Bill in Congress aims to end hidden mandatory fees for hotels, resorts, rentals

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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – If you’ve ever stayed at a hotel or resort, you might have needed to pay more than what you expected once you checked in, compared to when you first booked the room.

Whether you’re looking for a beach vacation or just a weekend away, you’ll likely go online to find the best deal on a hotel room. You choose a travel website and find a room for $69. It may seem like a nice deal, but when you go to book, the price jumps up to $106, $23 of that coming from “mandatory fees.”

Some Congressional lawmakers say a hotel may not even tell you about those fees until you check in.

“Do you like to be snuck and punched in the face?” asked Ashley Peoples-Dooley, who’s on vacation with her family from West Virginia. “No, I wouldn’t either. That’s what the fees are, so if you like being sucker punched in the face, then by all means, but we don’t.”

That’s why a bill called the Hotel Advertising Transparency Act was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. It would force all hotels, short-term rentals and travel websites to show the full cost of a room before taxes.

Resort and other mandatory fees would need to be included in that advertised price. ResortFeeChecker.com says about 75 hotels and resorts in the Myrtle Beach area have some kind of extra, mandatory fee.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Nebraska, are cosponsoring the bill. When they introduced the legislation, they said American travelers will spend about $3 billion on hidden fees this year.

Some Grand Strand visitors say all fees and prices should be firmly established before you pay.

“It’s in print,” said Tasha Peoples, who’s also visiting with her family from West Virginia. “It’s in black-and-white. You can’t go wrong when it’s in black-and-white, so I feel that’s fair.”

“It also helps when you’re coming to the resort,” said Robert Dooley, also on vacation from West Virginia. “You know exactly what you’re paying before you get here.”

“Especially for families on a budget,” added Peoples-Dooley.

“You come down and you think you’re going to pay one price and they take the other price,” said James Dodd, who stayed in Grand Strand hotels with his wife on trips for about 30 years before they recently moved to Myrtle Beach. “You might not get to eat for a couple days or you might have to go home a day early, cut your vacation short, which would make mama real unhappy.”

A spokesperson for Rep. Tom Rice, a Republican representing the Grand Strand in Congress, says he’s still reviewing the bill, which was introduced Wednesday.

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