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Courtyard Marriott $20 plug fee

Courtyard Marriott $20 plug fee

I recently completed a 3,000km (1,800 mile) business road trip from Toronto, through Chicago to northern Wisconsin in consistently -25C (-10F) temps. I plan to do a full write up of the adventure but for now…

I stayed at the Courtyard Marriott in Wausau Wisconsin with a final appointment 100km further north the following day. Having read the reviews on Plugshare, I was prepared for a $15 fee to use their Tesla charger. They upped that to $20 because I asked to plug in on my way back later the same day.

On one hand, it’s not unreasonable to charge for any service. On the other, most establishments are happy to let you plug free whether you stay or not. I liken this to the early days of Wifi when hotels billed internet while the coffee shop offered it free. I was mostly annoyed they didn't mention the cost upon reservation or check-in. They prefer to keep it a check-out surprise.

Anyways, I tweeted Courtyard Marriott asking if this was policy from head office. They quickly replied: “Thanks for contacting us. The fee for various services can differ from one location to another depending on their own policies. All charges hotels have in place are first approved by Marriott Intl.”

I left a negative review on Expedia for this and other reasons. The manager replied with the following:
“Dear Guest. When Tesla reached out to us for help connecting the charging dots for drivers hoping to venture further north in Wisconsin, we were happy to support the company's vision and make the investment into the charger station. There is a cost associated with installing the charger and the energy required to recharge your EV. With Telsa’s support, we treat this as a very special amenity that the guest using it should support in the cost and the guests not using it do not support the cost. We are glad we could make it possible with this charging station to extend your trip to another 100km north. General Manager”

I assumed Tesla subsidized installations and this timely article would confirm that. (EDIT: Specific quote. "Tesla has largely picked up the tab for the cost of both the charging hardware and the installation" at hotels.)
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-03/tesla-roadtrippers-jui...

I was going to reply to the Marriott manager but was curious to see if Tesla should be aware too. It seems odd that Tesla insists Superchargers remain free but would allow billing on their proprietary ‘slow’ chargers… especially if the equipment and installation were subsidized.

Comments?

Earl and Nagin ... | 07/03/2015

$20 per use is actually quite minimal considering it could cost several thousand dollars to do the wiring and pull permits (varies greatly from place to place). Then, of course, there's the question to ask yourself: would you rather pay $20 or not have a place to charge?
Personally, I'm disappointed that you slammed them on Expedia for not offering free charging. This will have a lot of negative impacts that, IMHO, far outweigh a little $20 pocket change.
There are 2 very negative outcomes that can come from your actions.
1) It will discourage hotel owners putting in charging stations since I doubt that you went and slammed every other hotel in the area for not having charging stations but you did slam the one that did. From hotel management's perspective the word will get out that you're better off not bothering with EV charging because of who drives Teslas (see next impact)
2) You will give the bad impression that Tesla drivers are self entitled whiners who want to buy expensive fancy cars that most people can't even afford yet they thing everyone else should be buying their electricity for them.

apsley | 07/03/2015

If hotels are charging a fee for the use of Superchargers located on their property, then TM shouldn't be claiming that Superchargers are "free", because they aren't.

Mel. | 07/03/2015

They do not have a Supercharger at the Courtyard Marriott. As an owner you should know what a Supercharger is, and how they charge and what they look like. If Tesla has an incorrect charging map, please let them know.

gfb107 | 07/03/2015

I'm pretty sure this wasn't a supercharger, but actually an HPWC.

bigd | 07/03/2015

Earl and Nagin - Well said!!!

Beartooth | 07/03/2015

Is there also an extra charge for the swimming pool, the parking, perhaps the elevator as well! You pay for these whether you use them or not. I can see charging for the electricity, but I really think the cost of install of the charging equipment should just be part of the cost of attracting potential customers. Installing charging equipment will, I am sure, attract customers with EV's. Much like Wi-Fi can mean the difference between staying at one property or another. Time to get with the times Marriot!!

negarholger | 07/03/2015

Earl and Nagin +1

Watt fun | 07/03/2015

I think the Marriott Courtyard was in thrall to beancounter-ism, "penny wise, pound foolish".

