Here's a new — and outlandish — item for Catharine Hamm's On the Spot column about "surprise" hotel fees ["Will Warning Work?" Feb. 10]. I have been assisting by email a friend in China who is booking hotels and airfares for herself and several clients for a multi-city trip here. Her panicked emails are arriving with increasing frequency as she tries to book an upscale but practical trip for her clients.
The latest email wailed about a hotel's notice of $35 a day for a "refrigerator fee." What nonsense is this? I could only advise that they should alert management at check-in that the guests will not need a refrigerator, so they should not be charged for it.
In addition, she's worried about a fitness center fee, a rollaway bed fee, etc. I can only advise that if they don't use the services, they won't be charged for them — and hope that these hotels are not targeting a "naive" foreign audience for special fees, knowing the guests won't have time to pursue unjust and unnecessary fees at checkout.
I am embarrassed for our country by this type of gouging, both of our foreign tourists and local travelers.
Given the greedy fees that airlines have tacked on at every opportunity, it does not surprise me that hotels are trying to do the same. I think the Federal Trade Commission needs to beef up its oversight. What's happened to fair and transparent treatment of customers? Does anyone care about repeat business and customer loyalty anymore? How will these "drip pricing" practices lead to long-term business?
Mary E. Barton Mayes
I had to cancel a trip in business class on British Airways from San Diego to Hamburg, Germany.
For its electronic trouble to refund, BA charged $40. I was informed that my seat reservation fee of $98 was nonrefundable.
Because some other passenger is surely going to sit in seat 3A on BA flight 0272 on April 1, I feel betrayed and hope you will publish a warning about yet another airline scheme to fleece its passengers.
BA has been my favorite airline, and I am furious how little customer loyalty means to them.
I hope you publish this warning, so others will be spared this robbery.
Regarding "Super Nola," by Millie Ball [Feb. 3]: I have been to New Orleans several times, and Mother's (401 Poydras St., http://www.mothersrestaurant.net) offers great home cooking. It usually has a line out the door that moves quickly. The bread pudding is memorable, but all the dishes are very good.
Regarding On the Spot of Feb. 3 ["Catching Up on Jet Lag," by Catharine Hamm]: The trick to avoid jet lag is to arrive before sunset and to be outside for an hour or so while the sun is setting. This resets my biological clock to local time.
I have found No Jet-Lag tablets very helpful, cutting my jet lag down to one day at most. It is a homeopathic preparation from New Zealand and distributed here by Global Source. You take one tablet at takeoff and landing and at intervals throughout the flight. I also try to prepare myself for the new time zone by setting my watch to the new time at takeoff and trying to completely forget the current time.
It is interesting to see how government officials coped with jet lag since being clearheaded when signing treaties, etc., is important. I learned that President Eisenhower would arrive early to an important meeting so he would have a few days to get adjusted. Henry Kissinger would gradually adjust his schedule to the new time zone before he left. But President Johnson had the most effective method of all. Wherever he went in the world, he would seldom change his watch. He expected people to meet with him on Washington time. But I am afraid most of us cannot use that method.