A superior court judge has ruled that a lawsuit filed by the District of Columbia against Marriott International related to deceptive fees will not be dismissed.
The Attorney General of the District of Columbia filed the lawsuit against Marriott, claiming that it conceals a part of its daily room rates by listing a “resort fee,” an “amenity fee,” and a “destination fee.”
The District of Columbia alleges that doing so is in violation of D.C.’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act.
The plaintiff states that these deceptive practices are known by the Federal Trade Association as “drip pricing” and makes prospective hotel guests think that the hotel rooms are cheaper than they actually are.
In addition, D.C. claims that Marriott has received “hundreds of millions of dollars” within the past decade due to this deceptive practice. The attorney general has asked the court to provide injunctive relief which would stop these deceptive practices, the judge’s opinion states.
The judge goes on to say that D.C. states that Marriott’s advertised room prices are misleading as they are not the actual price that is charged to consumers, and that this misleading practice is a question of fact which should not be addressed at this point in the litigation.
“The Court finds that at this stage, this matter should proceed, and that Defendant will have an opportunity to challenge the sufficiency of the District’s claim through an appropriate motion once discovery is completed,” the judge’s order notes.
In its complaint filed against the hotel chain in July 2019, the Attorney General of the District of Columbia claimed that one effect of the price deception scheme is that potential consumers are tricked into thinking that the defendants hotel rooms are cheaper than they actually are.
“Marriott does not include these daily, mandatory fees in the room rate it advertises on its website and does not include them in the room rate advertised by the OTAs, thereby depriving consumers of the ability to readily ascertain and compare the actual price of a room at a Marriott hotel to the price of the hotel rooms offered by Marriott’s competitors and at other Marriott hotels,” the District of Columbia complaint states.
In addition, the lawsuit alleges that Marriott represents that the “resort fees” cover the cost of amenities, which would include parking that Marriott provides as free. These representations are allegedly false.
The lawsuit against Marriott was started after an investigation from the Attorneys General in all 50 states about the pricing practices within the hotel industry, the complaint states.
“At issue in this case is the growing and continued practice of hotels advertising daily room rates online but not including any mandatory resort fee charged in the initially advertised room rate,” the Marriott lawsuit argues.
The lawsuit states that in November 2012 the Federal Trade Commission warned hotels about “drip pricing” as it related to charging resort fees which may violate federal consumer protection law. The FTC stated that the most prominent price that is charged for a room should include the resort fee and should be provided up front.
Do you stay at Marriott hotels and get charged a resort fee? Leave a message in the comments section below.
The plaintiff is represented by by Jimmy R. Rock, Benjamin Wiseman and Matt James of the D.C. Attorney General’s Office.
The Marriott Deceptive Pricing Lawsuit is District of Columbia v. Marriott International Inc., Case No. 2019-CA-4497, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
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