Why do guests act surprised that they have a balance due at check-out?

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Don Draper

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We take a 50% deposit on all reservations, then when the guests stay we take care of the balance and the tax at check-out. This year we've just had a rash of people bolting out the door and looking completely shocked when we say "Oh, just a second I have your invoice here to go over with you." So then you go over the invoice and they just stand there looking at you...so then you say "We can take care of this with cash, check or charge". Oh, you need to swipe my card?
We put this info in the confirmation (I know, no one reads it) and I understand that at most hotels you can just check-out and they use the card "on file"...but the card "on file" is not the one you made the reservation with but the one you handed them when they checked in. We don't ask for any card at check-in, so wouldn't you assume you'd have to do SOMETHING to settle up before leaving?
Is it tacky to put up a sign at the front desk, something to the effect of "Please see one of the innkeepers before your departure to make final payment" or something along those lines? It just always makes me laugh that people are SHOCKED that we might want to get payed!!!!
 

Morticia

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Maybe during the check-in process when you have them sign in, go over what they will owe on check-out and explain you will take care of that when they depart.
We get the same thing on check-IN, 'Oh, I thought we paid you already. You took our credit card number, can't you just use that?'
 

EmptyNest

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Maybe during the check-in process when you have them sign in, go over what they will owe on check-out and explain you will take care of that when they depart.
We get the same thing on check-IN, 'Oh, I thought we paid you already. You took our credit card number, can't you just use that?'.
That is why we collect when they check in.:)
When they say "we thought we paid already" we explain that the credit card was just to secure the reservation. Which we also tell them in their confirmation letter. Then say.."it is cheaper for us to run the card rather than hand code it in" Has not been a problem. And if fact sometimes they use a different card. Didn't matter to us.
 

seashanty

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i took credit card deposit, balance at check IN. i got paid, you got your keys.
small percentage would say they thought they had paid the entire amount as deposit. makes you wonder if and when people read their credit card statement. had a fair number who now had a different credit card number.
i preferred any 'hassle' at the beginning. logistically, it was just too much for me to handle multiple checkouts with payments solo ... it's hard enough reclaiming the keys! guest: 'oh! (feigned surprise) the key? hmmm. i think i left it in the room? or, no, maybe it's in the car?'
i have stayed at a place that has their room keys fastened to big wooden apples, about the size of a large macintosh. you can't fit it in a pocket and i wonder if it cuts down on losing the keys.
 

Don Draper

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I know we've discussed this backwards, forwards and sideways on here. Hands down it is better for us to collect payment at check out, we get many more gift shop sales, etc. We don't require anyone to sign anything on the way in, just give them their key and the check-in spiel. It's just the last few months in particular that people seem so surprised to have to PAY.
Any comments on the sign idea?
 

Innkeeper To Go

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Skip the sign.
But at registration get them to sign in and swipe the card they'll be using.
Always a great idea, if you have the time and the privacy at the time, to review what they've paid already and haven't paid at registration.
But even if you don't, the key is to get their authorization at that time to charge any incidentals and any remaining room charges to the credit card they have presented to you. Make sure your registration, whatever you're using, includes that small print just above their signature.
That's all you need. You don't really need their signature necessarily on the credit card slip. But you do need their signature authorizing the charges and it's okay for them to authorize that in advance.
Skiip the sign. But don't skip the signature at check-in.
 

Don Draper

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Skip the sign.
But at registration get them to sign in and swipe the card they'll be using.
Always a great idea, if you have the time and the privacy at the time, to review what they've paid already and haven't paid at registration.
But even if you don't, the key is to get their authorization at that time to charge any incidentals and any remaining room charges to the credit card they have presented to you. Make sure your registration, whatever you're using, includes that small print just above their signature.
That's all you need. You don't really need their signature necessarily on the credit card slip. But you do need their signature authorizing the charges and it's okay for them to authorize that in advance.
Skiip the sign. But don't skip the signature at check-in..
Our terminal is set up as retail, not lodging so we can't do the swipe and then close it out later (another LONG story on that setup but it's not going to change).
Every time we've tried doing the payment at check-in it creates a very awkward dynamic...I'd rather spend the time welcoming them to the Inn and getting them settled than demanding payment.
We have a little area where guests return their room keys, I am going to try putting a small sign there about payment before departure.
 

