Hotels Charging “Package Handling Fees”: Fair?

Hotels Charging “Package Handling Fees”: Fair?

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A reader emailed me a question about a hotel fee that’s becoming increasingly common, which I wanted to address in this post. I’ll share what I think, and then I’m curious to hear what the OMAAT community thinks.

Hotels charging fees to accept packages

There are all kinds of situations where it can be useful to have a package shipped to your hotel, either prior to your arrival or during your stay. Maybe you want to send some luggage ahead of time, or maybe you just need to order something from Amazon.

Almost across the board, having something shipped to a hotel you’re staying at shouldn’t be an issue. However, back in the day this consistently wouldn’t cost anything, while nowadays we’re seeing some hotels (especially large properties in major cities) monetize this service.

For example, an OMAAT reader shares that he’s going to stay at a Hyatt in Miami in the near future, and he emailed the hotel to inform them about having packages sent there. The hotel responded with a price list of how much this service costs, based on the weight of the package:

  • Under 1lb is free
  • 1-5lbs costs $5
  • 6-20lbs costs $10
  • 21-35lbs costs $20
  • 36-50lbs costs $40
  • 51lbs+ costs $40
  • A pallet costs $150

I haven’t heard of a tiered pricing model like this before, but rather there’s typically just a flat fee for accepting a package, for those hotels that do charge. So I guess to look at the bright side, you could have an envelope or letter shipped to the hotel for free… yay?

Some hotels are charging to accept packages

Is a package acceptance fee unreasonable?

As far as I know, no major hotel group has a policy against individual hotels charging fees to accept packages. Is it fair, though?

Well, it’s certainly not terribly hospitable, it leaves a bad impression with a guest before they even arrive, and it feels like nickel-and-diming.

However, this becoming an increasingly common trend shouldn’t be a surprise. We’ve seen owners of hotel investment companies urge the major hotel groups to stop giving things away, and to seek inspiration from ultra low cost carriers. From housekeeping and room service being reduced, to limited hours for restaurants, to club lounges remaining closed, this is all trying to accomplish the same thing — minimize costs and maximize revenue.

I can’t help but wonder if this policy was initially introduced because some people were really taking advantage of it, and having huge numbers of packages sent to hotels.

In fairness to hotels, accepting packages does take a bit of effort, in terms of accepting the package, storing it, and bringing it to the room, and on top of that there’s potential liability. Personally I find a package handling fee less offensive than just a blanket destination fee, though that’s not exactly an endorsement of the practice.

Is it reasonable for hotels to charge package delivery fees?

Bottom line

While I wouldn’t say it’s widespread (yet), it’s not uncommon nowadays to see hotels charge fees for accepting packages. This used to constantly be free, but unfortunately many hotels are now looking to Spirit Airlines rather than Singapore Airlines for inspiration on how to run their business.

What do you make of hotels charging package handling fees? Have you encountered this?

Conversations (41)
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  1. Michelle Guest

    Just was charged $7 by Embassy Suites Airport location in Miami to get an envelope less than a pound. Came with a nasty attitude that was complimentary from the desk receptionist. Well, another case of stepping over $100 bill to pick up a penny. We belong to the Hilton Honors reward ‘club’, so being charged for an envelope, that I was originally denied her effort to acknowledge its custody, leaves a really bad taste in...

    Just was charged $7 by Embassy Suites Airport location in Miami to get an envelope less than a pound. Came with a nasty attitude that was complimentary from the desk receptionist. Well, another case of stepping over $100 bill to pick up a penny. We belong to the Hilton Honors reward ‘club’, so being charged for an envelope, that I was originally denied her effort to acknowledge its custody, leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. I could understand if it was being delivered to my room, large, or otherwise a burden, having a charge, but at least be consistent and put it in writing somewhere.
    We have traveled through the pandemic and the current employee scarcity, so we are very understanding and patient when things happen, but this was over the top for us. I’m expecting an overnight fed ex envelope tomorrow morning, so I hope there isn’t a charge for waiting in the lobby and accepting my own letter.

