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Are hotels hiding mandatory resort fees from consumers?

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Posted at 5:00 AM, Jul 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-23 12:41:00-04

PHOENIX — Marriott International is accused of not including mandatory fees in the advertised rates of some its properties, according to a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General for the District of Columbia.

Sometimes called resort, destination or amenity fees, the extra charges can increase a hotel room's price by a lot.

It's a practice the Federal Trade Commission calls price dripping, where mandatory fees aren't revealed until after the booking process begins.

We checked a room at the JW Marriott at Desert Ridge in Phoenix. The rate was listed at $199. After you select the room, the site shows taxes to be $29.41, which should make the total $228.41.

So why does the site show an amount due of $263.41? Because of the $35 resort fee, and you have to intentionally click on the "summary of charges" for it to actually show up as a line item.

Critics argue not showing true prices off the bat make it harder for consumers to comparison shop.

In its complaint filed earlier this month, the DC Attorney General's office accused Marriott of "deceptive 'drip pricing,'" saying the company "initially hides a portion of the price" and consumers are "misled into believing a Marriott hotel room is cheaper than it actually is."

According the complaint, the motive is "pure profit."

A spokesman for Marriott would not to us talk about the lawsuit but in a statement said in part, "Resort fees remain separately and clearly stated, consistent with guidance from the FTC and clear to the guest prior to completing the reservation on Marriott channels."

The statement went on to say," is a common practice in the industry to bundle amenities that would otherwise be charged individually."

The lawsuit asks a judge to ban the company from advertising rates that don't include the mandatory fees.