Innkeeper To Go

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Skip the sign.
But at registration get them to sign in and swipe the card they'll be using.
Always a great idea, if you have the time and the privacy at the time, to review what they've paid already and haven't paid at registration.
But even if you don't, the key is to get their authorization at that time to charge any incidentals and any remaining room charges to the credit card they have presented to you. Make sure your registration, whatever you're using, includes that small print just above their signature.
That's all you need. You don't really need their signature necessarily on the credit card slip. But you do need their signature authorizing the charges and it's okay for them to authorize that in advance.
Skiip the sign. But don't skip the signature at check-in..
Our terminal is set up as retail, not lodging so we can't do the swipe and then close it out later (another LONG story on that setup but it's not going to change).
Every time we've tried doing the payment at check-in it creates a very awkward dynamic...I'd rather spend the time welcoming them to the Inn and getting them settled than demanding payment.
We have a little area where guests return their room keys, I am going to try putting a small sign there about payment before departure.
.
Even if you can't swipe the card, you can still get the signature and the card number can be hand-written on the same registration - or it can simply refer back to the credit card on file (the one they used for the reservation and/or deposit)
 

Morticia

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Skip the sign.
But at registration get them to sign in and swipe the card they'll be using.
Always a great idea, if you have the time and the privacy at the time, to review what they've paid already and haven't paid at registration.
But even if you don't, the key is to get their authorization at that time to charge any incidentals and any remaining room charges to the credit card they have presented to you. Make sure your registration, whatever you're using, includes that small print just above their signature.
That's all you need. You don't really need their signature necessarily on the credit card slip. But you do need their signature authorizing the charges and it's okay for them to authorize that in advance.
Skiip the sign. But don't skip the signature at check-in..
Our terminal is set up as retail, not lodging so we can't do the swipe and then close it out later (another LONG story on that setup but it's not going to change).
Every time we've tried doing the payment at check-in it creates a very awkward dynamic...I'd rather spend the time welcoming them to the Inn and getting them settled than demanding payment.
We have a little area where guests return their room keys, I am going to try putting a small sign there about payment before departure.
.
You may still want to mention payment when they check-in. I think you'll be amazed at how many guests don't see that sign asking for them to find you to make their payment when they leave. But, yes, put the sign up.
If it's possible, try to talk to your processor about the different rates for retail and lodging, you may be paying more than you need to. Unless your retail sales far outweigh your lodging sales, it may save you money to get set up as lodging. Maybe not, all of this depends on the processor.
 

Suzie Q

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Maybe during the check-in process when you have them sign in, go over what they will owe on check-out and explain you will take care of that when they depart.
We get the same thing on check-IN, 'Oh, I thought we paid you already. You took our credit card number, can't you just use that?'.
That is why we collect when they check in.:)
When they say "we thought we paid already" we explain that the credit card was just to secure the reservation. Which we also tell them in their confirmation letter. Then say.."it is cheaper for us to run the card rather than hand code it in" Has not been a problem. And if fact sometimes they use a different card. Didn't matter to us.
.
This pretty much sounds present tense. You're not back in business, are you?
 

seashanty

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since you want to get payment at checkout, i like the idea of telling them at check-in
i used to print out their balance at checkin ... and tell them you will be collecting payment at checkout -- tell them before you hand them a key so they seem to be listening.
now as for the shock at payment mentality, that is a certain breed of people
i stand behind them in check out lines. after their groceries are rung up, they seem stunned when the cashier asks for the money. THEN they fumble in purses and pockets for wallets. C.R.A.Z.Y.
 

swirt

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A sign on the wall ... Sadly the same people that don't read their confirmation/instructions are the same ones that don't read wall signs. I don't think the wall sign will help you much.
Is there a good reason why you are set up as retail that would make it worth having less protection from chargebacks?
If they don't sign something on arrival (even if it is not for payment) how do you get on record that they agree to pay for damages or agree to any other policies?
I understand the part about charging them at checkout, to increase your shop sales, but I don't understand the lack of making sure you are coverered in the event things go bad.
 

