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Well, I think the title says it all: in hotels which offer minibar/other extra services for a fee, is it possible to have a room, where there is no risk of accidentally using/eating something for which you have to pay for? (Or even worse: risk that the hotel mistakenly thinks you've used such services and charges you for them?) I.e. ask them to remove all the extras in advance?

On one hand, I wouldn't be too surprised if the answer were "of course not, since this is a standard service, and it would be complicated to make such exceptions (besides that, it brings extra revenue for the hotel, so they don't even have the incentive to do that)".

On the other hand, there are probably many people like me, who don't want to consume anything, and would therefore prefer to avoid accidentally being charged. So I think this is a reasonable request.

Also, I did some googling, and didn't find anything about this. What I found, however, is that it is supposedly quite easy to trick the system:

You never have to pay for using the minibar. Minibar charges are, without question, the most disputed charges on any bill. Why? Because it's done by people. The traditional minibar, before they invented the sensored variety, is checked (maybe) once a day by a slow-moving gentleman or lady pushing a cartful of snacks. Keystroke errors, delays in restocking, double stocking, and hundreds of other missteps make minibar charges the most voided item. Even before guests can manage to get through half of the "I never had these items" sentence, I have already removed the charges.

So if this is true, I'd expect it even generates a loss. Which would be a further incentive just to offer rooms without minibar/extra services (btw., I read in the same source, that there is a similar trick for extra services too). (But as I said, my intention is not to scam the hotel and get free stuff, it is only to avoid any dispute/misunderstanding -- and of course the added benefit would be having an empty fridge, which I can fill up with the cheap stuff I buy at the local supermarket :D)

Backstory: On a recent trip, at checkout I was charged some items from the minibar which I did not consume. I found the above sentence (Even before guests can manage to get through half of the "I never had these items" sentence, I have already removed the charges.) to be 100% correct. However, next time I'm travelling, I would prefer just not having this extra stuff to begin with.

Also, I don't want to make this question specific to any country, I'm interested to the answers event if they vary by location.

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    Have you tried to find hotels which do not have minibars? – Willeke Apr 14 at 17:21
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    Sometimes the choice is not up to me (e.g. business travel booked by company), or even if it is up to me, I don't necessarily want to exclude otherwise good hotels, just because they have minibar. – Attilio Apr 14 at 17:27
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    This reminds me in the scene in Flight when the union gives the pilot a hotel room with the mini-bar cleaned out. The airline rents the adjacent room, and unlocks the connecting door. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Apr 14 at 20:12
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    Anecdotally, I’ve been in the situation where the hotel thought I’d used from the minibar when I hadn’t. It was apparently an automated minibar with sensors in it, so if you moved anything, you’d get charged – and since I’d bought juice and similar things that I wanted to fit inside the fridge, I’d moved pretty much everything in there around to make space. Result: a hefty fee on checkout for the minibar. I contested the charge, saying that I’d only moved things around and hadn’t actually used anything, and the fee was waived after cleaning staff confirmed the fridge was still full. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 15 at 10:20
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    "So if this is true, I'd expect it even generates a loss." At the minibar prices I've seen - $6 for a $0.20 bottle of water, for example - I suspect they can sustain a 90%+ fraud rate and still make some money. – ceejayoz Apr 15 at 14:06
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Some hotels don't have minibars, and you could seek those would when traveling when possible.

Some hotels are willing to remove/empty/lock the minibar upon request. Some guests may be on school trips or be recovering alcoholics not wanting to sleep next to a bar. I'd call the hotel front desk (not the central reservations office for a chain, but the actual hotel directly) and ask if this is possible before booking. Some resorts may charge a fee for this—they'll call it a refrigerator fee so you can use the space for your own use. Some will do so for free, but you may not have a fridge to use after.

At some hotels it may be possible to ask them to block all extra charges to your room above the room rate (room service, bar/restaurant, calls, PPV movies, laundry, shop, etc...), but you'd have to check with the hotel to see whether their system can accommodate this.

I've had occasional minibar charges for something I didn't use, and it's never taken more than 30 seconds to have them removed.

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    I think asking them to lock the minibar, or otherwise remove its contents, is a good suggestion here. You shouldn't need to give an explanation, and nor should they ask for one; you could, for example, be a recovering alcoholic and having ready access to something in your room is a bad idea. – Dan Apr 15 at 13:40
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I always used the mini bar refrigerator in order to keep my own beers and perishable items. Even in hotels where removing a can or bottle from its notch is automatically billed.

I always asked at the reception, always got a positive answer while making sure they arrange that with the service staff at the floor.

Eventually they tell you not to remove their perishable items, as in some cases you might find packed sandwiches or other snacks.

The first time that I got billed automatically, it tooks seconds to clarify the situation, as in the other answer.

You can pre announce that you won't use the services, but somehow they will have to check it out, so the various mistakes mentioned by others might be less probable but still possible.

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