Here's What You Can Do About False Hotel Minibar Charges

When it comes to going the distance in the name of travel, Americans have a way of actively putting miles on the books. The U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports Americans take around 2.6 billion long-distance trips collectively each year. Many of those trips come with hotel stays designed to offer a convenient home-away-from-home experience for travelers.

There are more than 91,000 hotels and motels across the U.S. for travelers to choose from. Each destination inevitably offers guests its own collection of amenities, features, and upgrades to enjoy. While some travelers are bound to be thrilled by the details of their stay, others might find certain amenities can lead to unexpected problems.

The minibar is a hotel room feature that can easily cause travelers undue stress. Especially when you return home to find you've been charged for minibar items you didn't actually use during your stay. Fortunately, there's no need to panic or pay the false costs. Following a series of steps will help you rectify the error and remove the charge from your card.

Always begin by reaching out to the hotel you stayed at and speaking with the manager on the phone. While an email might be effective, there's also a good chance it gets overlooked or dismissed entirely. A phone call to the manager is a clear, personalized, and direct way to explain the issue on your bill and hopefully find a quick and easy solution too.

Consider customer service and social media solutions

Some hotels offer guests access to a personal concierge. When this is the case, travelers faced with false minibar charges on their final bill have the option to reach out directly to the concierge for assistance. If both the hotel manager and the concierge say they can't help remove the charge, it's time to escalate the issue upward.

If your charges are stemming from a hotel that's part of a larger brand chain, escalating your issue begins with reaching out to the corporate customer service team. Corporate customer service complaints can often be submitted through online chat tools, submission portals on the company website, or by calling a dedicated phone number. No matter which route you go, be sure you have your reservation number in hand as well as the credit card that was charged, and receipts to make the conversation and resolution process as smooth as possible.

When efforts to resolve false minibar charges through these channels are unsuccessful, or hotel staff and customer service are unresponsive, it may be worth your time to take to a social media platform to get a response and resolution. Calling out the issue on a broader scale using a public forum like social media is typically a fast route to getting a hotel's attention. Just be sure that the message isn't entirely negative. Do say something positive about your experience before outlining issues around the unresolved minibar charge.

Choose to file a chargeback

When a false minibar charge is on your credit card and you haven't had any luck reaching a resolution with the hotel, you can choose to file a chargeback with your credit card company instead. The process is typically longer than resolving the charge through a hotel because the credit card company must investigate before authorizing a credit. However, the chances of success with all the right documentation in place are anywhere from 65% to 75% on average for consumers.

Dealing with false minibar charges can be time-consuming and frustrating. Avoiding the scenario entirely is possible by specifically requesting a room without a minibar included at the time of reservation. If this isn't possible and the hotel utilizes minibars with access codes in their rooms, feel free to decline the code so there's no confusion around potential charges.

Some travelers find themselves with false minibar charges simply because they weren't aware of the sensor technology in place. In some hotels, guests are automatically charged for minibar items when minibar sensors detect anything has been moved for more than 60 seconds. In this scenario, even innocently browsing items or examining labels could leave you with an unexpected charge on your final bill.

Unfortunately, false minibar charges can't always be avoided. Knowing the potential pitfalls can make a big difference. Additionally, understanding the steps you can take after a false charge to resolve the problem provides travelers with the peace of mind they deserve.