Don Draper

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A sign on the wall ... Sadly the same people that don't read their confirmation/instructions are the same ones that don't read wall signs. I don't think the wall sign will help you much.
Is there a good reason why you are set up as retail that would make it worth having less protection from chargebacks?
If they don't sign something on arrival (even if it is not for payment) how do you get on record that they agree to pay for damages or agree to any other policies?
I understand the part about charging them at checkout, to increase your shop sales, but I don't understand the lack of making sure you are coverered in the event things go bad..
It's a long convoluted story with the cc processor but it is easier for us to be set up as retail, and there is no additional charge back protection if you are set up for lodging, all it gives you is the extra step of having to remember to go in every day and "Check out" each person. Remember we have 9 rooms, many people to keep track of and this extra step was just one of the reasons for being set up this way.
We don't have guests sign anything...even if you do the cc is not going to pay for damages anyway. It doesn't give you any additional chargeback protection.
They agree to our policies when they book online, which is why we offer an online booking discount.
The sign is just to let them know HEY, you have to PAY for your STAY, THANKS! It'll help at least a little bit. I'm just tired of the totally shocked look when I explain they have a balance due!
 

Samster

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A sign on the wall ... Sadly the same people that don't read their confirmation/instructions are the same ones that don't read wall signs. I don't think the wall sign will help you much.
Is there a good reason why you are set up as retail that would make it worth having less protection from chargebacks?
If they don't sign something on arrival (even if it is not for payment) how do you get on record that they agree to pay for damages or agree to any other policies?
I understand the part about charging them at checkout, to increase your shop sales, but I don't understand the lack of making sure you are coverered in the event things go bad..
It's a long convoluted story with the cc processor but it is easier for us to be set up as retail, and there is no additional charge back protection if you are set up for lodging, all it gives you is the extra step of having to remember to go in every day and "Check out" each person. Remember we have 9 rooms, many people to keep track of and this extra step was just one of the reasons for being set up this way.
We don't have guests sign anything...even if you do the cc is not going to pay for damages anyway. It doesn't give you any additional chargeback protection.
They agree to our policies when they book online, which is why we offer an online booking discount.
The sign is just to let them know HEY, you have to PAY for your STAY, THANKS! It'll help at least a little bit. I'm just tired of the totally shocked look when I explain they have a balance due!
.
I have a lodging set-up on my machine and just have them settle at check-in. It's easier for me to keep track of that they've paid by doing it that way, but we're ll different. :) If I had retail items, I'd just run them as a separate charge when they checked out. I hate signs and think most people ignore them. Maybe a gentle reminder as you are checking them in and giving them the inn tour that they have no worries about their remaining balance for their stay, you'll be happy to take care of it when they are leaving. Lots of our folks also use a different card than what they put down online when they booked.
 