  2. Ricardo Guest

    It is a fair fee in my opinion. You are removing an employee from FOH duties, to receive, store, and retrieve a package, not to mention, a potential for assumed liability for that package. While I would love for it to be free, this is a fee I would gladly pay if I needed something delivered to my hotel.

  3. Amt Guest

    If it’s a 2 or 3 star hotel fine, such services are not considered standard in that category.

    If a five or a four star hotel removes services that the industry considers standard and they advertise for their class of hotel. Such as business services, like the ability to receive a package. They aren’t offering the product they advertised and sold to the consumer.

    Now a fair use policy, sure. If a hotel wants...

    If it’s a 2 or 3 star hotel fine, such services are not considered standard in that category.

    If a five or a four star hotel removes services that the industry considers standard and they advertise for their class of hotel. Such as business services, like the ability to receive a package. They aren’t offering the product they advertised and sold to the consumer.

    Now a fair use policy, sure. If a hotel wants to say I can’t use their meeting room for more than 2 hours, or I can’t bring 4 guests to their lounge or printing a 600 page document will incur a charge, or indeed if I want to receive a dozen packages. I consider it acceptable to apply an additional charge.

  4. iamhere Guest

    There is no effort involved in the hotel accepting packages. They all have a storage room where suitcases or other things are kept for guests if they arrive before their room is ready or want to explore the area after they check out. At least this reader was told in advance of the package fee. I once received packages at a hotel and was surprised to find the fee on the bill. That's unacceptable. Also,...

    There is no effort involved in the hotel accepting packages. They all have a storage room where suitcases or other things are kept for guests if they arrive before their room is ready or want to explore the area after they check out. At least this reader was told in advance of the package fee. I once received packages at a hotel and was surprised to find the fee on the bill. That's unacceptable. Also, I think it depends on the number of packages. If you just receive one or two small packages, it should be different than a lot of packages. It is clear that more of the hotel chains are pushing the handling of complaints down to the individual hotel as well.

  5. Bob Guest

    I think it's reasonable because some customers might send luggage and we all know people like to pack their entire closet plus their tv and microwave if they could. That means someone in the hotel will need to handle heavy packages = potential injuries = liability insurance.

  6. Hapless Reader Guest

    There is another important factor you missed. This might be designed as a deterrent to a mail-order scam being reported by hotels. Packages are delivered for a not yet checked in customer who needs it forwarded--and one thing that can do is make it hard for the original sender to locate a parcel whose payment was canceled.

  7. Donna Diamond

    I sometimes receive a FedEx overnight envelope at hotels and I’ve never been charged. It’s not unreasonable to charge for package and pallets in my view.

  8. AC Guest

    I think it is fine. It does cost them and isn't remotely included in renting the room. In the past many hotels charged for incoming or outgoing faxes so don't see why this is that different

  9. TybeeDawg Guest

    I've seen this for years at resorts, and larger hotels, more times than not my packages were lost and I never received them. That is when I started using Amazon Lockers, Amazon Pick-Up locations, Fedex, and UPS package holding locations near my hotel. And in some instances, a friend, or associate that lived in the area. I do not trust hotels to handle my deliveries, much less pay them for the trouble.

  10. Crosscourt Guest

    For a country that talks about service, the usa is going down the gurgler and charging for packages is just another example. Travelling in the usa is a nightmare at the best of times with atrocious airline service and hotels that overcharge and couldn't care less etc. What the heck is going on? Americans seem to just accept the nonsense.

    1. henare Diamond

      Frankly, I've *never* seen this "talk of service" that you're banging on about. Anyone with two functioning neurons knows that the US service culture runs on the back of underpaid non-professionals.

  11. D3kingg Guest

    Ben if you only saw the size of these packages and once you said Miami Immediately imagine someone sending a massive cargo item from Central America or Carribean to “hold onto”

  12. Tracy Guest

    I've used this service before while on vacation for my online shopping. Less time in the shopping center, more time sightseeing. The fees different hotels quoted me seemed arbitrary: from $0 to a flat $5 per package. It didn't matter how long the package sat in the hotel storage room. I also had to pick up my packages from reception which was fine with me.

