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Consumer Reports supports bill in Congress to stop hidden resort fees

Hotel Advertising Transparency Act requires hotels to include all fees in advertised price for rooms 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumer Reports urged lawmakers in Congress today to support legislation that would prohibit hotels from advertising the price of a room without including all mandatory fees charged during a traveler’s stay.  The Hotel Advertising Transparency Act of 2019, introduced by Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) aims to protect travelers from fees that aren’t listed in the advertised price.

“Travelers shouldn’t have to read the fine print to figure out all the fees they’ll be charged for staying at a hotel,” said Anna Laitin, director of financial policy for Consumer Reports.   “Hotels should be required to include all mandatory fees in their advertised rate so consumers won’t get stung with a higher bill than what they’re expecting to pay when booking a room.”

Hotels have come under fire in recent years for failing to clearly disclose mandatory fees to travelers.  In 2012 and 2013, the Federal Trade Commission sent letters to 34 hotels and 11 online travel agencies warning them that they may be violating the law by not including all fees in the advertised price for rooms.  However, the Commission failed to take any further action to stop the practice, which has continued unabated.

In August, Consumer Reports called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate and stop hotels that charge mandatory resort fees that are not included in the base, advertised rate for rooms.  An investigation by Consumer Reports this summer found that 31 of the 34 hotels previously targeted by the FTC continue to charge resort fees and none of those include the fees in the price quoted to consumers.  Similarly, none of the 10 online travel agencies that are still operating today includes the resort fees in the initial quoted price.

Major hotels have also been the subject of lawsuits challenging hidden resort fees.  In early July, the DC Attorney General sued Marriott for charging deceptive and misleading resort fees that hide the true cost of booking a room at the hotel chain.  Later that month, the Nebraska Attorney General filed a similar lawsuit against Hilton.

Michael McCauley, mmccauley@consumer.org, 415-431-6747, ext 7606