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I booked a hotel room online for £82 but was told afterwards there would be a £44 cleaning fee: Is it allowed to do this?
- Travelers may find that booking sites add on fees after a reservation is made
- The CMA has previously investigated additional costs not being advertised
- Consumers are advised to read the small print when making a booking
I booked a hotel apartment room for two in Kensington next May through Booking.com.
The room costs £82 for one night. However, I received an email from the booking platform a few days later saying it had forgotten to add on the cleaning fee.
This fee was £44 – more than half the cost of the actual stay itself.
I haven’t paid yet as I think this is very unfair. Can it add on these charges afterwards and should it have told me upfront?
Some customers are being charged extra fees when booking online after agreeing an amount
Grace Gausden, This is Money, replies: You decided to book a hotel room to stay in when coming to London next year for a one night break.
Settling on an apartment style room, similar to Airbnb, where you have your own lounge and kitchen, you confirmed the trip with Booking.com for a cost of £82.
As possible with most bookings on the site, you chose to pay at a later date, with the option of free cancellation.
However, a couple of days later you received another email from Booking.com saying the total amount should actually be £126 as it had forgotten to include a £44 cleaning fee.
This is clearly a huge amount to add on retrospectively as it is more than half the cost of the original amount.
The message added that the customer could cancel their reservation for free due to the change in cost.
Whilst this means you would not lose any money, it is still inconvenient, as you wanted to stay in this particular property.
The CMA previously tackled hotel sites not advertising the full prices online for customers
It also begs the question whether third party booking sites should be allowed to add on fees after a confirmation of the payment price has already been made.
The Competition and Markets Authority took action last year after it became concerned that practices such as not displaying the full cost of a room upfront could mislead people, stop them finding the best deal and potentially break consumer protection law.
It spoke to a number of companies, including hotel booking sites, who agreed to display all compulsory charges such as taxes, booking fees – or in your case cleaning fees – in the headline price.
This is Money couldn’t get through to speak to anyone who works directly at the hotel as every email sent to the given address bounced back and the number supplied did not call through at all.
On Booking.com, it says the property has been added recently with just two guest reviews, however both of those were positive.
Booking.com agreed to cover the cleaning fee in full after being made aware of the change
A spokesperson for Booking.com replies: Travel is at the heart of what we do at Booking.com and to ensure enjoyable travel experiences for the many travellers who book with us.
In the rare instance where our customers find an error in their booking, our customer services team are available 24/7 to offer support and to find a solution for all parties.
On this occasion, we have apologised for the inconvenience and offered to cover the cleaning fee in full as a gesture of goodwill.
Grace Gausden, This is Money, adds: Although the CMA has investigated the adding of fees at a later date, unless it receives numerous reports that hotel booking sites are doing this, it is unlikely to take action.
In this scenario, it is also likely the hotel informed Booking.com about the cleaning fee, rather than Booking.com deciding to add it on itself, meaning the hotel is liable for the change in price.
Fortunately in this situation, the cleaning fee has been covered in full so you do not need to worry.
However, in future, customers should always read through the small print when booking accommodation to see if it says additional fees may be added.
If you find yourself being charged, contact your hotel directly first then the third party site you booked it on to see if they can reverse the changes.
In many cases, booking sites allow their customers to cancel for free up to a couple of weeks before the scheduled arrival date, meaning you won’t have to worry about paying out.