Texas Settles with Marriott, Sues Hyatt Over Unlawful Hidden Fees
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton alleges that hotel companies are engaging in fraudulent and anti-competitive practices by misleading consumers in advertisements which prevents comparative shopping and charging millions of dollars in hidden fees.
One company, Marriott International, said that it entered a voluntary agreement with the Texas AG to prominently display all “resort fees” and to increase price transparency in its advertisements and booking process.
This settlement will prohibit Marriott from engaging in unlawful, unfair, and deceptive trade practices in violation of Texas law with respect to the advertising of hotel room prices. These terms include a requirement that Marriott disclose clearly and conspicuously all “resort fees” and the total price of rooms as the most prominently displayed price, display room reservation search results for rooms by total price on its website, list “resort fees” separately from taxes or other governmental or imposed fees, and disclose clearly and conspicuously the goods and services covered by such fees.
While Marriott is working to address concerns about these undisclosed mandatory fees, a number of hotel chains have thus far not taken the same steps to inform consumers of the true costs of rooms. Attorney General Paxton recently announced a lawsuit against Hyatt for violating Texas consumer protection laws by charging consumers expensive mandatory and unavoidable fees in addition to daily room rates.
Hyatt implemented this practice by charging consumers mandatory and unavoidable fees—such as resort fees, destination fees, or amenity fees—in addition to daily room rates. Even when these fees were eventually disclosed, they were done so in a manner that was unlikely to alert consumers that the initial rate that attracted them was not, in fact, the actual price of the room.
Many of these fees have nothing to do with the customer experience. For example, resort fees charged by hotels do not necessarily align with “resort-like” experiences. In some cases, a significant portion of the amenities purportedly covered by resort fees, such as access to a fitness center and in-room Wi-Fi, are regularly offered free of charge at non-resort properties. Hyatt also charged these fees regardless of whether consumers used the amenities.
“Hyatt’s lack of transparency regarding hotel room prices has misled consumers and violated Texas law,” said Attorney General Paxton. “These deceptive practices enabled Hyatt to advertise lodging at artificially low rates, and it must end immediately. I will not stand by while Texas consumers are taken advantage of by Hyatt, or by any hotel chain that tries to get away with charging illegal hidden fees.”