swirt

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A sign on the wall ... Sadly the same people that don't read their confirmation/instructions are the same ones that don't read wall signs. I don't think the wall sign will help you much.
Is there a good reason why you are set up as retail that would make it worth having less protection from chargebacks?
If they don't sign something on arrival (even if it is not for payment) how do you get on record that they agree to pay for damages or agree to any other policies?
I understand the part about charging them at checkout, to increase your shop sales, but I don't understand the lack of making sure you are coverered in the event things go bad..
It's a long convoluted story with the cc processor but it is easier for us to be set up as retail, and there is no additional charge back protection if you are set up for lodging, all it gives you is the extra step of having to remember to go in every day and "Check out" each person. Remember we have 9 rooms, many people to keep track of and this extra step was just one of the reasons for being set up this way.
We don't have guests sign anything...even if you do the cc is not going to pay for damages anyway. It doesn't give you any additional chargeback protection.
They agree to our policies when they book online, which is why we offer an online booking discount.
The sign is just to let them know HEY, you have to PAY for your STAY, THANKS! It'll help at least a little bit. I'm just tired of the totally shocked look when I explain they have a balance due!
.
We don't have guests sign anything...even if you do the cc is not going to pay for damages anyway. It doesn't give you any additional chargeback protection.
I think you'll find a few innkeepers here that will disagree with that. If you have it worded correctly, you can defend adequately against a chargeback.
...all it gives you is the extra step of having to remember to go in every day and "Check out" each person.
You can be set up as lodging and not have to do the extra step. Yes it creates better records, but the extra step is not mandatory. We don't do the extra step. We used to charge at checkout. But this past year we switched to charging at check-in (we have no shop to sell anything) and it made life a lot easier.
 

Innkeeper To Go

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A sign on the wall ... Sadly the same people that don't read their confirmation/instructions are the same ones that don't read wall signs. I don't think the wall sign will help you much.
Is there a good reason why you are set up as retail that would make it worth having less protection from chargebacks?
If they don't sign something on arrival (even if it is not for payment) how do you get on record that they agree to pay for damages or agree to any other policies?
I understand the part about charging them at checkout, to increase your shop sales, but I don't understand the lack of making sure you are coverered in the event things go bad..
It's a long convoluted story with the cc processor but it is easier for us to be set up as retail, and there is no additional charge back protection if you are set up for lodging, all it gives you is the extra step of having to remember to go in every day and "Check out" each person. Remember we have 9 rooms, many people to keep track of and this extra step was just one of the reasons for being set up this way.
We don't have guests sign anything...even if you do the cc is not going to pay for damages anyway. It doesn't give you any additional chargeback protection.
They agree to our policies when they book online, which is why we offer an online booking discount.
The sign is just to let them know HEY, you have to PAY for your STAY, THANKS! It'll help at least a little bit. I'm just tired of the totally shocked look when I explain they have a balance due!
.
We don't have guests sign anything...even if you do the cc is not going to pay for damages anyway. It doesn't give you any additional chargeback protection.
I think you'll find a few innkeepers here that will disagree with that. If you have it worded correctly, you can defend adequately against a chargeback.
...all it gives you is the extra step of having to remember to go in every day and "Check out" each person.
You can be set up as lodging and not have to do the extra step. Yes it creates better records, but the extra step is not mandatory. We don't do the extra step. We used to charge at checkout. But this past year we switched to charging at check-in (we have no shop to sell anything) and it made life a lot easier.
.
swirt said:
If you have it worded correctly, you can defend adequately against a chargeback. .
Agreed. Chargebacks shouldn't inspire fear; they should inspire action to make sure all those ducks are in a row to begin with so you don't get any in the future.
As long as there's a signature authorizing the charge - and the wording is such to allow the charge to fall within the credit card issuer's parameters - you're okay.
But the signature is necessary. Absolutely necessary. And required not only to prevent the chargeback but also to be in compliance with the merchant agreement.
The best way to prevent a chargeback is to be so very clear upfront, to get the guest's signature, to have clear policies that were communicated to the guest, and to provide the promised service.
The best way to get chargebacks is to be sloppy with paperwork. There are folks out there who live to scam. And they'll do it whenever there's an opening. Don't give them that opening.
Innkeepers who skip steps are bringing trouble to themselves, not preventing problems from happening.
 

