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Travelers United Takes on MGM Over Resort Fees

Travelers United Takes on MGM Over Resort Fees
Joe Cortez

After seeing a rise in resort fees and reduction of benefits, Travelers United is taking MGM Resorts International to court over their billing practices. The advocacy group claims fees which are not advertised as part of a room price violate the Consumer Protection Procedures Act.

Travel advocacy group Travelers United says MGM Resorts International practice of adding “resort fees” at check-in is illegal, and will take the hospitality giant to court over it. In a press release, the group announced their lawsuit, alleging collecting fees is in violation of the Consumer Protection Procedures Act in Washington, D.C.

Travelers United Says Federal Trade Commission Inaction Led to Lawsuits

According to Travelers United, the practice of adding an additional “resort fee” creates a false advertising situation for consumers. While guests think they are getting one price, the advocates claim the add-on fees on top of advertised rates and taxes – which they say can reach up to $45 per night – creates a serious problem.

“For the last decade, MGM has used an unlawful trade practice called ‘drip pricing’ in advertising its hotel rooms whereby MGM initially hides a portion of the hotel room’s daily rate from consumers,” the lawsuit filed in the District of Columbia reads. “MGM calls this hidden portion of the room rate a ‘resort fee’ at all of its properties in the United States including at the MGM National Harbor which is extremely popular with district residents…MGM has reaped hundreds of millions of dollars over the last decade from this deceptive ‘drip pricing.’”

The group claims the fees caused by “drip pricing” have nothing to do with the hotel amenities, including operating pools and health clubs on site. Because MGM resorts elected to close their amenities during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Travelers United says the company disproved the need for an additional “resort fee.”

Furthermore, the group says the inaction of the Federal Trade Commission has forced them to choose to take their actions to court. Although Travelers United says they have worked closely with the FTC in the past, they claim “…the FTC has not acted and they have failed the American consumers with their inaction on this false advertising.”

MGM Resorts International has not released a statement on the allegations in the lawsuit, nor have they filed a response. The claims remain before the court, and a judge has yet to rule on the suit.

Lawsuit Mirrors Others Against Marriott and Hilton

The group says the lawsuits are similar to others against hotel companies. In July 2019, the Attorney General of Washington, D.C. sued Marriott International over resort fees. Days later, the Nebraska attorney general filed a lawsuit against Hilton over “deceptive resort fees and misleading Nebraska consumers.”

Feature image courtesy: MGM Resorts International

View Comments (27)

27 Comments

  1. kokomo2

    March 12, 2021 at 5:15 am

    Yay!! About time to eliminate these hidden fees and allow travelers to accurately compare room rates when making reservations. I think the total amount that a person will be paying for a room, including taxes and nefarious fees, should be disclosed in dollar amounts PRIOR to booking a room. Most travelers don’t figure the “plus 12% tax” on the room rate. It should be included as a dollar rate in the room fee. Cable companies should be required to do the same…total pricing…but I digress…..

  2. MRM

    March 12, 2021 at 5:20 am

    I agree. I always thought those fees were a joke every single time I’ve stayed at anything resembling a resort throughout my life (3 times). Seems fishy at best and downright shark-y at worst. Be better – resort wanna-be’s!

  3. flurb

    March 12, 2021 at 5:40 am

    It’s a double edged scam.
    Not only do the hotels fleece the customers with the additional, unadvertised price hike, but they also avoid paying hotel taxes to local municipalities for the percentage of the room rentals.

  4. MitchR

    March 12, 2021 at 5:50 am

    “Resort fees” are one of the biggest scams in travel. In COVID times most amenities are non-existent, you’re lucky to get a USA Today and “free local calls.” When a La Quinta charges them you have to wonder what you are paying for.

  5. skidaddy74012

    March 12, 2021 at 6:07 am

    Go Travelers United. All resort fees should be eliminated.

  6. Podcat

    March 12, 2021 at 6:08 am

    Right on.

    FTC? Another three-letter bureaucracy, useless as tits on a boar hog.

  7. sfcharles1

    March 12, 2021 at 6:36 am

    Thank you Travelers united!
    I for one am tired of getting to the front desk and being hit with resort fees of $20-$75 a day. It’s fundamentally dishonest, and you cannot often opt out of them.
    And they are meaningless. Charging you a massive amount for Internet access when you don’t need it anymore. And what the hell in a regular hotel or a casino is a “resort“ where you pay for absolutely every thing that you touch. It’s just a way to go change. And it’s great that we are coming back to an era of consumer advocacy!

