D.C. stands up for consumers in deceptive hotel pricing scheme

 

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The Washington, D.C., Attorney General’s office announced a lawsuit against Marriott International Inc. for charging consumers “deceptive resort fees.” These fees, often called “resort fees,” “amenity fees” or “destination fees,” are not disclosed in advance to customers but show up under the taxes and fees section of their invoices. Many consumers assume these are government-mandated taxes, not additional income for Marriott. This practice of hiding profitable fees is called “drip pricing,” and it prevents consumers from accurately comparing hotel room prices and often misleads them into thinking a Marriott hotel room is cheaper than it actually is.

“We applaud Attorney General Racine for taking the lead in standing up for consumers when it comes to deceptive pricing,” said Consumer Action’s national priorities director, Linda Sherry. “Consumers who are being responsible by researching and comparing hotel room rates are misled into thinking they are booking one price, and then fees of up to $95 per room are added after the stay!”

“The true price of the room should be advertised before the final booking stage so that consumers can make financially sound travel plans that fit within their families’ budgets,” added Sherry.

In 2012, the Federal Trade Commission reviewed undisclosed resort fees and warned a dozen hotel chains, including Marriott, that misrepresenting fees in advertising might violate consumer protection laws.

In addition to seeking monetary relief for affected Washington consumers and imposing monetary civil penalties for breaking the law, the lawsuit demands that Marriott be “fully transparent about their prices so consumers can make informed decisions when booking hotel rooms.”

Marriott International Inc. oversees more than 5,700 hotels in over 110 countries, including at least 30 hotels in the District of Columbia.

 

 

 

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