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Marriott sued by District of Columbia because of resort fees

The attorney general for the District of Columbia is suing Marriott for its use of resort fees, pointing to the Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel as an example of how the company is allegedly deceiving customers by hiding a portion of its daily rates.

The lawsuit against Marriott was filed Tuesday in District of Columbia’s Superior Court after an investigation conducted by all 50 state attorneys general.

Jessica Adair, spokeswoman for the Nevada Attorney General’s office, said the office is still deciding on what steps to take following the investigation. The office is not currently involved in a resort fees lawsuit.

“We’re still looking at the complaint from the D.C. AG’s office and evaluating the facts in order to make the best decision for Nevada,” she said.

In the lawsuit, the office of the District of Columbia attorney general says the case is about “straight-forward price deception.”

Marriott says it doesn’t comment on pending litigation but is continuing its discussions with other state attorneys general.

The lawsuit accuses Maryland-based Marriott of using drip pricing, an unlawful practice in which companies hide a portion of a hotel room’s daily rate in advertisements, using terms like “resort fees,” “amenity fees,” or “destination fees.”

A resort fee is a mandatory fee that an overnight guest must pay for additional services such as Wi-Fi, pool and gym access, regardless of whether the guest actually uses them.

“Consumers shopping for a hotel room on either Marriott’s website, or a travel agency site … are misled into believing a Marriott hotel room is cheaper than it actually is,” the lawsuit reads. “Marriott’s motive in continuing this deceptive practice is pure profit.”

According to the lawsuit, this practice has earned Marriott hundreds of millions of dollars over the past decade, with at least 189 properties charging resort fees ranging from $9 to $95 a day. Marriott has 28 hotels in the Las Vegas Valley, according to its website.

The lawsuit is seeking a court order that requires Marriott to advertise the fees up front.

Casino executives and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority have said they don’t have evidence resort fees are turning away customers.

Images included in the lawsuit show screenshots of booking rates listed at $219 last month. But the quoted room rate does not include, or mention, the mandatory resort fee.

Eventually, customers are allowed to click a “Summary of Charges” button to find they are being charged an additional $30 in destination amenity fees and $33.32 for additional “estimated government taxes and fees” for a total of $282.32.

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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