There was a time when consumers could purchase a plane ticket or make a hotel reservation without worrying that the price they were quoted did not include numerous hidden fees. Many consumers now realize that, at least for airline reservations, there will be many extra fees, such as for luggage or a seat with extra leg room. What many consumers do not realize is that hotels have begun adding their own hidden charges to their room rates. While these extra fees may be annoying, they are not deceptive so long as they are disclosed. However, the FTC has recently warned 22 major hotel chains that their practice of disclosing these fees only when consumers check in may be deceptive.
According to the FTC, this practice, known as “drip pricing”, is a practice by which hotels advertise only part of a product’s price and reveal other charges as the customer goes through the buying process. This affects most customers of these hotels as the use of on-line reservations increases in popularity. The practice is especially unfair, as travelers who learn about the hidden fees only when they check in have little choice at that point other than to pay the fees or face the prospect of finding a hotel, luggage in tow. This is also an issue for consumers using third party websites like Priceline.
For example, one consumer reported that he made a reservation for a Marriott hotel through Priceline (which does not reveal the name of the hotel until after a consumer has paid for the reservation). This consumer was informed that the rate was $150 a night, but the confirmatory email stated that he would be charged an extra $22 in fees. If you or someone you know was charged an undisclosed fee by a hotel or resort, please contact us to discuss your legal options.