Don Draper

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A sign on the wall ... Sadly the same people that don't read their confirmation/instructions are the same ones that don't read wall signs. I don't think the wall sign will help you much.
Is there a good reason why you are set up as retail that would make it worth having less protection from chargebacks?
If they don't sign something on arrival (even if it is not for payment) how do you get on record that they agree to pay for damages or agree to any other policies?
I understand the part about charging them at checkout, to increase your shop sales, but I don't understand the lack of making sure you are coverered in the event things go bad..
It's a long convoluted story with the cc processor but it is easier for us to be set up as retail, and there is no additional charge back protection if you are set up for lodging, all it gives you is the extra step of having to remember to go in every day and "Check out" each person. Remember we have 9 rooms, many people to keep track of and this extra step was just one of the reasons for being set up this way.
We don't have guests sign anything...even if you do the cc is not going to pay for damages anyway. It doesn't give you any additional chargeback protection.
They agree to our policies when they book online, which is why we offer an online booking discount.
The sign is just to let them know HEY, you have to PAY for your STAY, THANKS! It'll help at least a little bit. I'm just tired of the totally shocked look when I explain they have a balance due!
.
We don't have guests sign anything...even if you do the cc is not going to pay for damages anyway. It doesn't give you any additional chargeback protection.
I think you'll find a few innkeepers here that will disagree with that. If you have it worded correctly, you can defend adequately against a chargeback.
...all it gives you is the extra step of having to remember to go in every day and "Check out" each person.
You can be set up as lodging and not have to do the extra step. Yes it creates better records, but the extra step is not mandatory. We don't do the extra step. We used to charge at checkout. But this past year we switched to charging at check-in (we have no shop to sell anything) and it made life a lot easier.
.
swirt said:
If you have it worded correctly, you can defend adequately against a chargeback. .
Agreed. Chargebacks shouldn't inspire fear; they should inspire action to make sure all those ducks are in a row to begin with so you don't get any in the future.
As long as there's a signature authorizing the charge - and the wording is such to allow the charge to fall within the credit card issuer's parameters - you're okay.
But the signature is necessary. Absolutely necessary. And required not only to prevent the chargeback but also to be in compliance with the merchant agreement.
The best way to prevent a chargeback is to be so very clear upfront, to get the guest's signature, to have clear policies that were communicated to the guest, and to provide the promised service.
The best way to get chargebacks is to be sloppy with paperwork. There are folks out there who live to scam. And they'll do it whenever there's an opening. Don't give them that opening.
Innkeepers who skip steps are bringing trouble to themselves, not preventing problems from happening.
.
We have a signature for the credit card charge. Luckily we've never had a chargeback so it's not an issue.
I'm closing this thread now as it's gotten so far off of the original question.
 

