US Attorney Generals sued Marriott in 2019 (read more here) over “drop pricing” that doesn’t include all the mandatory fees and extras on the initial price quote on the hotel giant’s website.
Now, The Attorney General of Pennsylvania has reached an agreement with Marriott, which agrees to include all these non-government mandated fees displayed upfront and not lumped with the actual taxes.
You can access Marriott here.
READ MORE: Marriott Bonvoy Rate & Bonus Points Offers
Statement from the Attorney General of Pennsylvania:
AG SHAPIRO’S ACTION REQUIRES MARRIOTT TO DISCLOSE “RESORT FEES”
AG Encourages Consumers To Continue To Beware Of Hidden Booking Fees This Holiday Travel Season
HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that his office has reached a settlement with Marriott International, Inc. (“Marriott”) regarding the disclosure of “resort fees.”
Over the years, travelers have been reportedly misled by the published rates offered by hotels for a night’s stay only later to be hit with “resort fees” through the hotel industry’s practice of “drip pricing,” where the rate advertised does not include additional mandatory fees. With this settlement, Marriott has committed to putting a policy in place to be upfront and transparent in the disclosure of mandatory fees, including resort fees, as part of the total price of a hotel stay– allowing consumers to be able to compare total price costs for hotels and find the one that is the best fit for them.
“Hotels shouldn’t be able to slap hidden fees on top of your bill at the last minute, and thanks to this settlement we’re putting the hotel industry on notice to put an end to this deceptive practice,” said AG Josh Shapiro. “With costs going up and more seniors and families traveling for the holidays, consumers should beware of these surprise fees when booking. Marriott has stepped up to commit itself to fix this practice and we expect more hotel chains to follow suit.”
The Office of Attorney General’s investigation focused on the practice commonly referred to as “drip pricing.” With the drip pricing method, fees are gradually disclosed to consumers as they go through the booking process. Customers often don’t learn the total price of their booking, room rate plus resort fee, until the last page in the online booking process, or something until they check in at the hotel. AG Shapiro argues that such a pricing model is deceptive and a violation of Pennsylvania’s Consumer Protection Law.
Through today’s settlement, Marriott has committed to prominently disclose the total price of a hotel stay, including room rate and all other mandatory fees, on the first page of its booking website as part of the total room rate. Marriott has committed to implementing these changes within the next nine months. This will benefit not just Pennsylvanians, but consumers nationwide. Marriott is one of the largest hotel companies in the United States, and Attorney General Shapiro expects other hotel chains and third party vendors will take notice and follow suit.
AG Shapiro commends Marriott for being the first hotel to formally commit to the upfront disclosure of resort fees as part of the initial advertised price, a practice that should be considered the industry standard going forward.
The settlement was filed today, in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas by Senior Deputy Attorney General Jill T. Ambrose.
Here’s a statement that Marriott released:
Marriott International has long been committed to making sure that any resort/destination fees charged by hotels in the U.S. are separately and clearly stated. For many years, consistent with guidance from the Federal Trade Commission, we have clearly disclosed such fees on our channels throughout the booking process, with disclosures on multiple pages before the customer elects to book a room. Further, we have controls in place to ensure that hotels in our system that include a resort/destination fee adhere to strict criteria, which includes a requirement to provide amenities that have a value exceeding the amount of the resort/destination fee. Our agreement with the State of Pennsylvania further enhances the way resort/destination fees are fully disclosed on our U.S. channels and we will be working over the next several months to update the room rate display in accordance with that agreement.
1. They have never been CLEARLY stated.
2. There have never been “strict” criteria which hotels can charge resort & destination fees
3. Fees are structured in a way that they provide minimum value, and alternate amenities for elite guests could be worthless, such as a 10% guest shop discount
There have never been any other reasons for destination/resort fees than:
1. Lower initial pricing as these fees are usually incorrectly lumped with taxes
2. Most travel agents and travel professionals don’t get omissions on these fees
3. Some chains, Marriott included, allow hotels to charge them on award stays.
Resort Fee Inclusions Example:
There have been many instances when I have executed a search on Marriott’s website where hotels with very high “scam” fees have come up at a lower price than those that don’t charge any. This has essentially incentivized hotels to come up with creative fees to appear cheaper on the search and for the other reasons listed above.
Marriott has collected their program fees on these extra charges that are not qualifying for points under the Bonvoy guest loyalty program.
I wish we could get rid of these fees forever that provide absolutely no value for hotel guests.