Mandatory resort fees are a sneaky way for a hotel to advertise one low price but charge travelers a much higher price when they get to the hotel. Resort fees are seeping in to America’s hotels at a rapid rate and they are usually never included in the initially advertised hotel price. Prior to purchase these mandatory hotel-imposed fees are disclosed, but the damage has already been done and, upon disclosure, many consumers think that these fees are charged by all area hotels.

Travelers should always pay the room rate and associated taxes for a hotel stay. However, if a hotel guest would like to decline the services of the resort fee and avoid paying this add-on rate, here is how to avoid paying a resort fee.

Step One – Ask to speak to the manager
When travelers are at the front desk and the hotel staff is demanding an additional $35 a night for them to receive their key, politely ask the manager if they can decline all of the amenities the hotel is allegedly providing with the resort fee. Guest should clearly state that they are not interested in the pool (as it may be freezing out). See if a nice manager will allow them to avoid paying resort fees. If they are at a hotel where they have loyalty status, politely remind the manager of their status and ask for the fee to be waived.

Step Two – Dispute the charge
If speaking with the manager does not work, pay with a credit card and make sure to get documentation from the front desk that shows that visitors were forced to pay an additional second rate/resort fee for them to receive their room key. After the stay at the hotel, make sure to talk to the credit card company about how they were forced to pay an additional $35 per night that was not advertised, it was not part of the room rate and they used none of the services allegedly provided. Ask for the credit card company to dispute the claim and return the $35 per day charge back to the traveler’s credit card. They will investigate and the credit card company will likely help avoid paying resort fees.

Step Three – Small Claims Court
If travelers paid their resort fee with cash, there is still one last effort they can take to avoid paying resort fees. Make sure to get a receipt. A one-week stay in a hotel with a resort fee can easily be $250 that one did not expect to spend. If a guest booked the original room rate online sitting on their couch at home, they have jurisdiction to sue the hotel in their home district’s small claims court. Small claims court allows traveler to fill out a piece of paper or two and pay a small claims court fee. The small claims court will send a notice to the hotel that they are requesting the return of the $250 fee. No lawyer is needed for small claims court and the court is specifically set up to be as accessible as possible to anyone who feels like they have been wronged. Small claims court is an excellent way to get justice.