Class action lawsuit goes after hotels that fail to disclose resort fees

Lawyer calls hidden 'resort fees' an 'insidious practice'

If you have ever glanced at your hotel receipt only to be stunned to see an unexpected $28 resort fee, help may be on the way.

A Studio City man has filed a class-action suit against a Las Vegas casino, claiming that the resort is guilty of false and misleading advertising for failing to clearly disclose a mandatory resort fee at the time that he booked the room.

The practice is not unique to Las Vegas.

Undisclosed resort fees are such a prevalent problem that the Federal Trade Commission sent out a letter to 22 hotel companies in 2012, warning that their online reservation sites “may violate the law by providing a deceptively low estimate of what consumers can expect to pay for their hotel rooms.”

In the lawsuit, Benjamin Brin said he booked a three-night stay at the Palazzo hotel in Las Vegas in June of last year. The booking website said he would pay a total rate of $209, excluding taxes and fees. Once he received his billing receipt, Brin learned that he was charged a “resort fee” of $28 a night.

“This rate is not the accurate quote of the nightly cost of the hotel per night,” the lawsuit contends. “Nowhere in the reservation system page, including the price, is the resort fee specified.”

A spokesman for Las Vegas Sands Corp., the owner of the Palazzo and the Venetian casinos, declined to comment on the suit.

Brian Kabateck, an attorney for Brin, said he has heard from many hotel guests who have groused about being surprised by resort fees on their hotel receipts. “This is really an insidious practice,” he said.

Although the U.S. Department of Transportation regularly imposes fines against airlines that fail to disclose the full airfare, there may be too many hotels in the U.S. for the Federal Trade Commission to enforce the disclosure law on hotels, Kabateck said.

“The U.S. has a very definite number of airlines,” he said. “When you are dealing with hotels, you have too many to track. Just consider in Las Vegas alone how many hotels you have.”

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
60°