AG Encourages Consumers To Continue To Beware Of Hidden Booking Fees This Holiday Travel Season
HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that his office has reached a settlement with Marriott International, Inc. (“Marriott”) regarding the disclosure of “resort fees.”
Over the years, travelers have been reportedly misled by the published rates offered by hotels for a night’s stay only later to be hit with “resort fees” through the hotel industry’s practice of “drip pricing,” where the rate advertised does not include additional mandatory fees. With this settlement, Marriott has committed to putting a policy in place to be upfront and transparent in the disclosure of mandatory fees, including resort fees, as part of the total price of a hotel stay– allowing consumers to be able to compare total price costs for hotels and find the one that is the best fit for them.
“Hotels shouldn’t be able to slap hidden fees on top of your bill at the last minute, and thanks to this settlement we’re putting the hotel industry on notice to put an end to this deceptive practice,” said AG Josh Shapiro. “With costs going up and more seniors and families traveling for the holidays, consumers should beware of these surprise fees when booking. Marriott has stepped up to commit itself to fix this practice and we expect more hotel chains to follow suit.”
The Office of Attorney General’s investigation focused on the practice commonly referred to as “drip pricing.” With the drip pricing method, fees are gradually disclosed to consumers as they go through the booking process. Customers often don’t learn the total price of their booking, room rate plus resort fee, until the last page in the online booking process, or something until they check in at the hotel. AG Shapiro argues that such a pricing model is deceptive and a violation of Pennsylvania’s Consumer Protection Law.
Through today’s settlement, Marriott has committed to prominently disclose the total price of a hotel stay, including room rate and all other mandatory fees, on the first page of its booking website as part of the total room rate. Marriott has committed to implementing these changes within the next nine months. This will benefit not just Pennsylvanians, but consumers nationwide. Marriott is one of the largest hotel companies in the United States, and Attorney General Shapiro expects other hotel chains and third party vendors will take notice and follow suit.
AG Shapiro commends Marriott for being the first hotel to formally commit to the upfront disclosure of resort fees as part of the initial advertised price, a practice that should be considered the industry standard going forward.
The settlement was filed today, in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas by Senior Deputy Attorney General Jill T. Ambrose.
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