Denny’s Daily Zinger: Fee Seas!

Hampton's bait-and-switch.

Travel today means perpetually sailing on rough seas:

  • Roads are in gross disrepair—potholed, pitted, cracked—and bad for human backs and automobile undersides.
  • A recent Federal National Bridge Inventory determined 65,605 bridges were classified as “structurally deficient” and 20,808 as “fracture critical.” Of those, 7,795 were both—a combination of red flags that experts say indicate significant disrepair and similar risk of collapse.
  • It is impossible to do a crossword puzzle while riding on a train, because rails, roadbeds and rolling stock are in such rickety shape.
  • Airport check-in and screening are ghastly. And about to get worse as the TSA bureaucracy gears up to protect us from projected new Middle East terror attacks.
  • Cruise ships have become giant incubators of contagious diseases.

Compounding the Travel High Seas: Fee Seas
I made reservations at the Washington, D.C. Hampton Inn. The advertised price was $249 per night.

The actual price after additional fees—not mentioned in the promo—was $285.10.

I expect to pay fees for services and products rendered.

Hidden fees which show up on a final bill piss me off.

“Always turn a marketing disaster into a marketing opportunity,” said the great Lester Wunderman.

Supposing Hampton Inn’s ad ran as follows:

$285 per night. (Includes all fees and taxes)

The underlying messages:

  • You can trust the honest folks at Hampton Inns.
  • Book with any of these other weasels, and when the bill comes, you’re gonna be (1) surprised and (2) screwed.

Takeaway to Consider

  • Test everything.

Denny Hatch’s new book is “Write Everything Right!” Pat Friesen writes, “This book is guaranteed to help you fine-tune your writing skills, whatever you write. Denny’s wit and craftsmanship as an experienced writer/author shine through on every page.” Click here to download (opens as a PDF) and read the first three chapters FREE. The title is also available on Kindle. Reach Denny at

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

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  • Jerry

    Denny, what were the fees? Were they additional charges tacked on for hotel services? Or were they local taxes? If the former, you have a legitimate complaint. If the latter, it’s a fact of life. Hotels, rental cars, restaurants, grocery stores – IOW, everyone outside of the airline industry – advertise prices sans taxes. And in many states, including taxes in the price is illegal.

  • Tim Orr

    Trouble is, when you publish a price including all the hidden charges and your competitor does not, the impatient buyer will often choose your competitor. It’s unlikely they’ll go back afterward and check your price v. the price they paid. Land-line telephone bills have been a morass of hidden charges for years, and I hear that mobile phone bills will soon be just as bad.

    It reminds me of the salesman making cold calls who says, “My presentation will only take 7 minutes – unless you have questions.” Then, if you ask even a single, simple question, he feels the justification to spend 45 minutes in your office.