Sunday, September 24, 2006


For the most part my readers think that hotels are wrong to pre-charge credit cards for reserved rooms.

Bill Wotring of Fullerton, Calif., found nothing wrong with the practice, however, as long as the hotel tells you that the charge will be made. When in doubt, he suggests, ask.

Stevie Book of Charlotte, N.C. disagrees."Hotels should not charge a credit card to hold a reservation until check-in or the cancellation-policy date has been met," she writes.

David Douey of Windsor, Ontario, considers the practice "unethical ... because you have not yet availed yourself of their services at all."

Carol Goodsell of Sherman, Ill., agrees, and also points out that such charges might affect a person's credit limit.

If you end up canceling your reservation, writes Cathy Olson of Foothill Ranch, Calif., extra steps will be needed to credit the charges: "Soon credit institutions will add transaction charges!"

Belinda Sanders of Cypress, Calif., wants to know where "the consideration, product, benefit or service" is for the consumer: "Let me go give the nearest tire dealer $500 to use for his own purposes -- until I happen to need new tires!"

Check out other opinions at or post your own by clicking on "comments" or "post a comment" below.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of "The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business" (Smith Kerr, 2006), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to or to "The Right Thing," New York Times Syndicate, 609 Greenwich St., 6th floor, New York, N.Y. 10014-3610. Please include your name, location, and contact information.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To those who object to hotels charging credit cards in advance: A hotel has a product to sell - rooms. When you reserve a room for a specific date, that room has been sold to you. It is taken out of circulation and held exclusively for you. Why should a hotel not be paid for that? Do you also object to paying in advance for airline tickets? Theater tickets? Putting a deposit down on a cruise reservation? What is the difference?

And to Belinda Sanders who asks faceciously if she should pay the tire dealer in advance: If you are asking the dealer to set aside a set of tires for you, to be held until you need them and not to be sold to anyone else, then yes you should pay in advance. If, however, you wish to take your chance that the tires will be available whenever you show up (or the hotel room will be available whenever you show) then do not bother making arrangements ahead of time.