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LondonHouse Chicago Billing Mistake

LondonHouse Chicago Billing Mistake

I recently completed a one-night stay at the LondonHouse Chicago.  I’ll write more extensively about my stay in a future article.  Today, I’m focusing on one annoying aspect of my visit.  I’m not consistently looking to play “gotcha” with providers in the travel industry.  But I feel the need to bring up a noticeable shortcoming others have perhaps experienced, as well.  Today, I’ll describe this LondonHouse Chicago billing mistake and how I achieved resolution.

During My Stay

I was quite parched as I packed up my things late in the morning prior to checking out of the hotel.  I noticed the two complimentary bottles of water on the table across from the sitting area.  Specifically, each of the two waters held a collared label noting that the water is free for all Diamond, Gold, and Silver Hilton Honors members.  A bottle of water is $3 for everyone else.

I hesitated for a moment.  This straightforward offering opens up many possible ways for a hotel to screw up.  I didn’t want to deal with the nonsense of an accidental billing, but I was also thirsty.  Instead, I shrugged it off.  I decided to take the offer at face value and consumed one bottle of water.  After all, I was curious to see how the hotel would handle it, anyway.

I subsequently reviewed my hotel bill with a front desk agent.  Everything was in order, and I checked out.  Perhaps you know where this is going.

LondonHouse Chicago Billing Mistake
Evidence, if needed.

After My Stay

A few days after my stay, I noticed two separate charges on my credit card.  The first charge, related my dinner at the LH Rooftop with a friend, was accurate.  The second one, which I did not recognize, was for $3.

I called the property.  The phone rang for a few minutes.  I hung up and I called again.  This time, I had the pleasure of hold music for about five minutes.  A rep finally picked up and greeted me.  I provided my recent stay details and queried what the $3 charge involved.  The agent said it was for a bottle of water.  I asked if my Diamond status was on file with the property, and she confirmed it was.

She offered to refund this $3 charge, and I thanked her for doing so.  I then asked her where the oversight occurred.  She vaguely advised that the hotel had a lot of new people.  Undeterred, I asked if the oversight was with housekeeping, the front desk, or someone else.  She broadly apologized for the mistake in her non-answer and advised I’d receive the refund in five to seven days.  I thanked her, and the call ended.

LondonHouse Chicago Billing Mistake

Why Did I Pursue This?

I sought resolution for two reasons.  First, I wanted I wanted the $3 back, plain and simple.  But, more importantly, I wanted to hold the property accountable.  I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the hotel makes this “mistake” quite often.  And quite conveniently, they could profit off such a mistake, $3 at a time.  Extrapolate this out.

This isn’t too different from when I caught Treasure Island Las Vegas charging me room tax on an award stay.  How many people have experienced such a mistake?  How many people actually pursue resolution?   I’m confident those two numbers substantially differ.

I wanted to call out the hotel for this on behalf of all the victims who haven’t bothered.  “Three bucks isn’t worth my time,” many may think.  Meanwhile, it may be worth it for the hotel, $3 over and over.  Drip, drip, drip.


I achieved resolution to my individual situation, but I imagine this “mistake” will continue.  I’m just one individual, and I encourage others to seek out resolution in similar situations.  And while the amounts may be silly or negligible, it’s a noble effort, nonetheless.  Things may change with numbers, or perhaps not.  Either way, they win if we aren’t made whole.  Has something similar happened to you?

Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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  1. I get the idea of wanting your $3 back. You’re owed it. Take the steps you need to. But I can’t grasp the idea that this is a big push by Hilton or this hotel specifically to slowly drain $3 from “elite” customers. How would this push to scam elites work? Is this an unwritten or written decree by Hilton or LH to charge $3 on unsuspecting customers? Do employees who successfully place the $3 on customer bills get a commission?

    Occam’s razor: this was likely just a mistake by a front desk agent.

    I don’t understand why you’d feel pressed to find the person who made the mistake either. From what I gather, when you got ahold of an agent, they apologized and refunded the money. Matter dealt with.
    You travel enough. With hundreds, sometimes thousands of visitors a day going through hotels, mistakes will happen. Getting 500 words out of a $3 error is a bit of outrage theater.

  2. Once argued about a 10 cent overcharge at a Burger King. While waiting for my food, looked at my receipt and noticed they charged more for the cheeseburger than was listed on their menu sign. I asked the worker about it, she said that’s the price. I pointed to the sign, brought up false advertising and got a blank stare. She got the manager, he didn’t understand it either. Finally he reached in his pocket, pulled out a dime, banged it on the counter saying “here’s your money” then stormed off. I just laughed at him. If I tried to underpay them, doubt they would give me my food.

  3. Benjy, it’s not about the $3. In your scenario, it’s about their inattentiveness. If it’s not about waving the charge on the water, it might be about not waving some other charge. Or, not changing the sheets between guests. Or, sanitary practices in the kitchen.

    Imagine you have a nut allergy. And, every time you go into a restaurant, you relate that you have a nut allergy. At the hotel’s restaurant, the food server assures you that the kitchen uses NO nuts or nut oils in food preparation. So, you order. Two bites into your meal, your wife is calling 911. Just as the EMTs arrive, your heart stops. The EMTs revive you with adrenaline via a cardiac needle. You receive a (non-free) trip to the ER. This actually happened. I know this person. And, I’ve seen other incidents relating to other medical/health conditions.

