September 11, 2011
Nassau Bahamas – September 11, 2011 (www.hospitalitybusinessnews.com) KERZNER INTERNATIONAL was sued in the US District Court for the southern district of Florida on June 30, 2011 over ‘mandatory housekeeping gratuity and utility service fee’ it charges Atlantis guests.The amended complaint filed by a Jennifer Costa on behalf of the class action plaintiffs alleges that the ‘mandatory’ fee is “deceptive” because Kerzner International does not pass all of it on to either housekeeping staff or to cover utility fees.
“By labelling the gratuity and utility charge something that it is not, Kerzner is deceiving consumers into paying more for their hotel room than they bargained,” the class action lawsuit alleged.
In The Bahamas most hotel workers are covered by a union agreement. Under the agreement the hotels collect a daily gratuity for the maids. This amount is not distributed solely to the maids though. A major portion goes to the maids but a small amount is put aside in a “common pool” for other employees in the hotel.
The issue of “mandatory” is interesting. Who is it mandatory for? For example a Government Room Tax must be collected by the hotel. It is mandatory that the hotel collect and pay it to the Government. It is also mandatory that the guest pay it. Whether the tax is added to the daily rate, as in most cases, or included in the rate, the Guest pays for it. The Maids gratuity, in the Bahamas, is similar. The hotel has a legal obligation to pay this amount to the staff. So this “fee” would be considered Mandatory. The energy surcharge, however, is an additional charge added by the hotel at their sole discretion. It is a way to get more money, plain and simple. Some hotels simply roll everything into one big charge and call it a resort fee. It’s all about getting $150 per night for a $100 room
The lawsuit alleges: “In the face of shrinking revenues and eroding profits in the current economic climate, hotels and resorts have turned to the unscrupulous practice of imposing additional fees and surcharges on consumers designed to appear as innocent expenses.