Its a fully deductible business expense, and a great advertizing ploy in the same way that wifi and pools are a plus for some people, --whether they USE those facilities every time or not--. It denotes a certain level of sophistication in their overall branding strategy. The best surprise is no surprise as Holiday Inn pointed out.

It is especially churlish since the chargers ARE subsidized by Tesla and the electrical cost is truly minimal. A $5 fee would be more ample, or just 'eat it in the price charged' as many other services and facilities are. Actually, if it was valet service it would be a reasonable fee, otherwise, no.

I am used to travelling long distances by car with dogs (agility competitions) and have found that a chain has gotten all sorts of repeat business from me: the newer Motel 6 with cheap but cheerful rooms designed from scratch with pets in mind, with free outdoor plugins for cold winter nights (ICE block heaters) and a refreshing lack of marble attriums. I'd rather stay there and never have a problem with my dogs, than go elsewhere for more 'me' comfort.

I consider the protocols and charges/no charges for 'plug-in' cars to be equally compelling as say, children or pets. Once you satisfy a single person once, that one person can be a happy repeat customer. Irritate one person just once for no understandable or sensible reason, and hundreds of people might bad mouth you.

Tstolz | 07/03/2015

Chris - The Marriott has it right and they should be commended not rebuked. We need hotels to provide this service and we need to support and encourage them to do so. I think their price point is also fine for now ... competition will ultimately decide what the 'correct' price will be ... but for now lets thank them!

Dwdnjck@ca | 07/03/2015

Tstolz-ditto

Earl and Nagin ... | 07/03/2015

If anyone wishes to send any encouragement to the Wausau Marriott for providing Tesla charging, the general manager's email address is: daniel.j.burg@marriott.com
Of course those who feel they are not getting the free charging they believe they are entitled to can email as well.
As one who as driven across WI in the winter (but not in a Tesla yet), I would think that finding a nice hotel where you can just plug in at night would be like heaven. It sure beats walking a mile in sub zero temperatures from an RV park to some sleazy fleabag motel where you can sleep. Your car will be nice and toasty with a warm battery when you walk out to it in the morning. For $20, I'll take it any day.

grant10k | 07/03/2015

Guys, he said "I left a negative review on Expedia for this and other reasons."

We don't know what else the hotel did to him, but it we take him at his word, he didn't bash them just for charging to plug in.

And, "...it’s not unreasonable to charge for any service... I was mostly annoyed they didn't mention the cost upon reservation or check-in."

He's not complaining that he was charged $20, he's complaining that the $20 was a hidden fee. The name of the post is a little misleading in that mentioning the actual cost implies that the cost was the problem, instead of how they charged it.

negarholger | 07/03/2015

Oh my good what a useless fuss about $20 driving a $100k car...

And what kind of damage done.

chris | 08/03/2015

Hello All (particularly Earl & Nagin).

First, I'd like to say the question is not whether $20 was unreasonable. As per the linked article, "Tesla has largely picked up the tab for the cost of both the charging hardware and the installation" at hotels. In addition, Tesla insists Supercharging remain "free." So, the questions is whether a hotel fee is counter to Tesla's intent when they subsidized this location. Is this hotel double dipping by billing Tesla and their customers?

Next, the negative review also touched on the quality of the room. I do praise hotels that support EVs (I ran into a few who enthusiastically offered to run extension cords across parking lots). And thus, the contrast with Courtyard is even more apparent.

I traveled 3,000km and stopped at a half dozen hotels. Some with HPWC, some with J1772 and some with basic wall plugs. This was the most expensive and the only one with an additional fee.

Was I spoiled by the free ride? Perhaps... but, the proprietor should know an additional fee is an anomaly. (recall that Marriott is the hotel that jammed personal internet so they could charge extra. Fees may be in their DNA.)

