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Man sues Hotel over “free” Newspaper

USA Today
USA Today

Web Watch likes staying at hotels, especially nice ones.

The rooms are typically clean, comfortable.  Staff service is friendly and they go out of their way to make us feel welcome and safe when travelling in an unfamiliar city.

One recent hotel stay even had the front desk manager give us a complimentary bottle of wine when we checked in after the “complimentary wine hour” was over.  Granted, while it was drinkable wine, it wasn’t anything overly high-end.  Still, the thought was there and the wine was certainly enjoyed that evening.  We’ll definitely be back to that hotel again.

One thing that we enjoy about hotels is getting either the local paper or the USA Today outside our door in the morning.

Some hotels include it as a complimentary service.  Some hotels only include it for their premium frequent travellers. Some include it as part of the overall “resort fee”, which can run as much as $10 or $20 a night extra.  

And some hotels charge $0.75 per night for the paper to be delivered outside your door.  While not always clearly pointed out as such, the fee is listed somewhere on the check-in paperwork.

And that’s where Rodney Harmon comes into the picture.  He is SUING HILTON HOTELS FOR CHARGING HIM $0.75 FOR THE USA TODAY LEFT OUTSIDE HIS ROOM DOOR.

He didn’t ask for the paper, and would have refused it if offered.  What he doesn’t like is that newspaper deliver, along with the $0.75 charge, is OPT OUT rather than OPT IN.  In other words, a hotel guest shouldn’t be telling the hotel not to provide a service for a fee, but that the hotel should be upfront about asking the guest if they want the service and charge accordingly.

It’s like one restaurant Web Watch goes to that charges customers for each glass of water served.  It ends up that the default water choice is “fancy bottled water” served from an unmarked carafe rather than “local tap water” served out of a similar carafe.  You can imagine our surprise when we saw the bill with $15 worth of water on it when we thought we were getting the free stuff.

Harmon is making this a class-action lawsuit, saying that the unrequested delivery of newspapers is adding to deforestation and other environmental issues.  It is waste that is not necessary.

Web Watch agrees that there are inconsistencies with when we get a “free” paper vs when it’s paid for as part of a resort fee.  If we felt that strongly about it, we’d just tell the hotel not to deliver the paper to our room… and then pick up the free paper from the stack of them that are often left at the front desk for the taking.   We definitely wouldn’t stoop so low as to “steal” the paper from another hotel room’s door.

That would be completely wrong.