    There’s no reason consumers can’t be protected by straight honesty from the people that we’re giving our money to. Tell us the price,. And tell us the price of room plus tax. And leave it at that. Otherwise it’s just sleazy.

  8. Grog

    March 12, 2021 at 6:37 am

    Git ’em.

  9. StrongEagle

    March 12, 2021 at 7:23 am

    Since I’m not a business traveler, I’m not captive to hotels, and these extraneous (and outrageous) fees are one reason I always seek alternative lodging.

  10. Berniecfc

    March 12, 2021 at 9:15 am

    This practice has been going on for years, the FTC seem scared to act for whatever reason. One could suspect that Law-Makers when checking into Hotels, perhaps enjoy the benefits of free upgrades, non resort fee payment and other “benefits”. So not wishing to rock their “Perks Boat” there is little motivation to correct this corrupt practice.

  11. bortain

    March 12, 2021 at 11:00 am

    Resort fees are nothing more deceptive pricing.to pull you in and sock it to you at check in where they pretty much have you backed into a corner. Hopefully, Travelers United will prevail!

  12. johninmelbourne

    March 12, 2021 at 12:01 pm

    Once again, it is ONLY PEOPLE POWER that will fix this problem.

    Vote with your feet, and hard as will be, DON’T go to Vegas. Americans need to send a clear message to the hotel/casino chains that the time has come to change or else. Once occupancy drops and hotels start closing, they will get the message. But you need to tell them loud and clear why you are not going there anymore. By the time it starts to really bite, both Nevada State Government and the Federal Government will wake up and start moving on fixing these problems.

    Americans are far too complacent when it comes to fixing problems. That’s why these scams get worse and worse. Be part of the solution not the problem.

  13. melmike

    March 12, 2021 at 12:46 pm

    As a non-american I have always railed against these absurd & greedy “fees”. Got hit once in Hawaii – never again. Resorts in Asia are luxurious, with excellent food and service and more interesting cultural options.

  14. BudgetJetsetter

    March 12, 2021 at 2:15 pm

    It really started getting out of hand when hotels in cities started charging their own resort fees but some calling it “destination fees” or urban destination charge”.

    It’s an anti-consumer practice and should be eliminated. I’m glad it was eliminated years ago with airfare.

  15. Danwriter

    March 12, 2021 at 7:05 pm

    “Resort” and “destination” fees are despicable. Here’s hoping the new admin in DC, via the FTC, does away with them.

  16. DCABarry

    March 12, 2021 at 7:09 pm

    Flurb: ” they also avoid paying hotel taxes to local municipalities for the percentage of the room rentals.”

    The local tax authorities are not THAT stupid. Everywhere I’ve encountered these fees there is an ADDITIONAL tax charge at the respective hotel tax percentage. That just enhances the “play” that the hotel is using.

    The big problem IMO is that the fees, while (by law) disclosed on-line before the booking is made, in most cases they not appear until the 11th hour in the purchase process.

    If the hotel booking platforms (not necessarily that exact hotel’s website) did not allow those hotels to “claim” that a night will cost let’s say $100 + local tax when in reality it’s $100+42.50+ local tax, these fees may very well disappear. At $100 the hotel is much higher in the option menu (when sorted for price – which is what most people use- than $142.50.

    These hotels are not dishonest in their charges – they can charge whatever they want and customers can walk-away – they are dishonest in their marketing.

    Suing the hotel chains isn’t the answer, it’s the bookers that allow this practice in mass – Travelocity, Expedia, Hotel dot com, and the like could change this in a moment. Disclosure of the real full price – maybe minus local hotel taxes – which are similar in any particular geographic area.

    In some countries – the price you are quoted is what you will pay includes all taxes and fees (including bogus ones), period. New Zealand for example. Retail items in most of Europe are largely like this.

  17. am1108

    March 14, 2021 at 8:43 am

    These fees should be transparent and many of the perks are not even used. I stayed at one casino hotel that charged a resort fee and it included phone calls, valet parking, pool access, etc. I don’t need it as I have my own cell phone, I don’t use the pool and did not have a vehicle anyways. It’s a sham to the consumer and a sham to the local / state governments and not sure why many municipalities are not looking into these practices a lot more. Even the OTAs should have an option to search for the price with resort fees, they can certainly look up the info and many of them even know that there is a resort fee and know the cost of the fees themselves. I would be willing to use a tool like that vs. hopping all over to do the work myself.