    Obviously $0 is nicest for me, although I'm...

    I've used this service before while on vacation for my online shopping. Less time in the shopping center, more time sightseeing. The fees different hotels quoted me seemed arbitrary: from $0 to a flat $5 per package. It didn't matter how long the package sat in the hotel storage room. I also had to pick up my packages from reception which was fine with me.

    Obviously $0 is nicest for me, although I'm pretty sure if the hotel charged a fee for accepting and storing a package, that's a legally-enforcible contract that exposes them to liability if something were to go wrong with the package.

  13. Phil M Guest

    I think these fees are lame, but if a hotel charges a fee for accepting packages I wouldn't change the hotel I'm staying at just because of that (though I might not book a second stay there).

    But in any big city there are usually drop-off centres for amazon packages, and the like, and those are usually free. I'd use that instead, if it was within a reasonable distance.

    Meanwhile, nobody's talking about so-called "luxury"...

    I think these fees are lame, but if a hotel charges a fee for accepting packages I wouldn't change the hotel I'm staying at just because of that (though I might not book a second stay there).

    But in any big city there are usually drop-off centres for amazon packages, and the like, and those are usually free. I'd use that instead, if it was within a reasonable distance.

    Meanwhile, nobody's talking about so-called "luxury" hotels that provide the cheapest, thinnest toilet paper on the planet. If I'm paying hundreds of dollars a night for a room, I want some quality TP, damn it!

  14. XPL Diamond

    Nearly every time I come to the U.S. I have one or two things shipped to my hotel. I expect them to take reasonable care in receiving and storing my mail, and I expect to pay for that service. I'd actually be mildly concerned if I weren't being charged, because that would imply a lackadaisical attitude toward my mail.

  15. Tom Guest

    Pre-pandemic, I've occasionally had things delivered while traveling for work and while I've semi-commonly seen fees in the 3-5$ range listed in the hotel policies, hotels have almost universally actually proactively waived those fees without me saying a thing.

    I think the big distinction ought to be between those folks who are abusing it by having multiple packages sent (and potentially letting them linger in the baggage closet for a few days) vs a person...

    Pre-pandemic, I've occasionally had things delivered while traveling for work and while I've semi-commonly seen fees in the 3-5$ range listed in the hotel policies, hotels have almost universally actually proactively waived those fees without me saying a thing.

    I think the big distinction ought to be between those folks who are abusing it by having multiple packages sent (and potentially letting them linger in the baggage closet for a few days) vs a person who might have one thing delivered (particularly if they are able to come right down and pick up the package within a few minutes of delivery).

    Particularly while traveling, that one thing might be a replacement credit card or ID or similar being rush delivered that really enables the rest of the trip to go much more smoothly - it just adds friction to have a fee in those circumstances when you're traveling as an individual. And of course, if substantial freight is being sent along (e.g. ahead of a conference) then I think its perfectly fine for a hotel to charge that commercial audience.

  16. simmonad Guest

    "seek inspiration from ultra low cost carriers"

    Does Hyatt want to be mentioned in the same breath as Ryanair or Spirit?

  17. Jerry Diamond

    I had a hotel in Miami attempt to charge me $10 for some documents I had fedexed to me from my office. I told them to just keep the package, and the fee suddenly was waived.

    1. Jehosaphat Guest

      Being in the business I can say that yes, many people do take advantage of it and have multiple items shipped to the hotel to avoid haveing to pay to check it on the plane. And the liability issue is a big one as we did not ask for the package yet we become responsible for it. I like the tiered model as it will deter the worst offenders.

  18. Rich Guest

    I've seen charges ranging from zero for a reasonably-sized package to $20 for a small Amazon package. If I'm going to have a package or envelope shipped to a hotel I now always call to ask what the fee will be. I call from my mobile phone even if I'm already onsite so that I have a record of making the call, even if not of the content.

    At the JW Marriott in Washington DC,...

    I've seen charges ranging from zero for a reasonably-sized package to $20 for a small Amazon package. If I'm going to have a package or envelope shipped to a hotel I now always call to ask what the fee will be. I call from my mobile phone even if I'm already onsite so that I have a record of making the call, even if not of the content.