swirt

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A sign on the wall ... Sadly the same people that don't read their confirmation/instructions are the same ones that don't read wall signs. I don't think the wall sign will help you much.
Is there a good reason why you are set up as retail that would make it worth having less protection from chargebacks?
If they don't sign something on arrival (even if it is not for payment) how do you get on record that they agree to pay for damages or agree to any other policies?
I understand the part about charging them at checkout, to increase your shop sales, but I don't understand the lack of making sure you are coverered in the event things go bad..
It's a long convoluted story with the cc processor but it is easier for us to be set up as retail, and there is no additional charge back protection if you are set up for lodging, all it gives you is the extra step of having to remember to go in every day and "Check out" each person. Remember we have 9 rooms, many people to keep track of and this extra step was just one of the reasons for being set up this way.
We don't have guests sign anything...even if you do the cc is not going to pay for damages anyway. It doesn't give you any additional chargeback protection.
They agree to our policies when they book online, which is why we offer an online booking discount.
The sign is just to let them know HEY, you have to PAY for your STAY, THANKS! It'll help at least a little bit. I'm just tired of the totally shocked look when I explain they have a balance due!
.
We don't have guests sign anything...even if you do the cc is not going to pay for damages anyway. It doesn't give you any additional chargeback protection.
I think you'll find a few innkeepers here that will disagree with that. If you have it worded correctly, you can defend adequately against a chargeback.
...all it gives you is the extra step of having to remember to go in every day and "Check out" each person.
You can be set up as lodging and not have to do the extra step. Yes it creates better records, but the extra step is not mandatory. We don't do the extra step. We used to charge at checkout. But this past year we switched to charging at check-in (we have no shop to sell anything) and it made life a lot easier.
.
swirt said:
If you have it worded correctly, you can defend adequately against a chargeback. .
Agreed. Chargebacks shouldn't inspire fear; they should inspire action to make sure all those ducks are in a row to begin with so you don't get any in the future.
As long as there's a signature authorizing the charge - and the wording is such to allow the charge to fall within the credit card issuer's parameters - you're okay.
But the signature is necessary. Absolutely necessary. And required not only to prevent the chargeback but also to be in compliance with the merchant agreement.
The best way to prevent a chargeback is to be so very clear upfront, to get the guest's signature, to have clear policies that were communicated to the guest, and to provide the promised service.
The best way to get chargebacks is to be sloppy with paperwork. There are folks out there who live to scam. And they'll do it whenever there's an opening. Don't give them that opening.
Innkeepers who skip steps are bringing trouble to themselves, not preventing problems from happening.
.
We have a signature for the credit card charge. Luckily we've never had a chargeback so it's not an issue.
I'm closing this thread now as it's gotten so far off of the original question.
.
Sorry I steered this topic off course a bit. It happens in just about every thread. It's not something I close threads for. It's not really an option open to anyone else. (I didn't want people scrolling wildly and looking for the "close thread" button that isn't there ;) )
 

GeorgiaGirl

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Back to the original question, probably the reason people act surprised is that when you check into a hotel they run your credit card, most of them just put the invoice under the door so you are free to leave whenever you are ready, no stopping by the front desk anymore. People are probably assuming even if you charged their card for a deposit that once they check in you automatically run the card for the balance, we don't know that you don't have access to our card number....
I personally prefer to pay when I check in so that when I'm finished with breakfast I can go back to my room, pack, freshen up, and leave without having to wait until you are finish serving someone else breakfast or giving someone directions, etc. I'm usually off to another destination and those extra 15-20 minutes waiting can feel like an eternity!
 

Copperhead

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Back to the original question, probably the reason people act surprised is that when you check into a hotel they run your credit card, most of them just put the invoice under the door so you are free to leave whenever you are ready, no stopping by the front desk anymore. People are probably assuming even if you charged their card for a deposit that once they check in you automatically run the card for the balance, we don't know that you don't have access to our card number....
I personally prefer to pay when I check in so that when I'm finished with breakfast I can go back to my room, pack, freshen up, and leave without having to wait until you are finish serving someone else breakfast or giving someone directions, etc. I'm usually off to another destination and those extra 15-20 minutes waiting can feel like an eternity!.
GeorgiaGirl said:
Back to the original question, probably the reason people act surprised is that when you check into a hotel they run your credit card, most of them just put the invoice under the door so you are free to leave whenever you are ready, no stopping by the front desk anymore. People are probably assuming even if you charged their card for a deposit that once they check in you automatically run the card for the balance, we don't know that you don't have access to our card number....
I personally prefer to pay when I check in so that when I'm finished with breakfast I can go back to my room, pack, freshen up, and leave without having to wait until you are finish serving someone else breakfast or giving someone directions, etc. I'm usually off to another destination and those extra 15-20 minutes waiting can feel like an eternity!
I agree with GA and thought of this same thing upon reading your post. We are in the age of express check out... and the guests are ready to move on, ready to get to their next destination or home, they did not leave TIME on their schedule to PAY - they thought it was handled.
I am not in favor of a sign...they are ignored more than they are read. I agree with others here that even if you do not want to have them pay at check-in (what I do) I would at least have them sign something and tell them that payment is due at check out. This provides them knowledge of this task that must take place and their need to place this into their time schedule.
 
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