Dave Richards for August 7th…………
--I’d love to make a comment or two on yesterday’s special election for Woonsocket City Council, but I am limited to not knowing who won due to the timing of my deadline for this column.
I will say that I thought yesterday’s election had the potential to be one of most American we’ve seen in a long time. I say that because we had two candidates who waged a spirited campaign and there was a clear difference between their approaches to the job. It was then left, as it should be, to the voters to make their choice.
By the time you read this the turnout numbers will be known, but I observed personally that about twice as many voters appeared to have voted as the July election based upon the number of people who had voted when the Fabulous Denise and I presented ourselves at the Holy Trinity Church Hall.
Regardless who has prevailed, I applaud both candidates for running a spirited and uncommonly positive campaign. And I wish a positive campaign were not so uncommon.
--We don’t travel as much these days as we used to. But I do remember my first experience with Resort Fees. I was booked by my favorite travel agent into what was then my favorite hotel on the Las Vegas strip, The Riviera. We had had a lot of good memories at “The Riv” and I was kinda sad to see it torn down. But one not-so-good memory was the last time we stayed there.
When we checked in, a $50 per-night “Resort Fee” was added to the bill. I was taken by surprise and not happy at all. I phoned my travel agent who told me they have no control over it, that some hotels, in response to a “room rate war” were lowering their room rates, but using these surprise resort fees to make up the money they use to get from the room rate.
I was told they use that resort fee money to pay for “free” use of the pool, “free” water in your room, “free” access to the exercise room and things like that. I told them I don’t want to use the pool, or any of those other amenities. Why should I be forced to pay for them? Well, there was no option to avoid paying for what I didn’t use. I was stricken by the similarity of the hotel resort fees to a pay-cable TV bill. You are forced to pay for things (channels) you won’t use (watch) and have no recourse other than to not do business with the pay-cable company.
Certainly not fair. But wait. I read now that these resort fees have become so prevalent that the Attorneys General of the State of Nebraska and the District of Columbia have filed suit against hotels, charging them with Deceptive Pricing.
You see, those resort fees are hidden from you in all advertising. If you go online, all you will see is the artificially low room rate, that it. You aren’t even told how much the resort fees are until you’ve booked your room, or, as in my case, when you check in after a long and tiring trip. A heck of a time to tell you, I say. You’ve been traveling for about 6 hours altogether and you’re standing there with your luggage just hoping to get into a room to clean up and rest.
I have visited Las Vegas more than a dozen times over the years for business and pleasure. That time at The Riviera was my last.
Now I read that MGM Resorts has increased their resort fees at all their Vegas properties. In a statement from management, they are completely justified. Maybe so, but I think they are not fair and not the way I would ever treat a guest in my house.
I do hope these lawsuits gain some traction and that the Attorneys General of other states, like Rhode Island, get the same idea as Nebraska and D.C. got.
Now that I think of it, Rhode Island has some pretty good consumer protection laws. I noted a while back that I saw a particular item at a store in Massachusetts which bore a price lower than that of the same item in a Rhode Island branch of the same store chain. Upon further examination, the Massachusetts price tag had deducted the value of a rebate coupon which you had to mail in to the manufacturer. That’s another case of making a decision to buy and when you get to the register to pay you are forced to pay more money than was on the price given.
I don’t know about you, but I have been stiffed by a manufacturer in the past on a promised rebate, and I was out that money with no recourse except to never buy that manufacturer’s product again. Of course by that time it was too late for me.
But in Rhode Island, the law says that if a rebate is offered, it cannot be used to make the product appear less expensive unless you can walk out of the store with the product for that price. It’s the “Instant Rebate” at the register. I call that a fair way to do business and I think it’s a consumer protection law that Rhode Island can be proud of and Massachusetts should aspire to pass.
--That's what I think. What do you think? Comments to: email@example.com or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332. Thanks for reading.