This week, the District of Columbia sued Marriott International for charging hotel customers resort fees, which D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine called “bait-and-switch advertising and deceptive pricing practices [that] are illegal.”
Travelers United, a consumer advocacy group, noted in June how booking sites are beginning to resist fees that distort the true cost of guest rooms. Responding to the D.C. lawsuit, Charles Leocha, president of Travelers United, said, “This is a really big deal. This is the first time that we’ve had legal action taken against the hotels for the resort fees.”
In 2012, the Federal Trade Commission sent letters to 22 hotel chains concerning the practice and disclosure of charging resort, destination, and amenity fees but this year an investigation by the attorneys general of all 50 states found that fees, which can range from $9 to $95 a day, are still surprising consumers.
The current lawsuit is not aimed at preventing such fees, but at requiring disclosure up front to provide accurate rates for comparison-shopping travelers.