Dear Heloise: When it comes to booking a hotel room, most people don't know that they might get a better rate if they negotiate the price. While it's best to get a better rate BEFORE you go, you also can get a lower rate sometimes when you arrive. If your trip is during the busy season, the hotel generally won't back down, but before you go, arm yourself with a printout of the hotel's rates and that of its competition. Here are some other pointers:
• Stay calm. Don't get angry or raise your voice when asking, "Is this your best rate?" After getting the hotel's rate, say, "I can't spend any more than (xxx) per night."
• If you've done your research on the competition, mention their rates.
• Ask to speak to the management if they aren't making an offer for a lower rate.
• Use discounts offered by various organizations. If you're over 60, there are a number of senior discounts you might like to try.
-- A Reader, via email
And the following is another letter about hotel rates.
Dear Heloise: My husband and I were checking out of our hotel when my husband noticed several fees on our bill. We were charged for a hotel safe we never used and a minibar that we also didn't use. We still don't understand the "Facility Fee." He asked about the fees, and the clerk said, "I'm sorry, you'll just have to pay them." We refused. We spoke to the manager, showed him the printout of hotel's room charge and said we were not paying for extra charges.
When we got back home from our trip, we wrote to the hotel chain's headquarters to complain. Please tell your readers to beware of extra charges when checking out! -- Terri and Jason L., Boulder, Colo.
Oiling a sewing machine
Dear Heloise: I oil my sewing machine, but I end up getting oil on my fabric. What should I do? -- Pat W., Norfolk, Neb.
Pat, stitch through a blotter (or paper towels or extra fabric) to catch excess oil.
Cedar aroma disappeared
Dear Heloise: My cedar chest has lost its cedar scent. Can I get it back? -- Donna S., Grand Forks, N.D.
Donna, use fine sandpaper to lightly sand the cedar wood. This brings out the oils, but make certain you vacuum out the dust.
Dear Heloise: I live in a small apartment. Where can I store sweaters in the summer? -- Anna Y., Union Gap, Wash.
Anna, store them in an under-the-bed box.
Dear Heloise: How often should water be changed for cut flowers in a vase? -- Vera F., Ferrell, N.J.
Vera, change the water at least every other day to keep them fresher longer.
Send a great hint to:
P.O. Box 795000
San Antonio, TX 78279-5000