AUSTIN (KXAN) – The Texas Attorney General’s office announced Wednesday it sued the Hilton hotel chain for “misleading consumers about the true costs of hotel rooms in violation of Texas consumer protection laws.”
The lawsuit filing came after the AG’s office sued Hyatt Hotels on May 15, accusing that company of violating Texas law by “marketing hotel rooms at prices that were not available to the public as advertised.”
The Attorney General’s office said on May 16 it entered a fee settlement with Marriott International to make sure the company discloses fees and rates consumers would pay in advertisements and during the room booking process.
In the Hilton lawsuit, the AG’s office alleged that the hotel chain “developed a troubling pattern of forcing mandatory fees onto their customers.”
Among the Attorney General office allegations:
- Consumers are often not fully made aware of these (mandatory) fees
- They (consumers) were shown the (mandatory) fees in ways that can be difficult to notice
- Hilton “misleadingly charge consumers higher rates than initially advertised”
- Services “purportedly funded by the fees” are often complimentary or included in the room rate at other non-resort locations
In a statement, a Hilton spokesperson said its fees were fully disclosed when booking through Hilton channels.
Read the full statement below.
While decisions about mandatory fees are made by ownership and management at a property level, these fees are always fully disclosed when booking through Hilton channels and we encourage all third-party distribution partners to disclose any fees when advertising our inventory.
We have long been committed to ensuring that any fees charged by hotels in our system are fully disclosed and continue to review this issue closely to ensure there is consistency for consumers when viewing our rates across booking channels.A Hilton spokesperson
The Attorney General’s office also accused the hotel chain of changing the room rates during checkout and charging nominal mandatory fees twice — first as a “fee” and then as a “tax,” “amounting in the aggregate to millions of dollars in fraudulent charges”, according to the AG’s office.
“Heightened inflation and worsening economic conditions have made it an even more pressing priority to protect Americans from predatory, illegal corporate practices,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said in Wednesday’s press release.
“Many major hotel chains, including Hilton, have been deceiving their customers for far too long,” he added. “I warned these companies they would face consequences for this behavior, and Texas has delivered aggressive action to protect consumers, promote price transparency in the hotel and travel industries, and ensure that companies violating our laws are held responsible for misleading the public.”