If you're a locally owned business, and you're using the fact that you're local to appeal to potential customers, doesn't that mean that you have a heightened responsibility to treat those customers ethically?
Let me tell you a story.
I'm taking a weekend trip to Phoenix for a work-related function later this month. When in Phoenix, I usually stay at the Hilton Garden Inn on Central Avenue—it's inexpensive, with great service, a fantastic pool and gym access.
On my last trip to Phoenix, I stumbled upon another hotel in the same general area. It looked fun and had a great vibe—and best of all, it was locally owned. As this hotel's website says, it's "known by locals as being run by friends and family who truly care about your experience, not just at the hotel, but in Phoenix."
That pitch appealed to me—and I was delighted to find that on the dates I'll be in Phoenix, the hotel is roughly the same price per night as the Hilton Garden Inn.
I went to the hotel's website, filled out the reservation form, and got to the fine print—and that's where I saw the disclosure that the hotel charges a $20-per-day "resort" fee.
That little bit of deception caused me to close my browser window, and instead head to the Hilton Garden Inn website to book a room.
I wrote that locally owned Phoenix hotel a letter. (I never received a response.)
"Things like 'resort fees' are deceptive—there's no reason for them, other than to hide the true cost of a stay. I expect better from a local, independent business," I wrote. "We'll stick to the Hilton Garden Inn, even if it's a chain ... because the HGI has the ethics to NOT try to raise the price in the small print."