Settlement with Choice Hotels is AG Henry’s Latest Action to Quash Hidden “Resort Fees” and “Drip Pricing” for Travelers

September 21, 2023 | Topic: Consumers

AG Henry Encourages Consumers to Continue to Beware of Hidden Booking Fees

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Michelle Henry announced that her office has reached a multi-state settlement with Choice Hotels International, Inc. (“Choice”) regarding the disclosure of “resort fees” and “drip pricing” — practices that leave consumers with surprisingly larger bills at checkout.

Under the settlement, Choice, which owns such brands as Quality and Comfort hotels, agrees to immediately disclose all fees attached to a stay so consumers can budget responsibly and have the ability to compare prices.

The settlement is the latest product of the Office of Attorney General’s efforts to hold hoteliers and online travel agencies accountable for hidden fees and “drip pricing” — fees added on as consumers progress through the booking process.

The Office of Attorney General reached a landmark settlement with Marriott in 2021, and earlier this year, took further action to ensure Marriott abided by the settlement terms.

“The fairness we seek for consumers is reasonable and appropriate— be up front with shoppers who have many lodging options and are free to explore those options,” Attorney General Henry said. “These hidden, 11th-hour, resort fees are intentionally designed to dupe consumers into thinking they are getting a better deal than the actual bottom line. We credit Choice for stepping up and committing to fix this deceptive practice.

The states’ investigations focused on the practice commonly referred to as “drip pricing.” With the “drip pricing” method employed by many hotel chains and online travel agencies, 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 sometimes until they check in at the hotel. Attorney General Henry has argued that “drip pricing” is deceptive and a violation of Pennsylvania’s Consumer Protection Law.

Through today’s settlement, Choice has committed to prominently disclosing 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. Choice has committed to implementing these changes by the end of 2023.

Pennsylvania was joined in this settlement by Attorneys General from Colorado, Nebraska, and Oregon. This will benefit not only the residents of these four states, but consumers nationwide.

The settlement was filed today, in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas by Assistant Director for Litigation Jill T. Ambrose.

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