Lawsuits Against Hotel Chains Target Hated Resort Fees

Have you ever been lured by a hotel’s advertised price online and booked it, only to be surprised by a hefty “resort fee” at check-in or worse, at check-out? What about a “resort fee” for a pool that was closed in the winter or for spotty wi-fi? Often consumers are “exhausted” at the end of the online searching and booking process and more readily give in to the resort fees that were never disclosed in the initially advertised hotel price.

Many hotels also charge these fees separately from room rates in order to reduce the amount they must pay in commissions to travel booking websites, since sites like Expedia typically earn a cut of the room rate for any hotel stays booked through them.

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Just this month MGM Resorts International announced that the resort fees will increase from $39 to $45 at its Aria Resort & Casino, Bellagio Hotel and Casino, and Vdara Hotel and Spa. These are already the resort fees at Wynn Las Vegas, The Venetian and The Palazzo. Resort fees totaled almost $3 billion in 2018, said Consumer Reports.

In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission released a report on resort fees — arguing that “separating mandatory resort fees from posted room rates without first disclosing the total price is likely to harm consumers.”

Many consumers are steaming over these fees. Some state Attorney Generals have taken notice. The District of Columbia has sued Marriott International, alleging that the hotel company violated consumer protection laws for at least a decade by charging resort fees that it doesn’t disclose upfront to its customers, particularly on online travel-booking sites. Marriott “reaped hundreds of millions of dollars over the past decade from this deceptive drip pricing.” The District of Columbia’s investigation discovered at least 189 Marriott properties worldwide charged the resort fees, which range from $9 to as much as $95 per room per day.

The Attorney General of Nebraska has also filed a lawsuit against Marriott and Hilton over their resort fee practices. The Nebraska suit alleges that the hotels have violated that state’s Consumer Protection Act and the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The suit seeks injunctive relief to stop the hotels from continuing to advertise false prices, restitution, and penalties for future violations.

What do you think? Should resort fees be disclosed upfront in the overall nightly price of the hotel? Should there only be “one” price?

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