  18. enggeol

    March 14, 2021 at 11:34 am

    This peculiarly American practice of resort fees really does more harm that good – when I last when on vacation to the States I looked carefully and avoided any hotel where resort fees existed. It is a slight of hand attempted con trick on the unsuspected and can do nothing for loyalty. I presume the hope is that whilst they get away with it hotel chains can profit from it but people generally have good memories and won’t be bitten twice.

  19. rylan

    March 15, 2021 at 6:03 pm

    Good for Travelers United. Vegas was one of the first places to start the bogus resort fee scam, just collecting extra money for the same services and amenities you were getting anyway.

    Then hotels nationwide started getting into the greedy resort fee bs. Even worse is the ‘destination fee’ where they just charge a bogus fee because you’re staying near a city or beach or anything. I have zero sympathy for the hotels/resorts/casinos. They’ve been doing this to hide their real rates from booking sites and collect piles of additional money for no services.

  20. DeltaFlyer123

    March 16, 2021 at 7:19 am

    I really don’t have anything to add to the previous comments, I too fully agree that this practice must be stopped. I hope the legal actions work, and the hotels involved are made to refund these ill-gotten profits, and people avoid doing business with them.

  21. Danwriter

    March 16, 2021 at 7:37 am

    It’s not just Vegas. Hotels everywhere have embraced this despicable practice. Places like Indianapolis and Kansas City are neither resorts nor “destinations.”

  22. Sydneyberlin

    March 16, 2021 at 5:31 pm

    It’s for the most of it a unique US policy that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. I suspect that hotel companies simply think they can get away with it as US consumers are already accustomed to pay insane amount of tips and,in some states, additional taxes on top of the advertised price. I fully understand that tipping in the US is a necessity to keep the poor workers afloat financially as their base salary is so low. But like the taxes hat get added to the net price in some states, this seems to make people more willing to accept additional charges on top of the advertised price. And contrary to tips, in this case it just goes into the coffers of big corporate hotel groups and not to the little guy who actually provides a service.

  23. rjpjr

    March 18, 2021 at 4:21 pm

    How many times is this lawsuit going to be filed and shot down? The hotels tell you exactly what they justify as “resort fees” so they aren’t hidden (except to the blind or those who buy crap on HotWire) – same as checked bag fees with the airliones. If you don’t like the fee, look for another hotel. Good luck finding one in, say, Las Vegas. But at least some of them are now waiving resort fees if you don’t use the pool or the internet. Who needs the latter anyway. Tether to your phone if you don’t have built in wireless on your iPad.

  24. htb

    March 19, 2021 at 12:59 am

    That really seems to be something typical only to the US. Betty similar to rental car companies that quote one price, but then remember that they forgot to include almost every cost to do business imaginable, like the cost for the facility or the cost to register the cars they rent out.

  25. Bighits

    March 28, 2021 at 10:37 am

    I think they can separate the fees out so that is you want to use their wifi it’s one fee and then if you use the pool, or exercise room, or spa, etc.it should be broken down per area of use and those that decide not to use any of those so called perks then you shouldn’t be charged any resort fees at all. This is no different than just listing them on like a menu and then you check which ones you want to access and pay for that in your room charges. That way you always have the option to use them or you can completely opt out or just choose for example, the pool only, and I think people wouldn’t be so upset about the extra charges.

  26. pulokk1

    March 29, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    As long as it is clearly disclosed it’s stinky but transparent.

    We stayed in Vegas and the $50 nightly resort fee was disclosed nowhere when I booked on-line. I challenged it at checkout, where I first learned of it, even showing them my e-mailed confirmation where it was not mentioned. The check-out CSR would not budge.

    I asked to speak with the front-end manager who also would not budge. I took it to corporate on the phone and they refunded it. My next step would have been to challenge it on my credit card.

    Long story short, I would have lived with it had they disclose it at booking.

  27. SUPERTRAVEL

    April 10, 2021 at 8:59 am

    Some hotels in Canada are now adding on an Amenity Fee. So the practice is spreading, not just within the USA.

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