Class Action Filed Against Marriott Over Resort Fees

A consumer has now filed a class action lawsuit against Marriott over resort fees. Here’s the full complaint.

The lead plaintiff has stayed at over 45 Marriott properties and contends resort fees are ‘drip pricing’. He claims not to have realized resort fees applied for some of his stays when he made his booking, because those fees are obscured (under “taxes and fees”).

He further claims:

  • Marriott advertised a lower price to him than what he was charged
  • Marriott’s presentation makes it appear as though resort fees are government-mandated
  • The practice made it difficult to compare prices
  • Had full pricing been displayed, consumers may have made different decisions about where to book.


JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort Charges a $35 Resort Fee

Marriott is currently being sued by DC over its resort fee practices. Hilton is being sued by Nebraska.

Marriott, for its part, shares just how well-disclosed resort fees are:

The hotel chain’s CEO says resort fees are good for you, they add so much value of course that consumers can’t be given the option to purchase the add-ons, the charges have to be made mandatory yet hidden outside the room rate.

The law firm in the case files myriad class actions.

I therefore put the firm pursuing the case in the bucket of class action ambulance chasers. It’s unlikely consumers will get much if anything out of this, though if the case is successful the plaintiff’s lawyers will do very well (the lead plaintiff might do well, too).

What we can hope to gain from all of this pressure – and I like the class action approach better than the state attorneys general approach – is a change in industry practice where mandatory charges are included in the room rate so that consumers can compare pricing.

(HT: Sexy_kitten7)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. If we get an end to the “resort fee” scam that would be the best possible outcome. If I said “government taxes and fees” to any reasonable person, they would think that the government imposes taxes and fees. The suit is correct that this is misleading, and I would say intentionally so. Go plaintiffs!

  2. Unfortunately case law doesn’t support the defense of taxes…” AND fees” being misleading for the consumer not knowing any better. I wish it did. The bigger consumer angle should be ok how it forces point bookings to also pay the resort fees which in many cases those points were earned before the resort fee existed or were at least less. Also, that these mandated fees don’t accrue points which is further devalue…

  3. Who else is up for a class action lawsuit against Hilton?
    Also most of the Las Vegas hotels that charge $50 resort fees (Venetian looking at you)

  4. There is some benefit to using a firm that handles a lot of class action work. I don’t know the firm suing Marriott, but some class action failures are to be expected. If you have heart surgery you don’t want a surgeon who does hip replacements most of the time. And no reputable surgeon or lawyer will guarantee success.

    The whole point of class actions is to aggregate enough plaintiffs to make a lawsuit worthwhile. Each plaintiff suffers a small amount of damages and thus is entitled to a small recovery, but putting them together can effect changes in business behavior that benefits society as a whole. That is the justification for the lawyers making out like bandits.

    I say good luck to ’em and hope they can benefit consumers be getting hotels to change their practices regarding resort fees.

  5. Just the fact that: “for more details about the Guest Resort Fee at the Walt Disney World Swan, visit the hotel’s website here: http://spr.ly/6014E02Lu and scroll to “Related Documents” then click on “Guest Resort Service Package Information” to open the PDF.”, pretty much says that the information isn’t readily available to the average consumer.
    The fee info should be stated CLEARLY and upfront.

    I hope the plantiff wins, unlike the “completely objective” reporter: “I therefore put the firm pursuing the case in the bucket of class action ambulance chasers. It’s unlikely consumers will get much if anything out of this, though if the case is successful the plaintiff’s lawyers will do very well (the lead plaintiff might do well, too).”

  6. @Anthony I don’t personally stand to gain anything directly from a settlement, since I adamantly refuse to stay at places that have these scam fees. Nothing to reimburse to me. However, I would be thrilled if the scamsters were simply forced to quote all-in prices, which would end the unjust benefit they get in searches by deceptively labeling part of their room cost as a “resort fee.”

  7. The thing that made me wonder what travel has come to was the RC San Juan charging a mandatory resort fee that was a percentage of your room rate. What?

  8. Everyone let me tell you how this will play out. First of all I seriously doubt Marriott would lose this case since they do disclose the fees (may be tough to find them but they are disclosed). However, as is the case with many class action suits it is cheaper to settle and avoid all the legal and court fees.

    My speculation is Marriott with settle this with an agreement to better disclose such fees in the future. That will be it for any customer. Of course they will agree to pay a few million in attorney’s fees and expenses. Anyone that has been part of a class action suit, with rare exceptions, gets little or nothing and the ambulance chaser makes all the money.

    Sad but true.

  9. Some class actions are predatory, driven by the lawyers to find gotchas that result in virtually no relief for consumers but hefty fees for the lawyers. Some are affirmatively bad for consumers because they simply divert consumer payments to lawyers in the form of fees that end up causing prices to raise.

    But some actually turn out to be highly effective means of ending consumer deception because they make it too expensive to continue a business practice. Resort fees are cynical and designed expressly to trick or confuse consumers. If they weren’t they would simply be part of the room rate. This one may actually do some good. Marriott’s are so deceptive that they went too far.

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