Nebraska Attorney General Files Lawsuit Against Hotel and Casino Resorts for Hidden Fees
If you have ever gone through the process of booking a hotel room, you have probably noticed pesky resort fees. Resort fees aren’t necessarily prevalent during the booking process, but hotels are more than happy to slap them onto your bill once you’re ready to check out. For example, resorts in Las Vegas are notorious for their high resort fees.
While guests are typically forced to grumpily hand over the extra cash for the nebulous fee, it’s safe to say nobody likes doing so. Earlier this week, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson filed a lawsuit claiming hotels are unjust to charge such fees to their customers.
Peterson’s suit alleges that hotels and casinos are hiding the true price of a hotel room from guests. Hilton Hotels Corporation has been named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Hilton maintains over 5,700 properties worldwide with over 900,000 rooms in 113 countries and territories. Hilton owns a whopping 26 properties in the Las Vegas area alone.
Offenders Cited in the Suit
Peterson cited Hilton’s Tropicana Las Vegas casino resort and the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel as examples in his statement, which read, “Hilton conceals the true total price of hotel rooms by advertising one rate, then charging mandatory ‘resort fees,’ ‘daily mandatory charges,’ or ‘urban destination fees’ on top of the advertised price. At least 78 Hilton properties in the United States currently charge these hidden fees, which range from $15 to as much as $45 per room per night, and consumers only find out about these fees after they begin to book a room.”
The webpage for Tropicana Las Vegas claims that booking a room on the site comes with “no hidden fees.” However, renting a room advertised to cost $99 wound up costing $154.20 at checkout as a result of fees that includes a $37 resort fee in addition to standard taxes.
Earlier this month, Washington DC Attorney General Karl Racine filed a resorts fee-related suit against another hotel chain, Marriott.
Peterson’s claim included a screenshot that advertised a rate of $95 per night to stay at Tropicana Las Vegas.
He wrote, “Unbeknownst to the consumer at this stage of the booking process, the room rate for the Tropicana Las Vegas was deceptively low because the hotel charges an additional $37 per night resort fee that is added onto the room rate. Neither the amount nor the existence of the resort fee is disclosed on the search results page.”
Peterson goes on to say that the Hampton Inn Las Vegas is actually more affordable on a per-night basis than the Tropicana despite an advertised fee of $97 per night. Unlike Tropicana, the Hampton Inn does not charge a resort fee.
A.G. Seeking Transparency
Tropicana’s resort fee of $37 is meant to cover internet access, two daily bottles of water, discounted show tickets, fitness center access, overnight self or valet parking, a buy one-get one cocktail special and local toll-free phone calls. Peterson wants Hilton to be more transparent when it comes to renting out its lodging space. He said, “With today’s lawsuit, I ask the court to order Hilton to make necessary and meaningful changes to its business practices—but most importantly, to be transparent about its prices.”
Peterson is joining a growing chorus of people in Las Vegas that believe resort fees should be outlawed entirely. Some in the hotel industry believe that these kinds of hidden charges are actually hurting business, as more and more people opt for a different way to stay, such as Airbnb.
However, not everyone agrees. In an interview with Travel Weekly, Robert Cole—a Vegas-based lodging analyst—said, “The hotel groups that don’t use drip pricing are disadvantaged because their properties look artificially more expensive than the other hotels that are participating in this anti-consumer behavior and are artificially making their pricing look low. If you are doing the right thing for the consumer, you are at a structural disadvantage to those who are being hostile to the consumer, and that’s a problem.”
In Racine’s aforementioned suit against Marriott, the DC Attorney General claimed,
“Marriott reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in profit by deceiving consumers about the true price of its hotel rooms. Bait-and-switch advertising and deceptive pricing practices are illegal. With this lawsuit, we are seeking monetary relief for tens of thousands of District consumers who paid hidden resort fees and to force Marriott to be fully transparent about their prices so consumers can make informed decisions when booking hotel rooms.”
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