Over the years that I’ve been traveling, I’ve witnessed some pretty heavy “nickel and diming” in my day. My old buddy Jeff B. for example; this is a man who expensed a $0.45 toll fee he incurred once when he had to take the long way to work due to some construction he encountered. God bless Jeff… he once skipped his appointment at the clinic to buy a new keyboard for his computer. He lied when he got home and his wife asked him, “How did the vasectomy go, dear?” “Uh, fine, no trouble!” Yea, there was no trouble until they scheduled their fourth baby-shower 11 months later, but I digress (that IS a true story).
Jeff had his problems, but it seems that he’s not the only one tracking every penny coming in and going out. I hate to put “one dollar” line items on my expense reports, it feels cheap. I realize that they can add up, but in most cases there is a way to consolidate them or to avoid them entirely. Let’s take that daily cup of coffee for example, please tell me you don’t really expense it! You have coffee when you’re not traveling, right? I’ve known several people over the years that remember and record how many sodas they have purchased from vending machines, just so they could expense them. Seriously, that seems over the top to me. After all, you’re already saving the money you would have spent on gas and groceries for the week…
Sometimes you can’t help but incur little expenses, especially since the nicer hotels have made a habit out of charging you for every single amenity, no matter how trivial. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to sound “cheap.” I enjoy a nice meal as much as the next guy; I just don’t like getting “up-charged” two or three times during its course. So without further a-do, I will present a list of hotel charges I’ve encountered and some creative ways to duck them:
– One dollar for a local call, even a 1-800 number – No brainer; use your cell. Seriously, does anyone use their hotel room phone for anything anymore, other than to order room service?
– Room Service fees, charges, and menu discrepancies – During your next hotel stay, take a look at the restaurant menu and the charges it lists for certain items. Then go upstairs and look at your room service menu and the charges it lists for the same items. It will be significantly higher, I assure you. Don’t forget the $5.00 room delivery charge, and the mandatory 20% service fee. Before you know it, a $15 meal in the restaurant will turn into a $30 “in room dining experience,” (the staff has assured me that dining in your room is a privilege and you should have to pay extra for it). I have a ceiling on the amount I can expense for food and I’ll be darned if I spend half of it on fees. So, I go to the restaurant, sit at the bar, and I order what I want. Then I watch TV for a few minutes and I tell the waiter or bar-tender, “You know what, I don’t feel that well, can you package that to go for me? I think I’ll take it to my room.”
– The ubiquitous “vacation fee” – Ever take a close look at your hotel bill and notice a per-day fee for something completely ridiculous? Most hotels in