Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ethics and the extra-person charge at hotels

Vacation costs, even for frugal vacations, add up. One way I'm often tempted to save money is by sneaking around the extra-person charge at hotels. It's not like it's hard to convince the hotel staff you have one person when you really have two.

On the one hand, it would save $5-$10 or sometimes more a night.

On the other hand, it involves flat-out lying and unambigious deceit.

But is it actually hurting the hotel? Does it really cost them any more to have two people in a room instead of one? An extra towel to launder? A little more toilet paper to replace? I'm inclined to think their extra expenses are measurable in pennies, if there even are any. (If anyone knows something I'm missing here, let me know.)

Yet even if their policies are a rip-off, even if sneaking in an extra person doesn't cost them anything, isn't it unethical to save money by breaking the rules?

In the end, I've never been personally comfortable looking the hotel staff in the eye and saying "It's only me tonight" when that's not true. But I often think about it a heck of a lot.

How about you? Do any of you sometimes (or always) try to get around the extra-person charge? Do you think about it? Or is it something you'd never consider? Do you think it's totally unethical, perfectly fine, or something inbetween?


the Prince of Thrift said...

I agree with you but from a legal standpoint, they could charge you with theft, if they found out.

LAMoneyGuy said...

Back in college, we used to have two people check in (usually a couple), and about a dozen of us would stay in one room. That was clearly overstepping the boundaries of what is acceptable. Today, I am truthful with the hotel.

I agree that it's a silly policy. The marginal costs to the hotel are nominal, at best. In Japan it is even more extreme. The per head charge is essentially the room rate. Four people in one room may cost you as much as four people in four rooms.

James Livingston said...

I dunno... I probably wouldn't try this one. You'd just feel mortified if they called you on it, and besides, the extra person probably will use extra soap, extra towels, and other stuff that legitimately will cost the hotel more money... So it kind of makes sense. By the way, I just linked to your blog from mine after reading your excellent 2-part piece on socially responsible investing. Drop by any time at!


Anonymous said...

If it aint the truth, it aint the truth. Suppose it "only" costs the hotel a few dollars more - that means the honest people pay more than the liars - the cheats and liars. The honest people pay the "few" extra dollars that the liars don't, as we always do. The liars pocket a few bucks. There really is NO FREE LUNCH: when you cheat the hotel, you are really cheating the honest poleple who do not lie.

I am a bit disgusted that you even consider being a liar to "save" a few bucks like this (which really means some honet person pays more than they would if you were honest). l

donna jean said...

I'm really push that honest spending button a lot lately. I've never come across this issue with hotels because I either don't travel much or always thought the single rate matched the double rate.

But, one area where it has cropped up is kids meals. The daughter is 11 and some places are 10-and-under kids menu when others are 12-and-under kids menu.

The daughter frequently orders from the adult menu, but there are times where the kids menu is more in line what she wants, how much she'll eat, pr how much we want to pay. But, we just learned her favorite place has a 10-and-under limit that we'd not seen before -- what to do?

The daughter and I both agree that we should be honest and not try to sneak an order in. We also agreed that it's okay for the daughter to ask the waiter if it's okay to order the smaller, kids item even though she is older.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I decided we would not lie, even if we could save money. How can I expect my children to be honest if they see me excusing a little lying here, a little stealing there? Perhaps a good lesson is that truth is truth, even if it costs.

mOOm said...

I've never heard of an extra person charge in the US when going from 1 to 2 people. For more than 2 yes. In some other countries as someone posted they just charge per head rather than per room.

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Sara said...

First of all, theft is highly unlikely to be the charge--it doesn't fit most state's statutes because there really is no taking of property. Secondly, I doubt you'd find a prosecutor in the country willing to charge anyone with this crime. It's more like a breach of contract claim and the hotel would likely charge your credit card they would have on file if they did in fact find out.

I just randomly found this blog by doing a google search. You people must have moral and ethical dilemmas every hour. I mean seriously, you are worried about ordering off the children's menu for your 11 year old daughter? Get a grip.

Anonymous said...

Hotels like to know how many are in a room in case there is ever a fire, so it's not always about earning that extra few dollars.