Many hotels have jumped on the hidden fees bandwagon

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) Are you fed up with fees? First the airlines made headlines by charging for things that used to be free. Then it was the banks. And now get ready: hotels are checking in on this fee frenzy.

Tens of thousands of guaranteed customers, hundreds of hotels to choose from and dozens of hotel fees and added charges you may not know are headed for your tab at the end of the trip. It has some travelers boiling even before they hit the beach.

Frequent traveler Karon Gibson says she is fed up with hotel fees.

"I don't think it's fair sometimes because you're already paying pretty high fees for hotel rooms," Gibson said.

She's been hit with fees to use the safe in her hotel room, resort fees even if she didn't use the gym or pool, fees to receive a fax, and most outrageously she says: a daily parking fee when she didn't have a car!

"I was pretty upset about that," Gibson said.

Upset because she checked into a hotel and checked out with a much higher bill than she expected. And it's happening to more and more travelers.

We found a new study that claims hotels are expected to collect a record high: $1.8 billion from extra fees and surcharges this year. That's up $100 million since 2011.

"I find people are extremely mad about the situation," said Ian Ford.

Ian Ford is a travel expert, and he tells WMBF News he's seen fees at two star hotels to luxury hotels and there's quite a range of costly charges like: restocking fees ranging from $5 to $15 for just opening the mini bar, not even taking anything out, a bellman charge of $8 even if you carry your own luggage, a '$3.95' energy charge for using the air conditioning, a '$3.50' fee per 'coffee capsule' you drink in your room.

Several hotels are charging you from $25 to $100 if you want luxury linens.

"They're passing on a cost whatever it is, sometimes its a little more expensive than the actual cost, but they have to cover some of their other overhead," Ford said.

Visitors we spoke with here in Myrtle Beach say they've been burned once and that's enough.

"We'll do the Google search and always look at the reviews on the stays," says Indiana tourist, Tony Schoen. "And a lot of times those reviews will have the fees listed for incidentals such as your coffee, your per-cup charges, your mini bar charges."

Kelly Stidham says she never really thought to ask. "I've never really paid any attention until check-out time and you got a high phone bill or hidden fees. You don't even think about it."

She admits she pays attention now.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association says fees are increasing because the hotel industry now has more properties and rooms available than ever before.

And hotels sometimes have to pay a third party to run the gym, operate the pool, provide internet access or other services.

Experts say if you want to avoid fees you should call the hotel when you make your reservation and ask what they charge extra for, or check on the hotel website.

Some hotel loyalty programs give members breaks on the fees.

And if you don't like a fee, before you check in try negotiating and tell the hotel you're going to stay elsewhere if it won't budge.

Again, the solution is a simple one. Ask the hotel up front what additional fees, if any, they charge on top of the regular room rate.

Don't wait until checkout. After all, there are going to be enough surprises on your summer vacation without adding hidden fees to the mix.

Copyright 2012 WMBF News. All rights reserved.