Moreover, the 'standard' fee was not disclosed to me in advance nor, the modified cost for my request. Imagine requesting an extra pillow, the staff say "Yes sir. We'd be happy to help" and you find a $5 pillow fee later on. I feel hotels add features to make them more enticing. Some guests watch TV, some use the pool, and some use the EV charger. It evens out.

In addition, if their rationale is power consumption, they (like most people who commented) should make sure I was empty. $20 would fill the car three times over. That too seems opportunistic.

As a final annoyance, a later survey asked if I was impressed by their environmental policy. No other hotel touted environmental policy yet they were all more passionate about charging an electric car.

MountainVoyageur | 08/03/2015

I have seen the remark about superchargers are supposed to be free pop up several times in this thread. I would expect that the Courtyard Marriott has an HPWC, not a supercharger. I do not know of any policy that HPWC use is free -- as far as I know that is up to the entity providing the HPWC. I'm not prepared to comment on what is usual-and-customary for HPWC use; perhaps others in this thread know that.

I do not know enough to comment on most of the other issues raised. The main one to catch my attention is the surprise, though. It seems to me that, because of the inevitable adverse reaction, any hotel would want to avoid a guest being surprised by an item on the bill at checkout time. Of course it would not hurt the customer to inquire about the cost before plugging in, either.

Mike83 | 08/03/2015

Unfortunately the Marriott has been nickle and diming guests like the charging for internet and BLOCKING your paid internet on your cell data. I believe Romney is an officer of the company. I personally have stopped staying at any Marriott and instead do Four Seasons, Best Westerns, Westins, Hiltons and other private accommodation motels and hotels. They are free to run their business anyway they want but I will avoid them even if I have to pay more.

Maxxer | 08/03/2015

Hotels make their money this way, overcharging for something that doesn't cost the price. They did this with in-room WiFi, they will don the same with out-room electricity charging.

Actually I'm surprised that some hotels offered it freely.

vperl | 08/03/2015

I would never use Progressive insurance, not owned by Romney,because I dislike their views also. What a load, biggots in hotel selection.

I chose what ever based on their service, not on political musing.

I am evolved, not to judge people on their personal views.. Unlike some intolerant self important slugs.

ken | 08/03/2015

No one has every accused the Marriott family of not knowing how to make money. The best way to tackle this problem is through the Marriott Rewards Club. Letters to them can have an effect over some period of time. However, in fairness, they do have some costs associated with the installation and on-going usage of the chargers, but that should only result in a nominal charge and $20/night is not nominal. Write an e-mail to the Marriott Rewards Club. Appealing to them with the whole idea of "saving the environment" may have some impact.

grega | 08/03/2015

I prefer hotels to be upfront too. The worst I've seen was a sign saying "Please enjoy this water", which was later charged. And there was a network called "Free Wifi" which then asked which paid plan you wanted to use (at least it didn't charge later).

On the other hand, I understand some guests expect to be charged and don't want to be told every time. e.g.: "Hello reception? I need a razor" "Yes sir, we can help, that'll be $5"

So I think clear labelling and pricing is what I like.

TeoTeslaFan | 08/03/2015

From the original message it appears the fee is $15, not $20. They charged the OP $20 because he used the charger two times. The title is misleading.

Maxxer | 08/03/2015

Being upfront is just respectful of the customers.

wildcatzoo | 08/03/2015

I see your reaction Chris and understand your outrage. I also see Nagin and Earl's points.

At this stage of the building out process it is perhaps detrimental to focus on the surcharge. I imagine it is in place to stop free loading as much as to generate revenue.

It easily could have been $15 each time you plug in, or for you in this case $30.

A complaint made public about this issue is really not warranted at this time. In a few years when you have choices, sure.

Right now it is supply and demand, and they at least could be a supplier to you. A word of thanks for that is not out of line at any price. I would also bet that other consumers have been able to get free charging if they speak the right way to the right person. A $10 tip to the valet can often get around management.

Complaints about other issues can be handled any way you wish but on this issue to discuss it outside of this forum is likely a tad over the top and does more harm than good. I hope you will re-think your stance and consider changing your public review to omit this issue.