    At the JW Marriott in Washington DC, I called and was told there would be no fee, then I was charged $5 when the package arrived. I disputed it and was told "the person who told you there was no fee was mistaken." I said "I called and asked what the fee would be. Your agent told me zero and I relied on that. What else should I have done?" The front desk reluctantly comped the fee as a "one-time courtesy".

  19. Grey Diamond

    I noticed this when I visited the US last summer. My bank card was damaged and I needed a new one sent, but a couple of the hotels we looked at charged a fee for receiving packages. So we gave our business to a property that was not charging for that. It just seemed ridiculous to pay 5 USD or something for them to receive an envelope.
    But as others have said, if someone...

    I noticed this when I visited the US last summer. My bank card was damaged and I needed a new one sent, but a couple of the hotels we looked at charged a fee for receiving packages. So we gave our business to a property that was not charging for that. It just seemed ridiculous to pay 5 USD or something for them to receive an envelope.
    But as others have said, if someone is abusing the system, maybe more than 1 reasonably sized package per day of stay or something, I could see how they would want to have some policy to cover this. Maybe 10 envelopes and 1 parcel of maximum checked baggage size up to 32 kg per day. Or something like that, just to have a policy and prevent excess.

  20. Brian Guest

    Manchester Grand Hyatt has a charge, first package rolled into the resort fee. I felt that the extra charge for this service is warranted and comping the first one a fair compromise. I had a small Amazon package of things I forgot to pack, others using the service were conventioneers with dozens of heavy boxes tying up baggage carts.

  21. Sean M. Diamond

    $150 to receive and store a pallet is cheaper than some warehouses. I wonder if they are certified to store DG in which case that's a really good deal.

    1. Gilles repond Guest

      I always disputed the charge and always had it waived (hyatt globalist). That happens only in the US as usual ... fees feees fees

    2. Mike Smith Guest

      I am an ex-hotelier. While I understand that a small envelope or a light package does not cause much stress to the system, imagine receiving huge volumes per person. This obviously impacts big box hotels more than the boutique ones but still something to manage, requiring manpower. Most of the time, this fee goes straight to the bellmen/ business center who receive and deliver these packages. So disputing it like an entitled person doesn't help....

      I am an ex-hotelier. While I understand that a small envelope or a light package does not cause much stress to the system, imagine receiving huge volumes per person. This obviously impacts big box hotels more than the boutique ones but still something to manage, requiring manpower. Most of the time, this fee goes straight to the bellmen/ business center who receive and deliver these packages. So disputing it like an entitled person doesn't help. You should understand why the fee exists.

      This is prevalent in US because expenses related to payroll is higher. In many Asian countries, I don't even have to press a button to call for an elevator. There is a person for that. Also, many of the western nations have package handing fee so your claim of "this happens only in the US" is not really valid.

    3. John Guest

      DG......[droool, splatter, splatter]

  22. Lee Guest

    There are two separate issues in play: 1) whether to charge fees at all and 2) how each guest is charged. When a hotel accepts a package, it becomes a "bailee" (almost like a trustee) and legally liable for its safekeeping. Fair and reasonable compensation is appropriate. As a consumer, you make your choice. Separately, hotels want a standardized rule that is uniformly applied so no one has to make a judgment call. Awkward moment...

    There are two separate issues in play: 1) whether to charge fees at all and 2) how each guest is charged. When a hotel accepts a package, it becomes a "bailee" (almost like a trustee) and legally liable for its safekeeping. Fair and reasonable compensation is appropriate. As a consumer, you make your choice. Separately, hotels want a standardized rule that is uniformly applied so no one has to make a judgment call. Awkward moment to be avoided: Why am I the lucky jerk you charged and not this other guy?

  23. ECR12 Guest

    I'm with tony on this one. Charging a resort fee at a 3 star hotel in a small city is obscene and I'd support efforts to force these mandatory fees to be included in room rates, but I have no problem with this one. The vast majority of people arent using these services, so unless a hotel is worried about losing the business of a specific repeat customer I don't see any reason they shouldnt consider charging for their efforts.

