Most travellers think of their hotel as a safe space where they can rest their weary feet after a day of sightseeing. However, even the most seasoned travellers could fall for these clever hotel scams.
1. Free wifi that’s too good to be true
Everybody loves free wifi. These days many hotels offer complimentary wifi but unfortunately, criminals can use this to their advantage. Wifi skimming involves using someone else’s free wifi network to steal information from unwary people. The scammer establishes a hot spot in a hotel, park or popular public area and names it ‘Free wifi’. Once you begun using the connection, any data you use or passwords you enter will be sent straight to the scammer’s computer. Before using any free wifi, always confirm the hotel’s wifi name with the front desk.
2. Fake food delivery service
Along with your welcome pack, you might also find fliers and pamphlets for nearby delivery food services promising to bring food right to your hotel room. After a day of sightseeing, who wouldn’t want a delicious pizza delivered straight to their door? So, you call the pizza place, place your order and provide your credit card details. An hour later, you’re still waiting. You call again and you’re told the pizza is on its way. But it never arrives because the reality is the pizza place never existed. The scammers have just walked away with your credit card information. Avoid this scam by calling ahead to the front desk and confirming that the restaurant flier is legitimate before placing an order.
3. Don’t touch the mini bar
Most people know that eating or drinking anything out of the mini bar could cost them big when they pay the bill upon checkout. However, a new scam is the conning of unsuspecting hotel guests who simply want to look inside the fridge. Many travellers try to save money by buying their own food from the supermarket and keeping it fresh in the hotel mini bar. Unfortunately, hotels have cottoned on to this and some have gone as far as to use a sensor to monitor each time you open the fridge and charge you a fee. What’s more, signage warning you of the possible charges may not be visible immediately – in fact, sometimes the warning is placed inside the fridge, so by the time you notice it, it’s too late.
4. The front desk call scam
While not as prevalent these days, in certain parts of the world the front desk call scam is still alive and kicking. Fifteen minutes after checking in, you might receive a phone call from someone claiming to be at the front desk. This person might say that there was a problem with the credit card you provided and they need to verify the card details. As a convenience to you, they might offer to take your details over the phone, to save you from coming back to reception. A real hotel staff member is never supposed to take credit card details over the phone. If you receive such a call, do not give out your information. Instead, always offer to come down the front desk and sort it out there. Always report the scam to the hotel staff.
5. Room with a view (of the highway)
You pay for a room with a view of the ocean only to find the ocean is nowhere in sight – instead, you’re beside a busy highway. Some hotels might be overlooking the beach but not all hotel rooms will have a view of the water. There might be a marina, a busy road or a strip mall between you and the ocean. One way to avoid being misled is to use Google Street View to check out the location of the hotel. It allows you to take a 360-degree tour of the hotel’s exterior before you even get there. You can also check out online reviews on TripAdvisor to help you choose the best hotel. The website, The Beachfront Club has compiled a list of 7000 around the world with the best beachfront views.