Many people have been charged full price ($60+) at RV parks where the infrastructure has been in place for decades and they could not charge as fast as an HPWC. May not seem nice but this is a world of business. Since you were on a business trip you can relate it to a customer wanting you to spend time effort and energy on something you provide for no return.

I do think the surcharge is cheesy and it is good to let Tesla owners know. As a guest you should have had this service fee waived. Right place to bring this is here though, not the GP. I hope you see why I feel that way.

mtaylor619 | 28/03/2015

Given that the actual cost at home to charge is less than $2, $20 is 1000% profit margin, which is excessive. Its more akin to the price of an antibiotic in a hospital where they have a monopolistic product and captive customer; better to pay the price than to die.
Marriott does not run the cheapest hotels on the planet. They should learn from this. Investing in a charging system that can accommodate all of the EV customers, not just Tesla, will go a long way to create loyalty. Marriott knows how important this is and they know that EV owners are not low end customers.
But loyalty is dependent on value. At $20 there is this sense of being ripped off. Granted, charging $10 to get some upfront costs back could be justified, but after that, $5 would give them at least a 100% incremental markup, even on a full charge. Or, they could charge $2/hr with a $16 cap/night. That provides an incentive to give up the parking spot to another EV. You'd have to be down to zero miles to need more than 8 hours with Model S/85. In a business where 5% after tax profits makes for a good year, this is good incremental profit. At the very least, there should be a discount for patrons vs someone passing through and needing a few KWs to top off.

Brian H | 28/03/2015

Write it off as promotion and give it away. The savings in not charging and billing etc. alone would pay for it.

EQC | 28/03/2015

If the national average electric rate is 12 cents per kWh, and a full charge on a Tesla could be up to 75 kWh, then it is quite plausible that plugging in could cost the hotel $9.

Some areas have cheaper power, others more expensive. There was a cost to install the charger, and for now, there really aren't a whole lot of Teslas on the road to help recoup that investment.

$20 sounds reasonable to me, for a service you only use occasionally, especially if you aren't a customer at the establishment.

Trying to meter the actual kWh pumped into the EV and charge accordingly would mean the hotel would need more equipment and more employee time...

One day, there will be free superchargers everywhere and there will be an enormous number of destination chargers. As EV charging becomes more established, more "known," and more competitive, most destination chargers will probably be free. For now, in these early days, just be glad these hotels aren't attracting "high end customers" by offering free gas to anybody diving a luxury car....that total customer pool is notably larger than the group driving Teslas.

Bubba2000 | 28/03/2015

I own a P85, and I think that $20 is a reasonable fee to charge to use the HPWC at the hotel. I doubt that the hotel makes any meaningful profit even with Tesla support and should be penalized for providing the electricity,

I think that Tesla should continue supporting HPWC/100A installation at destinations like hotels, restaurants, parking lots, airports,etc with fee per use. In the big cities like New Orleans even per use Superchargers would make sense.

Tesla needs to charge for the SC use to justify increasing the network.

Brian H | 29/03/2015

Bubba;
False. Revenue from ongoing (and fast-growing) sales is allocated to that, and is more than sufficient.

rwatson485 | 29/03/2015

While Marriott has the right to charge a fee for the service, Chris is right to slam them in public for doing so. Perhaps other businesses will see this as the opportunity to gain an edge by offering free access or a minimal charging fee. Marriott has a practice of gouging customers; ask any reporter who was on the last campaign trail.

Tstolz | 29/03/2015

Guys ... give your heads a shake. Did you ever expect a $10 gas coupon from a hotel as an 'incentive' to get you to stay there when you had an ICE?

I'm working hard up here in Alberta to convince more hotels to install EV plugs and charging stations. I'm recommending they charge for this service to cover their electricity costs, installation costs, maintenance costs, and admin costs. I'm suggesting $15.00 for a 35 amp X 220 volt service for overnight charging and $5.00/hr for access to 80 amps. Please put yourself into the shoes of the business owner - margins are tight! If competition forces the price-point of this service down .. awesome! But until it does .. thank these guys for what they have done. We need them!