  24. Omar Guest

    I'm surprised there has been no post on Biden mentioning resort fees at the state of the union once again. That seems more salient than this post.

  25. HT Guest

    I'm ambivalent. I think the tier system shown is probably a bit much, but I would have no problem being charged for the following:

    1. A large number of packages (maybe >3?)
    2. Heavy packages (that's a liability for the employees of the hotel, they could hurt themselves)
    3. A pallet

  26. Khatl Diamond

    It's fair if it's multiple packages to support a convention or similar. It's ridiculous if you're charged for a single item, subject to say the size of a suitcase (I say suitcase, as hotels store suitcases for free). While I'm on the fence about a charge to bring it to the room (and no charge to pick up at reception), I'd note they don't charge to bring suitcases to the room, only tips.

  27. Tony Guest

    I hate ancillary fees in the travel industries as much as anyone else. But I think this one is fair. Most guests don't use this service and its cost should be borne by users of this service.

  28. Stuart Guest

    Been around for years. Especially in NYC, Vegas, etc. Not saying it's right but not at all new. It's normally at mid level large convention oriented hotels. You will not see this as common at Four Seasons etc nor at lower level properties like Hyatt Place. Go back in time and you even had fees years ago for received and sent fax and for copies. Again, mostly at larger convention properties.

  29. Steve Guest

    If you work in the tradeshow industry or work for a company that participates in trade shows, you will know that this is common at hotels near convention center/ballrooms. Makes sense to me to do this as it is very difficult for venues to maintain space available to house these items.

  30. Tony Guest

    I regularly ship packages to hotels and, while I agree that it's usually not an issue, I've certainly encountered my fair share of problems (they just lose them, and then no one talks to anyone else, so every time the shift changes your search starts anew).

    I'd happily pay the fee if it meant being assured that your package won't be mishandled, though I suspect in reality they'll just take the fee and not exercise any more care than they would anyway.

  31. DenB Diamond

    This is another case where businesses claim "abuse" by customers and begin charging non-abusive customers. Any property that charges me to receive fewer than 3 deliveries of modest weight and size, or charges me to receive up to a dozen envelopes and store them for less than a week, is nickel-and-diming offensively. To use currentl lame business parlance, I wish I could accept the charges but unfortunately it's against my policy.

    1. Steve Guest

      So more than 3 packages or 12 envelopes it's ok to charge? Get out of here.

    2. DenB Diamond

      Thanks for the feedback. I'm not committed to the number. My point is that for a normal guest who isn't being "abusive" there should be no charge whatsoever. Are we actually in agreement? Get out of here.

    3. Steve Guest

      Normal guests don't ship stuff to hotels. They bring what they need with them or buy when onsite.

  32. Jim Guest

    This is one of the few "ancillary fees" that, if reasonable in amount, doesn't bother me as much: The hotel will have to handle and potentially store the item, there's the risk of loss or damage, etc.

    In general, though, as a matter of principle, I have gotten to a point where I will stay elsewhere - even at a higher total cost - when ridiculous fees show up.

  33. SamG Guest

    I used to work for a hotel group that had a union property in NYC and the door staff used to charge us (the management) a package handling fee to bring them up to the exec offices! So this doesn't surprise me

    To be honest it's not completely unreasonable, they take admin and storage space and particularly in the US some overseas tourists really go to town on online shopping before they arrive

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Sean M. Diamond

$150 to receive and store a pallet is cheaper than some warehouses. I wonder if they are certified to store DG in which case that's a really good deal.

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Jim Guest

This is one of the few "ancillary fees" that, if reasonable in amount, doesn't bother me as much: The hotel will have to handle and potentially store the item, there's the risk of loss or damage, etc. In general, though, as a matter of principle, I have gotten to a point where I will stay elsewhere - even at a higher total cost - when ridiculous fees show up.

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Donna Diamond

I sometimes receive a FedEx overnight envelope at hotels and I’ve never been charged. It’s not unreasonable to charge for package and pallets in my view.

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