Hotels are notorious for overcharging customers for everyday items, but one U.K. businessman is reeling after being charged about $127 for three bottles of sparkling water.
Edward Heaton, a U.K.-based property advisor, scheduled a meeting with his client at the Crystal Bar of the Wellesley Hotel in London. According to the Independent, the businessman ordered three 500ml bottles of San Pellegrino, a sparkling water that usually retails for around $2 a bottle.
Though Heaton expected to pay a little more for the hotel’s premium service, he was floored when the bill arrived. The water came to £16.50 (about $28). What Heaton didn't realize is that the 5-star hotel imposes a service charge of £25 ($43) per person for customers using its bar after 4 p.m. This was on top of a £50.17 ($85) "minimum spend" fee --bringing the total to £75.
“For £75, we probably could have had a nice glass of wine each or maybe even a bottle of champagne,” Heaton told the Independent. “But three bottles of water? I wasn’t angry. I was just totally bemused."
Heaton has vowed never to go to the Wellesley Hotel after the incident.
“I spend a lot of time in central London and I have a lot of meetings in the top hotels. I am pretty well versed in how these places work but I have never had this before. I will never set foot in that hotel again.”
The businessman admits that he paid the bill without incident to avoid making a scene in front of his client but later complained to the hotel claiming no one explained the minimum charge, nor were there any menus set out that would have clarified item prices. He even posted a picture to twitter with a warning to potential Wellesley bar goers.
— Edward Heaton (@EdwardHeaton) July 23, 2014
The hotel responded via Twitter later that afternoon with this response.
@EdwardHeaton Thanks for letting us know.We will make sure our policy at the Crystal Bar is dazzlingly clear to all in future. All the best.
— The Wellesley (@wellesleylondon) July 23, 2014
The hotel continues to stand by their policy and claims that guests are made aware of the minimum bar spend upon arrival, which according to the management, is “comparable to similar venues across London.”
“I have no issue if they have a minimum charge, but they need to make it clear. It is the lack of transparency that I have a problem with,” Heaton stated to the Independent.