Tstolz | 29/03/2015

BTW - another reason to charge clients for EV charging spots is to clear out ICEing and EV drivers sitting in spots for longer than needed. I also want to be able to 'book' an overnight stall when at a hotel. I need guaranteed charging! I'm happy to pay for that!

SamO | 29/03/2015

@Tstolz,

1. Free charging is better than pay per charge

2. Tesla owners are spoiled. Supercharging is free and many/most HPWCs are free.

3. Marriott has been caught overcharging/blocking too many times.

4. Tesla paid for the HPWC and is footing the bill for the installation per the 6.2 announcement.

5. If the cost is reasonable and transparent, then owners will be (generally) happy to pay.

Jcollins | 29/03/2015

As a long time Marriott customer (over 700,000 platinum reward points) and a new owner of a Tesla S85D, I look forward to all my stays being at Marriott when I travel. As I get used to travelling in my Tesla, I find knowing I can get a charge at a Marriott very comforting. It's almost like a replacement for the many gas stations I am now passing by- at which a fill up usually cost me in excess of $60. I have found Marriott to be very responsive to its customers. If they asked my opinion on this, I'd say, charge me $20 for a charge. It's fair to them and comforting to me. Btw, every time I have stopped at a supercharger, it has cost me over $20- for lunch.

Brian H | 29/03/2015

If another chain nearby offers free charging for guests, the market will begin to operate ...

ernie | 29/03/2015

My wife and I currently rent out [when we are not using them as a getaway] several condominiums in the Puget Sound island chain and are putting in several charging stations in front of our units. We have not decided for sure but are going to do at least two 14-50 outlets, possibly three. I am encouraging the resort which rents our rooms to establish at least three charging points for all to use who are patrons of the restaurant or guests of the resort. Tesla does supply some materials free and helps technically. The kWh price here is $0.11 for homeowners.

For guests in our three condos we will not be charging for use as we feel it would be an aggravation and should come as an amenity just like the packets of coffee we supply. Although there is a mainland Supercharging station about 45 miles from our place, add back a 45 mile return and 100 miles touring the island and some might sweat returning to the mainland charging station. The ferry ride will consume no energy unless you want to heat, cool or listen to music. The state is considering free ferry for electric but doubt it will happen … or should.

I would think any hotel which charges guests is missing a huge selling point. The resort here is really into alternative energy as there is a nearby lake from which they generate lots of hydro power…with zero fish impact as the stream falls 20’ into the Puget Sound.

Looking forward to a fall delivery of an MX……

SamO | 30/03/2015

+1 Ernie.

Very very good marketing on your part. Post a link to the units.

carlgo2 | 30/03/2015

This is what happens when you depend on random 3rd party hosts for recharges.

ernie | 30/03/2015

SamO...when I get them installed this summer I will post...maybe sooner if I can get sub meters installed first. We will do it in a way that will allow Tesla to put a charge point on their map.

Tstolz | 31/03/2015

I betting the 'free' mindset will diminish as EVs become the norm and people do the math. Nothing is free, including Supercharging! If I were to run a hotel where 100 of my 200 room patrons want EV charging ... the electrical demand and cost would be in Supercharger territory ... which we of course pay for.

bigd | 05/04/2015

Kenz believes "Every light pole should be solar powered and also provide an outlet for EV - Electric Vehicle charging. If parking lots (Walmart, Target, Kohl's ) had solar powered light poles with charging outlets then charging could be FREE."

I do believe someone pays for the "light pole, solar powered equipment, and an outlet". Explain why Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl's, should pay for your charging. Just out of curiosity, why do so many people buy a $100000 car, and then want free this or free that? I am not critizing, just asking for help understand buying this car and then complaining about paying to charge it. I am not talking about SC as that is part of the purchase price (which can be done for $500-1000 in the 3 series ;-). I do believe that $20 is still less than filling up an ICE.

Sage, I got your back.

vperl | 06/04/2015

The market will show the way.

