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What the is this? 5% Discretionary Service Charge - hidden fee!!

What the is this? 5% Discretionary Service Charge - hidden fee!!

Old Feb 18, 22, 11:45 pm
  #16  
 
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Originally Posted by VegasGambler View Post
You are in Japan (I'm assuming, based on your username) and you've never seen a service charge added? I have to assume you are not in Tokyo. It's commonplace at nicer hotels and restaurants.

IIRC it's 15% at the HR and 18% at the GH in Tokyo (from memory; I'm too lazy to check). I've also seen it added at numerous restaurants.
Park Hyatt:
Additional Tax, Fees & Service Charges: SERVICE CHARGE: 15.000% CONSUMPTION TAX: 10.000% TAX ON SVC CHRG: 1.500% ACCOMMODATION TX: 200.000
(this was a few years ago, so may have changed)
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Old Feb 19, 22, 1:07 am
  #17  
 
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You are all missing the point. In the UK there is 20% VAT (tax) on accommodation. A "voluntary" service charge is not subject to VAT, so all of the 5% goes to the hotel, rather than 4% and 1% to the government.
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Old Feb 19, 22, 1:18 am
  #18  
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I got a reply from one of the Hyatt hotels in London via email after I sent a message stating how surprised I was to see this fee show up as a note in the confirmation email. Here is the key sentence in the reply from the hotel:

These charges are discretionary and if you are refusing to pay them the Hotel will remove them upon Check out from your bill.

Yes, I guess that is what 'discretionary' means but thank you in advance for putting the onus on me to have your surprise fee removed from the bill which was a total surprise to me. I don't like this policy, at all. And what if I use the mobile app or email to remotely check-out, will the hotel make it easy to remove the fee? Somehow, I doubt it.
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Old Feb 19, 22, 2:10 am
  #19  
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Originally Posted by PortlySpartacus View Post
I got a reply from one of the Hyatt hotels in London via email after I sent a message stating how surprised I was to see this fee show up as a note in the confirmation email. Here is the key sentence in the reply from the hotel:

These charges are discretionary and if you are refusing to pay them the Hotel will remove them upon Check out from your bill.

Yes, I guess that is what 'discretionary' means but thank you in advance for putting the onus on me to have your surprise fee removed from the bill which was a total surprise to me. I don't like this policy, at all. And what if I use the mobile app or email to remotely check-out, will the hotel make it easy to remove the fee? Somehow, I doubt it.
Will you keep the bookings or book else where?
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Old Feb 19, 22, 8:20 am
  #20  
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Originally Posted by Aventine View Post
Will you keep the bookings or book else where?
Well, both Hyatt hotels I have reservations with in August have both sent me the same confirmation email stating the 5% discretionary fee. Upon further research, it appears this is a trend across many higher end hotels in London, not just with Hyatt. I have six months until the reservation date so I have time to explore other options as some new Hyatt properties are coming online in London this year but if this is a UK hotel practice then it doesn't matter.
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Old Feb 19, 22, 8:24 am
  #21  
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Originally Posted by Truffles View Post
You are all missing the point. In the UK there is 20% VAT (tax) on accommodation. A "voluntary" service charge is not subject to VAT, so all of the 5% goes to the hotel, rather than 4% and 1% to the government.
What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?
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Old Feb 19, 22, 8:38 am
  #22  
 
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Originally Posted by PortlySpartacus View Post
Well, both Hyatt hotels I have reservations with in August have both sent me the same confirmation email stating the 5% discretionary fee. Upon further research, it appears this is a trend across many higher end hotels in London, not just with Hyatt. I have six months until the reservation date so I have time to explore other options as some new Hyatt properties are coming online in London this year but if this is a UK hotel practice then it doesn't matter.
Ah, not suggesting what you should or shouldn't do, but if you know they're going to remove simply by your asking, what's the harm or risk? That, you may forget? Perhaps, it's the ugly American in me but I'd have zero qualms instructing them to remove it. Even in restaurants with the mandatory gratuity, if I find the service not commensurate with the 18%, I demand it be removed.
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Old Feb 19, 22, 9:46 am
  #23  
 
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Originally Posted by PortlySpartacus View Post
I got a reply from one of the Hyatt hotels in London via email after I sent a message stating how surprised I was to see this fee show up as a note in the confirmation email. Here is the key sentence in the reply from the hotel:

These charges are discretionary and if you are refusing to pay them the Hotel will remove them upon Check out from your bill.

Yes, I guess that is what 'discretionary' means but thank you in advance for putting the onus on me to have your surprise fee removed from the bill which was a total surprise to me. I don't like this policy, at all. And what if I use the mobile app or email to remotely check-out, will the hotel make it easy to remove the fee? Somehow, I doubt it.
The other question that comes to mind is whether you can demand that it be stripped prior to checking out or not. I ponder this because for some folks, having to deal with this at the front desk on your final morning may represent a mild hurdle to folks getting the charges knocked off (which feels like the plan...it's not quite "Comcast retention", but if the front desk is understaffed...).
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Old Feb 19, 22, 10:22 am
  #24  
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This practice seems to be well established by now. Here is an article published in 2003 when it was emerging:

https://www.thecaterer.com/archive/h...-fierce-debate

A Savoy spokeswoman said the optional charge was an alternative to cutting back on the variety and quality of services expected at luxury, five-star hotels in a slowing economy.

