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DoubleTree by Hilton “Tax Fraud” and Unreasonable Extra Fees – Letter to DoubleTree

DoubleTree Hotel Logo with the Dollar Defender BEWARE Stamp

Sent to DoubleTree Customer Support Contact Us Form

 

Dear DoubleTree by Hilton,

 

I recently attempted to book a 2-bedroom, 4-person suite at the DoubleTree Fallsview Resort & Spa by Hilton Niagara Falls.  I went online to check the rates and found that it was $239.00 + tax.  As per the Government of Ontario’s website, accommodations such as hotel rooms are to be taxed under the new 13 % HST.  I was therefore shocked to see that instead of the $31.07 tax I was expecting to be charged, the Taxes field had a value of $39.17,  a 16.39 % tax.

 

DoubleTree by Hilton charging 16.39 % tax

 

I decided to call in to investigate this rate further.  I spoke with someone about reserving this 2-bedroom suite and was told that the price would be $279 + tax.  This was even more shocking than the additional 3.39% worth of “tax” your company was trying to steal from me.  I was told that because I would have 4 people in the room I would have to pay an additional $40.  I think this policy is ridiculous as it shouldn’t make a difference in price if I have 1, 2 or 4 people in a 4 person room.  The room should still be serviced the exact same way regardless of the number of occupants.  Even if there is just one person staying in a room with 4 beds, I would hope that the sheets on all beds would be changed as you can’t be sure which beds have been used!

 

Needless to say, once I heard that not only were you going to charge me 16.39 % tax instead of the government mandated 13 %, but you would also attempt to scam me of an additional $40 for no reason, I ended my conversation and found another, more honest hotel to stay at.

 

I would greatly appreciate it if you could let me know why you charge 3.39 % more tax than is allowed, as I would love to hear from you before I write to my MP regarding the tax fraud your company is committing.  I would also like to inform you that I will not stay at any Hilton hotels until you change your policy wherein you charge an additional $40 for my friends to occupy a room that I have already paid for.

 

Thank you for your time,

 

The Dollar Defender


 

12 Responses to “DoubleTree by Hilton “Tax Fraud” and Unreasonable Extra Fees – Letter to DoubleTree”


 
  1. Anonymous says:

    Seems like JD offered up a pretty clear explanation of the taxes and other fees. You assumed the Taxes line item was simply HST… your mistake. Perhaps you should be a little more courteous in your letters and not so accusatory. You may get further then you have been getting in the campaigns you have.

    • Hi Anonymous,

      In my opinion, JD did not offer a clear explanation at all. In fact, were it not for one of my readers, we wouldn’t even know what the DMF was. Furthermore, as you can see in the screenshots, there is only one line item for Taxes and it is 16.39 %. Even when you click on “Rate Details”, it simply says taxes and has no mention of the DMF. I believe that if a company is going to charge a Destination Marketing Fee, they should at the very least disclose it to their customer instead of trying to sneak it in as a tax.

      • Ariel says:

        If you have a child during 2009 than yes you will get a tax break when you file taxes next year. For chdcalire you can receive some of that back but its a really high amount that you have to qualify. Also, if you have any medical expenses you have to pay for yourself than thats a tax deduction also.

  2. Hunch? says:

    Next thing you know there will be a fee for Reservations, Towel Replacement, Front Desk Service, Electricity Usage and Soap Replenishment in addition to Hotel Marketing. Shouldn’t the base rate that I pay cover all of these things automatically? Niagra in general is a huge rip off. People should save money be going to Vegas instead.

  3. JD,
    Thank you very much for taking the time to address my concerns with DoubleTree. I understand that the government requires HST on the 3 % DMF, but why even charge the DMF in the first place? It’s not really the 0.39 % that I’m concerned about. Also, it appears that your hotel tries to sneak this charge to its customers by simply grouping it in under “Taxes”, as shown in the screenshot above. Even if I click on “rate details” for a price breakdown, there is no mention of the DMF and the following is displayed for Tax:
    Taxes * 16.39 % per room per night

    Furthermore, Ontario has not legislated exactly what the DMF is to be used for. This means that hotels don’t necessarily have to contribute to the Destination Marketing Fund, but can also use this money to promote their own locations. I don’t think it’s fair for your customers to be paying for this.

    With regards to the $20 per person charge, I understand that this is standard industry policy. However, that does not make it right. I especially don’t agree with this charge when booking 2-room suites, as in the example above.

    In response to your question, I ended up booking two 2-room suites at the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort. It was much more expensive than at your location, but they only charged 13% tax so out of principle I had to book there.

  4. Adam says:

    JD, thank you for taking the time to fully explain the process.

    The one point that I don’t fully understand is the fee for extra adults. I think we can all attest to being frustrated with taxes and other government mandated fees, but why, when a room is listed as comfortably sleeping 4, is there an extra fee for every adult past the first two? Both beds would be used for two adults, all the linens, towels, and supplies should be replaced regardless of if it’s two or four adults.
    I know it’s a business, I know that they need to turn a profit, but it just screams “cash grab” and reminds me a lot of the recent airline industry’s change to charging for every checked bag!

  5. Thank you for taking the time to investigate your concerns. The 13% HST is the combined federal and provincial tax, the hotels in Niagara Falls (not exclusive to the DoubleTree) also have a 3% DMF tax charge. This is similiar to most destinations in USA and Canada. The reason the tax is 16.39% is because the government requires the hotels to charge 13% HST on the 3% DMF (hotels were recently audited to ensure all were charging the HST on the 3%). When you do the math it equals 16.39%. Actually in fact, the DoubleTree wishes it to be absolutely clear as to the amount and lists it as such, many simply say 16% with no mention of the tax on tax. In early 2012 the Ontario government is allowing each jurisdiction in the province to vote on the % they choose the DMF to be moving forward, to a maximum of 3%. Unfortunately, in the near future, you will start to see most areas within the province charging a tax rate equal to the 16.39%. Please note regarding extra adult charges, it is standard industry policy and common amongst most hotels anywhere in the Americas. I’ve only seen limited service hotels offer flat rates for 1 – 4 adults in the room, most brands it applies after the second adult with children 18 & under staying free when sharing with adult(s). Curious – what hotel did you book that is not charging 16.39% DMF in Niagara Falls? There is only one hotel in Niagara which includes it in their rate, but they also have a very high average rate.

  6. I think the most annoying part of this entire ordeal was the fact that they don’t list a contact email address, so I had to split this letter into 5 messages on their 500-character limit Contact Us form.

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