Teaching consumers to suck eggs

Some advice in yesterdays Irish Independent from Michael Kilcoyne of the Consumer Association of Ireland. The article, Beware of hotel minibars fitted with sensors, detailed how some hotels were using sensors in their minibars to determine if people were using the highly overpriced items provided there-in.

One of my good friends actually used to work for a company that sold and install such systems in hotels. As alternatives, hotels either have to work according to the “honour system” and trust that people will own up to what they use, or send staff around to each room before people checked out to see what was being used.

Based on recent coverage (which I can’t find at the moment) where Irish consumers admitted that they wouldn’t normally return money if they were given too much change in a shop, you’d have to wonder how many people would fully admit to what they’d used in a mini-bar. And obviously hotels would reckon that the overhead of sending staff around would be too costly and inefficient. So we’re left with the sensors.

The article claims that even moving items within the mini-bar could incur the charge, and Mr.Kilcoyne tells customer not to pay for anything that they haven’t actually consumed. I would have thought that that’s standard practice. He adds that consumers should to check their bills to make sure they’re not charged – and to question any issues.

Maybe better advice would be to stay away completely from mini-bars where items are usually priced at massively overinflated prices than you’d pay in a normal shop.

Some interesting comments here about mini-bars in hotels.

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