Texas AG Settles with Marriott and Goes After Hyatt Over Hidden Fees
Texas Attorney General Paxton revealed this week that his office entered into a settlement with Marriott International to ensure that the company properly discloses “resort fees” and other hidden costs to consumers in its advertisements and during the room 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.
In its voluntary agreement with Texas, Marriott denied it misrepresented room rates, mandatory fees or total price in its advertising. It also denies violating Texas consumer protection laws.
While Marriott has reached an agreement to address concerns about these undisclosed mandatory fees, a number of hotel chains have thus far not taken the same steps. Attorney General Paxton recently announced a lawsuit against Hyatt.
The Texas AG is accusing Hyatt of similar tactics, claiming the company is violating Texas consumer protection laws by marketing hotel rooms at prices that were not available to the public as advertised.
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.
The lawsuit says that 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.
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