She added that it rewarded back of house staff who are less likely to be tipped than other workers, helped offset the increased costs of living in London, and solved the guest dilemma of who and how much to tip.
The first part is rebutted by others who were interviewed for the article. The last part would only be accurate if the hotel mentions the charge at check-in -and- enforces a property-wide No Tipping policy which causes bell and waitstaff to decline cash tips.

Last edited by mia; Feb 19, 22 at 1:44 pm
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Old Feb 19, 22, 4:39 pm
  #25  
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Originally Posted by GrayAnderson View Post
The other question that comes to mind is whether you can demand that it be stripped prior to checking out or not. I ponder this because for some folks, having to deal with this at the front desk on your final morning may represent a mild hurdle to folks getting the charges knocked off (which feels like the plan...it's not quite "Comcast retention", but if the front desk is understaffed...).
Well I have exchanged emails with the hotel staff on this after my reservation. They have pointed out that they do, in fact, make this information available prior to you confirming the reservation. I went back to their website and can say this is a true statement. When you input the dates you want to stay and are presented with a list of room rate pricing options, there is a section above the rate listings with the letter "i" for information and it shows two sentences of text It's only after you click the "Read More" that you are presented with the full text listed below....

Shame on me for not reading the fine print and its a lesson for all of us. Make sure to read the details of your booking and cancellation policies to avoid surprises. The hotel rep also said they have already updated my reservation details by noting that the discretionary fees be removed from my bill. So two lessons from this little exercise in booking a room in today's environment:
1) Read the fine print and know what you are signing up for before clicking "Book Room"
2) Email the hotel in advance and request that the discretionary fee be removed from your bill and noted on your reservation before your stay.

Public service message will now conclude....

"i" :
The safety and wellbeing of our guests and colleagues is always a top priority. Please note that we recommend wearing face coverings in all our public areas, including lobby, elevators and hallways. Guests are also kindly advised to wear a mask when making use of the buffet service in The Montagu and Regency Club. Our hotel has enhanced safety and cleanliness protocols in place. Learn more about our enhanced safety and cleanliness protocols here. For enquiries, please contact the hotel directly on [email protected] or your nearest Global Contact Centre. - PLEASE NOTE - Rates are inclusive of 12.5% VAT (Value Added Tax) until 31st March 2022 and will revert back to 20% from 1st April 2022. A discretionary service charge of 5% will be added to your Accommodation bill. Guests aged 13 or over are considered adults and subject to adult pricing. Queen rooms accommodate maximum two occupants (children/infants included) and do not accommodate rollaway beds, all other rooms and suites (except the Churchill Residential Suite) accommodate maximum three occupants (children/infants included), with rollaway beds subject to availability. For connecting rooms, book the Family Garden View or 2-Bedroom Garden View Suite or contact the hotel directly. A deposit is required on check-in for incidental charges.
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Old Feb 20, 22, 9:54 am
  #26  
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this thread got picked up by the bloggers at OMAAT

this thread got picked up by Ben https://onemileatatime.com/insights/...rvice-charges/

OP you can decline to pay for these at checkout.

Originally Posted by PortlySpartacus View Post
I just noticed this on two reservations I made today with Hyatt properties in London.

PLEASE NOTE THAT A DISCRETIONARY SERVICE CHARGE OF 5% WILL BE ADDED TO YOUR ACCOMODATION BILL.

Nowhere did this 5% fee show up during the reservation process on the Hyatt website. Only after I booked the room did I see this statement show up in the confirmation email in the Reservation Details section of the email as a "Note from the hotel"


How can these properties get away with tacking on a fee after reservation has been confirmed at a previously confirmed price? What gives?
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Old Feb 20, 22, 1:06 pm
  #27  
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Originally Posted by Gertjaars View Post
this thread got picked up by Ben https://onemileatatime.com/insights/...rvice-charges/

OP you can decline to pay for these at checkout.
My first FT post to get promoted up to full blogger posting status, lol.

The hotel has already responded to me that they will remove the 5% fee in advance of my reservation and have updated my reservation with notes to take care of this. We'll see if they follow through with that. Check your reservation details and pricing information closely my friends.....
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Old Feb 22, 22, 1:11 pm
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Just Say No

I understand the consternation. But really, a politely worded email, noting the use of the word “discretionary” should resolve the issue.

Upon learning that a discretionary charge can be removed, I’d simply reply that, in that case, I want it removed.
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Old Feb 22, 22, 1:20 pm
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I would be leery of giving early notice that I would like the charges removed. I would fear some subtle or not so subtle retribution.
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Old Feb 22, 22, 1:36 pm
  #30  
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the relevant fact is whether your declination means reduced compensation for hotel staff or reduced profits for hotel owners
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