    At one resort, a restaurant’s menu stated it had gluten-free dishes. Now, imagine that you are a newly appointed manager at that restaurant. As a restaurant manager, of course, you’re going to try the various dishes. And, because you have Celiac Disease, you’re only going to try the gluten-free dishes. And, then, you find out the hard way that the dishes are in fact not gluten-free. This actually happened. I know this person.

    Now, throw in a diabetic being served regular Coke after expressly ordering Diet Coke and having a reaction (albeit caught in time and mild). This actually happens all of the time. Then imagine a server being indifferent and unapologetic to the incident.

    Inattentive service has become the norm. And, its significance goes way beyond the $3.

  4. On a related note, my Gold status with Marriott entitles me to free high-speed Internet. So why am I still charged a full resort fee when one of the major items covered by the fee is Internet access?

    • Joe, if you read Marriott’s terms and conditions, it states an exception. If a given property charges non-elite guests for basic Internet access, then Gold and up receive high-speed Internet access free. But, if a given property gives all guests (non-elites as well) basic Internet for free, then all guests (including elites) must pay for high-speed Internet access. Yes, it is lame. But, there’s your reason.

    • PS If the Internet access is embedded in a resort fee, you can ask for a credit. But, ultimately, if Internet access is not a standalone fee (but rather embedded), the property can argue that it is “giving” Internet access to everyone and thus the rule I mentioned about the up-charge applies. Petty. But, then, we already know this about property owners.

  5. $2, $3, $4 it doesn’t matter, I am tired of being shafted for something I am suppose to get for free, or for a discounted rate, and then get charged the full amount. It is never ending, it is everywhere, the grocery store, reward programs, bogo shit that isn’t bogo at check out, just gets ridiculous as a consumer. I applaud your efforts! Grab that $3 and buy yourself a tall boy at the gas station and celebrate that victory!

  6. Whether it’s cheap or not, I do the same thing examining questionable charges and resolving with the merchant no matter how small.

    This also ties into taking a look item by item on your credit card bills to verify each amount is correct. It is amazing how many times an item is wrong, especially restaurant charges. Once we left cash as the tip, and we wrote ‘cash’ on the receipt but were charged a separate tip later on the CC. $10 and I went back to speak to the restaurant owner who argued with me that the bank allows the merchant to add tips to the charge – an absurd statement as he walked away and hid in the back. It took a second trip to that same restaurant and chasing the owner down to get the money back. Principled.

  7. $3 x lots = easy revenue source for the hotel.
    If overcharged guests don’t call them out, tell me again what incentive the hotel has to stop these bogus charges?

  8. I agree with the person who made the comment, call the call center, explain how you are VERY UPSET and feel violated and fear you won’t stay there again unless they offer a significant amount of points, merely for making you go through the hassle. It’s $3.00 plus $100 for your 20 minutes of time because that’s your salary. I also agree with others that as much as I feel disgruntled, I may not call at all because my time IS valuable. Sometimes, I write long letters of grievances in these types of matters, and sometimes not. No matter what you do, you can feel comfortable in knowing there are plenty of people just like you, people who work hard, take pride, and are conscientious about their money whether it be $3.00 or $3,000. I also like to “stand up for everyone else and stop rip offs from occurring to others”. I’m a big proponent of that.

  9. I would have done the same, on principle!!

    As for your statement about another hotel charging sales tax for a room stay, I have complained and gotten refunds too. But that money should not be a profit center. Tax is collected, not charged. And if the hotel is keeping it, that’s a criminal offense.

    Just food for thought.


  10. It’s a principal follow up thing
    obviously for 3 bucks it’s not worth it
    For everyone they refund thousands more don’t
    @ John
    Contacting the hotel is a waste of time
    Just call the call center and have them post or request the points

  11. I’m 100 percent in agreement with what you did. Another common overcharge is when hotel restaurants put higher prices in their computer than what it says on the menu because they want to keep up with inflation and they’re betting most customers won’t even notice. This has happened to me several times in recent months. Frankly, if anyone is going to get an extra 2 or 3 bucks from me I’d much prefer it be the waiter or waitress.

  12. No worse than the lady who was waiting for .25 cents from the old guy with a cain and shaky hands, for the grocery cart…”Well do you got it or not”…

  13. I agree with your thoughts and actions. I would intend to do the same but fear I’d forget to call.
    When parched in the future feel free to drink and enjoy our delicious and refreshing Lake Michigan water. It flows freely from any faucet in the city and most suburbs.

    • Patrick H,
      But I wouldn’t get that spiffy LondonHouse packaging with the Lake Michigan version! 😉

  14. I would do the same thing! Hold them accountable so that this doesn’t happen to someone who actually need that $3.

  15. Benjy, I applaud you because I would have done the exact same thing. Do I need the $3.00 – no. But the water is free for Diamonds. I am a Diamond and you are a Diamond and we want our perks.

  16. I am glad you went after them. I agree this helps keep them in line and should help from making this “mistake” again.

    Last month I stayed at the Intercontinental in Kuala Lumpur and never received my 600 IHG amenity reward points as promised when I checked in. The 600 points are worth roughly $3.00. I emailed the hotel about the missing points as soon as I returned to the USA and received a email back from someone at the hotel saying they would get back with me. That was about 10 days ago and I still have not received a response.

  17. I understand the principle but IMHO I wouldn’t have wasted my time. It isn’t worth $3 for me to call and take time to resolve it. However to each his own I guess.

  18. Good for you! As you surmise, and I suspect is correct, they charge everyone and make nice profit over what they should on a bottle of water that likely costs them about 20% of what they charge for it. It makes sense, too, because as a guy I worked for many years ago told me, “Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.”


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