Grinnin'.VA | 06/04/2015

@ bigd | April 5, 2015

I do believe someone pays for the "light pole, solar powered equipment, and an outlet". Explain why Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl's, should pay for your charging.

Baffles me too. IMO, people who can afford to buy an MS shouldn't be looking for handouts financed by the general public.

I am not talking about SC as that is part of the purchase price (which can be done for $500-1000 in the 3 series ;-).

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I've found no credible reason to expect the cost of unlimited lifetime SC service for M3s to be less than about $2000. I think it's good news that JBS said in a recent panel discussion that he expects Tesla to institute some sort of payment system for SC usage, probably for M3s. At least that's my interpretation of the meaning of his comment on this.

bevguy | 06/04/2015

Living in a Supercharger desert I would be happy to pay $15 for overnight destination charging, since the other alternative is to sit hours at a RV park (if I can find one) using their RV 50 plug. Motels operate on the idea that the more expensive the room the more extras they can charge for. So cheaper motels have free WiFi but in more expensive ones you pay extra. Even though WiFi costs the motel very little.

$15 is not unreasonable if there are no nearby hotels offering charging,

Eventually destination charging will be ubiquitous . But just like internet connections hotels will offer it only when nearby competitors do. Because responding to customers wishes is not a priority at hotels.

vperl | 06/04/2015

Exactly, Destination Chargers are great, eat a long lunch, rest up you added 150 miles, arrive at your final daily destination rested.

Brian H | 06/04/2015

The original intent of Destination Chargers is to serve final destinations, not waypoints, though they can serve in a pinch.

Grinnin'.VA | 07/04/2015

@ Brian H | April 6, 2015

The original intent of Destination Chargers is to serve final destinations, not waypoints, ...

Yes, and the Tesla in offers the same HPWC deals to waypoints to serve the needs of MS drivers on multiple-day road trips. Note that the technology and the deals are identical. It seems to me that the purpose was identical as well.

So what's your point?

vperl | 07/04/2015

Got to love the HPWC. WITH the lack of superchargers off the back roads.

Love to have them on several routes, and pay the freight if necessary.

From Seatle through Mt.Shasta SC to Reno though Susanville, CA the range is short. Need a HPWC for sure.

From, The Dalles,OR to Boise Idaho East into Grand Junction, Colorado HPWC would make the trip possible.

Could name many all around the west coast.

Can bet others have hopes for Placing HPWC.

Bubba2000 | 07/04/2015

Until the destination issue gets sorted out, I am carrying a 30+ foot cable good for 240A/40A plus adapters in my frunk. In a pinch, I can pay to charge at all kinds of locations like RV sites,auto repair shops, welding/machine shops, even restaurants, motels, etc. Most of these places have hi amp 240V circuits. Best is to plan trips to avoid these situations.

I suspect most small motels - especially run by owners in the sticks - are flexible about letting me charge overnight, particularly for a fee. It is the big hotels that got all kinds of rules.

I think folks who paid around $100,000 need to stop nitpicking some motel about $20 electricity charge.

Al1 | 07/04/2015

I guess I understand Chris's point of view, however I also agree we do need to encourage hotels that have installed charging infrastructure.

15 dollars for first charge and 5 dollars for each charge above that doesn't seem to be awful lot.

Sure the hotel makes most of the money from the fact the guest stayed there rather than in a hotel across the street and ideally there should be no charge at all.

However if there is no hotel across the street, than the whole service which was provided should not be measured against cost of electricity, but rather against cost of an ICE car rental or cost of towing your car. Because this is really what your last miles would have cost you had there be no charging spot when you really need it.

Will this review have negative impact on the hotel? I am not so sure. Non Tesla owners may actually be glad to find out they don't have to pay for charging other people's Teslas.

And Tesla owners will be glad to find out the hotel has a charging spot and it is working too. And on top of that they know the price, so there will be no surprise in the end.

Brian H | 07/04/2015

vperl;
Some have donated HPWCs along their favorite routes. Go for it.

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