National Consumers League

DC takes lead in fight against deceptive hotel resort fees

July 10, 2019

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) is applauding District of Columbia (DC) Attorney General Karl Racine for his action this week to rein in Marriott International’s use of deceptive “resort fees.” According to the consumer group, the fees hide the true cost of a hotel stay and are too often presented to consumers in a “take it or leave it” fashion at the end of their hotel stays. On Tuesday, Racine filed a lawsuit against Marriott alleging that the hotel chain violated consumer protection laws by not including resort fees in the advertised room rates, luring consumers with deceptively low prices.

“Hotel resort fees tacked on at the end of a hotel stay are deceptive, plain and simple,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “That’s why NCL and other consumer groups have been raising the alarm about these anti-consumer practices for years. We are grateful to General Racine for leading the charge against Marriott and putting other hotels on notice that deceptive hotel resort fees have no place in the District.”

Advocates’ issue with resort fees is that they prevent consumers from being able to accurately compare the cost of a hotel room when they don’t know what the all-in costs will be until the end of their stay. Mandatory hotel resort fees leave consumers stuck paying extra costs that may have discouraged the booking had they been disclosed up-front.

Marriott owns, manages, and franchises more than 5,700 hotels and 1.1 million hotel rooms in more than 110 countries, including at least 29 hotels in the District of Columbia. In 2012 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned Marriott and nearly two dozen other hotel chains that their pricing practices around resort fees may violate federal consumer protection laws by misrepresenting the true price of hotel rooms. In 2017, the FTC’s Bureau of Economics issued a report concluding that “separating mandatory resort fees from posted room rates without first disclosing the total price is likely to harm consumers.”

Marriott has charged resort fees to tens of thousands of District consumers over the years, totaling millions of dollars. Racine’s lawsuit alleges that over the past decade, Marriott has violated the District’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act and harmed District consumers.

“Marriott had fair warnings on several occasions but continued this unfair and deceptive business practice. We are so pleased that General Racine is seeking monetary relief for residents of the District who have been forced to pay these fees,” said John Breyault, NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud. “We urge other state attorneys general to enforce their consumer protection laws against Marriott and other hotel chains whose are sticking millions of consumers with these deceptive, unwanted fees.”

The complaint is available at: https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2019-07/Marriott-Complaint.pdf

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.