Have you ever stayed at a hotel and found the bill upon check-out was $95 more a night than you expected, despite never ordering room service, and diligently avoiding the mini-bar? You might have been charged a resort fee—even if you weren’t staying at a resort.
Now, Marriott is being sued for charging guests resort fees, which can add an extra, unexpected charge to your bill each day of up to $95.00.
The basis of the suit is that Marriott is using “drip-pricing.” This is when fees are later added to an advertised price, and not disclosed at the time of purchase; in the case of Marriott, these fees are called “resort fees,” “amenities fees,” or “destination fees.”
Because these fees aren’t included in the price when customers are booking, but instead charged during or after a guest’s stay, they are deceived into thinking their hotel room will cost less than it ultimately costs.
In the opinion of the D.C. attorney who filed the suit, “This is a straight-forward price deception case.”
Marriott CEO Anne Sorenson has a different perspective:
“You’ve got resort fees in the hotel industry, you’ve got baggage fees in the airline space. None of us as consumers necessarily love it. But what we tried to do is to be very clear about our disclosure,” Sorenson said in an interview.
But resort fees are mandatory, unlike baggage fees—you can choose not to check a bag. Airlines aren’t allowed to leave out taxes and fees when they advertise fares—they used to do this, but the government put a stop to it.
You can reasonably expect that you might have to pay to check luggage on a flight.
But would you expect to be charged a daily $30.00 “destination fee” simply because the hotel you are staying at is in New York City?
As of January 1st, 2018 Marriott International implemented the $25 per day destination fee for the New York City market and all Marriott and Starwood properties have this in place.
Our Destination Fee includes thoughtful upgrades carefully curated to enhance you [sic] stay in New York City.
· $25 Food & Beverage Credit to be used in Southgate Restaurant and or In Room Dining
· Admission for (2) to Central Park Zoo and or (1) Cycle Class at CYC Fitness
· $30 Hotel Spa Credit and or $30 Laundry Credit
· Enhanced Wi-Fi / Local & Long Distance Calls
· A Central Park Tour: Self-guided through our specially curated website
Sorenson is right: we don’t love it.
Resort fees are odious and an obvious lie.
When we stay at a hotel, we expect we might have to pay more to stay in a popular destination, but not be charged separately for it. After all, anywhere can be a “destination.”
Marriott owns over 189 hotels across the world that charge resort fees.
Marriott’s CEO says that he doesn’t expect resort fees to go away anytime soon. But if this suit doesn’t go Marriott’s way, Marriott may have to stop charging these fees.