Update: What is Marriott Thinking?

This is a repost of an entry I did over 3 years ago.  Turns out I missed a litigious opportunity: http://www.newser.com/story/124744/hotel-guest-sues-over-75-cent-usa-today.html

Here’s the story; my original post follows.

Hotel Guest Sues Over 75-Cent USA Today

Hotels shouldn’t provide newspapers unless requested: federal lawsuit

(Newser) – You know those copies of USA Today that sometimes get left outside your hotel room door? Apparently they’re not free, at least not at the Hilton Garden Inn Sonoma County Airport, which one guest learned to his dismay. Now Rodney Harmon has filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the Hilton chain over the 75-cent charge, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Harmon says he stepped over the paper as he left the room. But a few days later, he noticed a small warning on his key card pouch informing him of the charge, according to the New York Times.

“He did not request a newspaper and assumed it had been placed there by hotel staff,” reads Harmon’s suit, which adds that the hotel allegedly tried to hide the charge by listing it in an “extremely small font which is difficult to notice or read” on the key sleeve. Further, the suit accuses the hotel of an “offensive waste of precious resources and energy,” since newspaper readership is down and most of the papers left for guests probably don’t get read. Though the 75 cents is “a piddly sum,” writes Ben Popken at the Consumerist, “the case could have big implications if it becomes the impetus to sue other hotel chains, since many hotels do just the same thing.”

 ORIGINAL POST FROM JULY 2008 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

I stayed at the Marriot Springhill Suites in Danbury, CT on Monday night.  I forgot to hand in my key card when I left, and found it in my briefcase today with the rest of my trip detritus.  Take a second to read what was printed about USA Today  on the back of the little envelope that contained the key card.

I didn’t even glance at it when it was handed to me at check-in.  I didn’t read it until I was about to throw it in my recycling just now.  Marriott just stole 75¢ from me!

This is an example of negative option marketing and it is a very bad idea.  It became famously unpopular here in Canada a few years ago when a cable TV company tried to gouge their customers, and the practice is consequently illegal.

It’s especially stupid in this particular instance.  Marriott charged me $209 before taxes for the room.  Was the 0.36% of that revenue that came from this ridiculous newspaper charge really worth pissing me off?  And they don’t even clear the whole amount: part of getting this three-quarters of a buck is administering the small charge in the system, printing these little envelopes (or sacrificing the message that could be placed in the notice’s place), and handling people’s objections when they encounter this foolishness.

Even the wording is dumb.  “I” have NOT requested the delivery.  Maybe if whatever genius came up with this idea had been forced to see it written out truthfully, he or she would have seen the error of their ways:

The newspaper that every halfway decent hotel leaves outside their guests’ rooms each morning is not complimentary at this facility.  It costs 75 cents.  We will be leaving one outside your door even though you didn’t ask for it, and we’ll be adding the cost to your bill.  If you don’t want us to perpetrate this cash-grab, you must take the time to call us and tell us not to steal your money, or go out of your way to check this box, and return this envelope to the front desk.  Oh, and don’t forget that you’ll have to peruse your bill at checkout to be sure that we honoured your request!  Have a nice stay.

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