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Nebraska AG files lawsuit against Hilton for resort fees

Updated July 24, 2019 - 6:30 pm

Nebraska’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against Hilton Hotels Corporation for its use of resort fees, two weeks after the District of Columbia attorney general filed a resort fee-related lawsuit against Marriott International Inc.

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Lancaster District Court, using the Tropicana in Las Vegas — a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel — as an example of how resort fees can “deceive and mislead consumers.”

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford’s office might have to take action if these lawsuits continue, according to Michael McCall, a professor at Michigan State University’s School of Hospitality Business.

“Nevada is a state dependent upon tourism, and taking the ‘resort fee temperature’ of consumers will be important,” McCall said via email.

The lawsuit accuses Hilton of hiding the “true price” of hotel rooms from consumers to increase profits and seeks to force Hilton to advertise the “true prices of its hotel rooms,” pay civil penalties and provide monetary relief to Nebraska consumers who have been harmed.

The Virginia-based company owns, manages and franchises about 5,700 hotels across 113 countries and territories. According to Hilton’s website, the company has 26 hotels in the Las Vegas Valley.

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 uses them.

Hilton spokesman Nigel Glennie told the Review-Journal resort fees are charged at fewer than 2 percent of its properties and “enable additional value” for guests.

Resort fees are “always fully disclosed when booking through Hilton channels,” Glennie said via email.

Peterson’s statement said at least 78 Hilton properties in the U.S. charge such hidden fees, which range from $15 to $45 per room per night, and customers only find out about these fees after they start to book a room.

Hilton’s failure to disclose fees harmed customers and violated Nebraska’s consumer protection laws, Peterson’s office said.

The Nebraska lawsuit follows an investigation by the attorneys general in the 50 states and Washington, D.C. Nevada attorney general spokeswoman Monica Moazez confirmed that the Nevada office was part of the investigation but could not comment on any potential litigation from the office.

The lawsuit said that for a customer searching for hotels in the Las Vegas Valley, a night at the Tropicana will appear to cost $95 a night. Consumers learn the property charges an additional $37 in resort fees each night on the second page of the booking process, according to the lawsuit. The resort fee is listed in the same place and same font as the nightly room rate on the fourth page, according to the lawsuit.

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

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