Washington D.C. sues Marriott in connection with resort fees

by | Aug 7, 2019 | Chains

The famous hotel brand Marriott, faces a lawsuit made by the capital of the U.S

There is a growing push to eliminate resort fees, which are now embedded in the business models of international hotel companies.

The U.S. capital, Washington D.C., is suing Marriott International over resort fees, alleging that the biggest hotel company in the world “has reaped hundreds of millions of dollars over the last decade” through what the lawsuit describes as “deceptive” charges.

The complaint was filed last month in the U.S. court system, and the crux of it is that Marriott is engaging in “an unlawful trade practice,” one that violates the District’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act by using what the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has labeled as “drip pricing.” What’s at issue here are resort fees — sometimes referred to as amenity or destination fees — and the suit says that Marriott owns, manages or franchises at least 189 properties in the world that charge these fees, ranging in price from $9 to $95 per day.

More About the Lawsuit

The lawsuit also states that Marriott has insisted that it approves resort fees before its franchisees — who are the owners of many Marriott-affiliated properties — are allowed to charge guests the fees.

At the heart of the lawsuit, however, is actually transparency. The filing alleges that Marriott is hiding these fees from consumers on its website and on the popular online travel agent sites such as Expedia or Priceline. The suit says that Marriott excludes the fees from room rates or by camouflaging them in the “taxes and fees” section that is shown online or on credit card statements.

Marriott International spokesman Brett McManus has told the media that the company does not comment on pending litigation, but that they look forward to continuing their discussions with officials in other U.S. states.

The History of Resort Fees

This is not the first time that these resort fees have stirred up trouble.

In fact, seven years ago the U.S. Federal Trade Commission warned the hotel industry that resort fee practices might violate consumer protection laws by misrepresenting the real costs of a hotel stay. The lawsuit notes that Marriott previously received a warning letter from the FTC about these fees, which described them as drip pricing practices. In 2017, the FTC also issued a report that stated that separating resort fees from room rates was likely to harm consumers.

That original complaint, the lawsuit noted, was “followed an investigation by the Attorneys General in all 50 states and the District of Columbia regarding the pricing practices of the hotel industry.”

In all likelihood, this matter is likely to be an ongoing one for hotel companies operating within the United States.

Let’s take a look at a few more hotel projects by Marriott:

Four Points by Sheraton Flushing

aloft Hotel Chicago Lincoln Park

Element Charleston Historic Downtown

ABOUT THE CHAIN

 

Marriott International, Inc. is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of more than 7,000 properties under 30 leading brands spanning 131 countries and territories.

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