they give the folks who buy beans in Massachusttes. Transparency up front. No tricks.
In the meantime I find I gotta call the casino repeatedly just to find out what the price is


Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that no one has raised the question in respect of Resort fees if they are illegal, I'm sure that if the fees were implicated in London hotels they would be illegal for the reason being, why pay for something you clearly would not be using, I.e senior citizens using the gymn, or not havi g brought a laptop or I phone with you, also not stating the fee at time of booking especially if it's a package holiday
Mrs M Sheppard U K

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that no one has raised the question in respect of Resort fees if they are illegal, I'm sure that if the fees were implicated in London hotels they would be illegal for the reason being, why pay for something you clearly would not be using, I.e senior citizens using the gymn, or not havi g brought a laptop or I phone with you, also not stating the fee at time of booking especially if it's a package holiday
Mrs M Sheppard U K

Dewey said...

I do not really know the details behind any legal challenges, but there were some that I encountered in my reading and the customer was the winner.
This did not happen in Vegas.
I also expect that the reason why there is a list of amenities attached to the fees, like parking and pool, serves to satisfy one legal issue by giving something for the money, even if it is a bogus gift that everyone gets for free.
what we need more than litigation is law. It would be very simple to insist that all hotel charges appear in the initial calculated hotel charge and appear upfront.
However, the reality of politics here in this country is that corporate America basically controls the political will of the people. Until folks ask for protection rights little change will happen.

FleaStiff said...

I too am a great believer in full and frank prior disclosure. The Room costs X-dollars ... and no fine print or footnotes.

However, Travel Sites such as Expedia rank hotels based on price and not based on the sum total of price plus resort fee. So there is an economic incentive for the hotels to lie (or atleast be less forthright).

All we need is standardized quotes so that no one has a competitive advantage or disadvantage.

Hotels just anger people with these Resort Fees for inhaling the hotel's air during your stay!