Q – Just back from a one-week stay at the Marriott in New York. As recommended, when checking out I asked that the built-in travel agent commission be taken off our bill since I had booked this personally on the phone directly with the hotel’s own reservation staff. They refused and mumbled something about “they always charge the full price”.  We had stayed for a week and at 10% I figure that we were overcharged by more than $1000. What is the next step? Do I contact our Attorney General’s office, contact the credit card company etc?

A – if you want to get action on this you should begin by contacting Ritz Carlton Guest Services and give them a reasonable time to respond. If they don’t get back to you within five days you might post this on Twitter and Facebook on the hotel’s guest site. If you want some government help to recover the travel agent commission we would suggest that you reach out to the Office of Consumer Affairs in your state. Hotels, cruise lines, and tour operators should not be charging you the significant built-in travel agent commission if you never used an agent. They are simply pocketing the money, which we believe, is rightfully yours. We should point out that many hotels tack on an 8% rather than a 10% commission to your nightly bill. For cruise lines and tour operators, that figure can average 15-17%.  

We doubt that your credit card company will be of much help. This consumer revolt against travel companies charging guests the travel agent commission when no travel agent was involved is starting to garner attention – but not from the travel press. No one wants to upset this extremely profitable travel apple cart. We are guessing that the impetus for change will come from people like you who are fed up with being secretly charged for travel agent services they never received.