Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine has filed a lawsuit against the international hotel chain Marriott over the claim that it is charging its customers hidden amounts under the “resort fees” policy.
It is asserted that the company earned millions of dollars through resort fees that are not shown in the advertisement rates for hotel rooms or at the time of booking. The obligatory fees cover utilities such as Wi-Fi.
The unlawful practice is called “drip pricing,” which means additional fees are included in an advertised price.
According to the lawsuit, the hotel chain has been breaching the District of Columbia’s consumer protection laws for over 10 years, especially over online booking websites like Priceline, Expedia and Booking.com.
Racine stated in his petition to the court that the additional fees typically emerge after the room is booked or when the customer is checking out of the hotel.
“Over the last decade, Marriott has increased its use of these fees,” Racine was quoted as saying to the media. “Bait-and-switch advertising and other forms of deceptive pricing are unfair and illegal.”
He explained that his main goal with the lawsuit was not to outlaw the practice of resort fees, but to make sure they are clearly disclosed to customers.
Racine also pointed out that the company’s website is not explicitly stating the services paid for under the “resort fees.”
ABC News reported that a Marriott spokesperson said “We don’t comment on pending litigation, but we look forward to continuing our discussions with other state AGs,” without further speaking about the specific allegations.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, the Marriott International is known as the largest hotel chain in the world, operating in 131 countries. Among the 32 brands that are run by Marriott internationally are The Ritz-Carlton, W Hotels, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, Sheraton Hotels and Resorts, Le Méridien, Renaissance Hotels and others.
The Fortune magazine ranked Marriott as the 33rd business on its “100 Best Companies to Work For” list in 2017.
Some Twitter users expressed their support for the lawsuit, criticizing the hotel chain’s pricing policy.
— Natalie Brunell (@natbrunell) July 10, 2019
— Clam Pies Venture Capital [Fiction] (@clam_pie) July 11, 2019
They do this in Vegas too. You should know costs up front.
— RaNae Dodgen (@Whatwyo) July 10, 2019
Tired of hotel resort fees? Lawsuit against Marriott says charges are 'deceptive' https://t.co/snSXgALAFn
— Aaron Elekes (@aaronelekes) July 10, 2019