Marriott Customers Are Outraged That the Hotel Chain Is Doing This
The popular company has been hit with a lawsuit over this policy.
With more than 7,000 properties worldwide, Marriott is an extremely popular hotel chain among travelers. According to the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Travel Report, Marriott leads as one of the top five hotel chains in the U.S. But not all guests are feeling satisfied. The hotel chain has recently come under fire for a practice that might even be upsetting some of its most loyal of customers. Read on to find out what policy is causing backlash among guests—and has even led to a lawsuit.
Marriott customers are angry over added resort fees.
Several Marriott customers have recently taken to Twitter to complain about resort fees being added to the cost of their stay. "Please update your resort hotel info pages to include applicable resort fee. Finding out during booking process is not customer centric," one user tweeted Oct. 18. Another noted, "In May, booked via app Marriott New York Downtown in Sept. No resort fee. Logged onto app last night to see they have since added a $125 per stay 'destination fee'. For Wifi I already get as Platinum [member]. Wow!"
According to The Wall Street Journal, these resort fees, which are sometimes also referred to as "destination amenity fees," range anywhere from an additional $9 to $95. These fees are required to book a room online and seemingly cover a number amenities, including high-speed internet access and free water bottles at check-in. C. Patrick Scholes, a lodging analyst with Truist Securities Inc, told the news outlet that these fees were initially added at beachside properties and other resorts to cover additional costs, such as free beach towels, but are now being added to hotels in cities and other locations.
"If you're from a hotel company, you're saying, 'We're bundling all these things, you're getting a great value,'" Scholes explained. "If you're a customer, you might be saying, 'Well, I don't really want them, but I don't have a choice.'"
Marriott is facing a lawsuit over these fees.
In the summer of 2019, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine filed a lawsuit against Marriott International, Inc. over these resort fees. According to the lawsuit, Marriott is in violation of consumer-protection laws by only disclosing these fees during the booking process and not upfront when customers are looking at hotel prices.
Alongside paying back relief to tens of thousands of D.C. customers charged with hidden resort fees, the Office of the Attorney General's (OAG) lawsuit is seeking to force Marriott to advertise the true prices of its hotel rooms upfront from now on. "Bait-and-switch advertising and deceptive pricing practices are illegal," Racine said in a 2019 statement.
The lawsuit alleges that the hotel chain has profited millions in resort fees over the last few years.
The WSJ reported on Oct. 19 that newly unsealed court documents in the case show that the attorney general is alleging that Marriott hotels have collected more than $220 million in "deceptive" resort fees since 2012. According to the lawsuit, more than 180 Marriott properties have these additional costs in place.
The hotel chain was also already warned by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in Nov. 2012 that their pricing practices in relation to resort fees were likely violating federal consumer protection laws, alongside 21 other hotels, according to the OAG. And in 2017, the FTC's Bureau of Economics released a report, stating that "separating mandatory resort fees from posted room rates without first disclosing the total price is likely to harm consumers."
Marriott has denied intentionally misleading customers.
The next hearing for the OAG case against Marriott is scheduled for March 2022, according to the WSJ. But in court filings, the hotel chain has denied that it has intentionally misled customers. While the lawsuit accuses Marriott of keeping fees hidden "solely to increase profits," Jeffrey Wolff, Marriott's former long-time vice president for guest experience and rooms operations, said that if Marriott included resort fees in pricing upfront, it would "put [the hotel chain] at a competitive disadvantage," as reported by USA Today.
"We wanted to have profit," Wolff said in court documents. Best Life has reached out to Marriott for comment, but has not yet heard back.