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Priceline wins "resort fee" lawsuit

Priceline wins "resort fee" lawsuit

Old Mar 12, 12, 1:48 pm
  #1  
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Priceline wins "resort fee" lawsuit

Everyone who travels knows "resort fees" are slimy, but they don't get any slimier than when you bid for a hotel on priceline, win, and they get hit with the additional (and previously unknown) resort fee.

But because Priceline discloses that you MIGHT get hit by a resort fee, a California court ruled they were legal.

http://lawfuel.com/releases/good-new...-better-31174/

Not only does this practice penalize travellers, but it also penalizes hotels that try to play fair. Resort A wants to charge priceline guests $100/night. Resort B wants to charge the guests $120. Resort A has no resort fee. Resort B has a $30 fee. Resort B can accept $90 priceline bids (and then tack on $30), Resort A loses this business.

It's nuts, but it's apparently legal.
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Old Mar 12, 12, 2:44 pm
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Why did they even try to take priceline to court? Priceline never charged the "resort fee", the resort did. Priceline does a service and acts as the middleman for both the consumer and the merchant, and I don't see why they should be held responsible for the "legal" tactics of the resorts.

Otoh, the court should have at least obligated Priceline to make their disclaimer a bit more detailed. The standard warning should be replaced with something like "resorts in the area you requested charge an additional $0-20 daily for mandatory amenities, this charge will handled by the hotel during check in/out."
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Old Mar 12, 12, 3:06 pm
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This was actually an appeals court, confirming a lower court ruling, so Priceline has won twice so far

See also this thread from the past about it

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/onlin...complaint.html

That thread was referenced in a NY Times story about priceline fees as somebody being far from the first person to complain about it.

The decision in much greater detail is here

http://www.leagle.com/xmlResult.aspx...WAR3-2007-CURR

But in most cases like this, it's because nobody reads the terms and conditions. From the court

Next a caption stated "Important Information," with these signaling words prominently placed, bold-faced, and in large type. There followed five paragraphs, each separated by a space and set off by bullet points. The language of the paragraphs is readable, and none of the paragraphs have more than four sentences. The fourth paragraph stated: "The reservation holder must present a valid photo ID and credit card at check-in. The credit card is required for any additional hotel specific service fees or incidental charges or fees that may be charged by the hotel to the customer at checkout. These charges may be mandatory (e.g., resort fees) or optional (parking, phone calls or minibar charges) and are not included in your offer price." (Italics added.) This disclosure clearly stated that the offer price did not include mandatory resort fees charged by the hotel to the customer at checkout. Priceline did not represent to customers that they would pay nothing in addition to the "Total Charges." Instead it expressly stated that hotels might make additional charges, some of which might be mandatory (such as resort fees) and some of which might be optional (parking, phone calls, or minibar charges). These additional charges, Priceline specified, "are not included in your offer price," the price the consumer would pay to Priceline. Therefore the practice of excluding mandatory fees from "Total Charges" which Priceline represented to consumers was not likely to mislead consumers.
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Old Mar 12, 12, 5:51 pm
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Priceline could, if they wanted to, require hotels to include the resort fee in the bid amount. For some reason, they don't want to.

I would support a DOT regulation on this, similar to the recent one for airline price advertisements.
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Old Mar 12, 12, 7:09 pm
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Originally Posted by cbn42 View Post
Priceline could, if they wanted to, require hotels to include the resort fee in the bid amount. For some reason, they don't want to.

I would support a DOT regulation on this, similar to the recent one for airline price advertisements.
Absolutely. The idea of a mandatory "resort fee" is ridiculous to start with (compulsory fixed hotel fees should be your "room rate"), but the idea that a hotel should be able to add an unknown amount to a winning bid is beyond absurd. There is no plausible business justification for Priceline not requiring hotels to include the fees in their acceptable price except a desire to sell more resort rooms by accepting "lower" deceptive prices. As I mentioned before, this policies penalizes "good" hotels who do the right thing and simply include required fees in their room rates.

I'm sure if priceline's name your own price was a bigger operation, the gov't would act. They're just lucky this deceptive practice squeaks by under the radar. Apparently, they have no shame.
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Old Apr 5, 12, 5:28 pm
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If anyone wants to read the actual court decision, it's here: http://bit.ly/Hqjdmc



Originally Posted by iahphx View Post
Everyone who travels knows "resort fees" are slimy, but they don't get any slimier than when you bid for a hotel on priceline, win, and they get hit with the additional (and previously unknown) resort fee.

But because Priceline discloses that you MIGHT get hit by a resort fee, a California court ruled they were legal.

http://lawfuel.com/releases/good-new...-better-31174/

Not only does this practice penalize travellers, but it also penalizes hotels that try to play fair. Resort A wants to charge priceline guests $100/night. Resort B wants to charge the guests $120. Resort A has no resort fee. Resort B has a $30 fee. Resort B can accept $90 priceline bids (and then tack on $30), Resort A loses this business.

It's nuts, but it's apparently legal.
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Old Apr 5, 12, 6:26 pm
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Originally Posted by cbn42 View Post
Priceline could, if they wanted to, require hotels to include the resort fee in the bid amount. For some reason, they don't want to.

I would support a DOT regulation on this, similar to the recent one for airline price advertisements.
Hotels would love it if DOT promulgated rules. DOT has no jurisdiction over them !
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Old Apr 5, 12, 6:30 pm
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A great thread for all those who post the "sue the b**tard*" recommendation for every situation and then go on to tell you what they would like to be but is not.

This lawsuit was doomed because P/Line's terms could not be more clear. And, the hotels would be off the hook if they were defendants because their terms are likely clear as well.

Now, you may not like it, but that's a different story, a different thread and a different argument.

So, buyer beware. Either spend the time to read the t&c and do the research or be prepared.
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Old Apr 5, 12, 6:33 pm
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What's next? A hotel room rate of $1 and a resort fee of $99?
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Old Apr 5, 12, 8:28 pm
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Priceline is upfront about the resort fees but what would be nice if they would include the parking fees. I've been burned at the Marriott Coconut Grove Courtyard in MIA with a $15 ppn mandatory valet fee.
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Old Apr 5, 12, 11:19 pm
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Probably doesn't matter a whit.. but

This is exactly why I will never use Priceline again. When they started letting hotels use resort fees, parking fees, and then let them adopt the heinous practice of assigning substandard rooms to priceline 'winners', I stopped using them altogether. Thousands and thousands of dollars a year... I quit them completely.

Substandard rooms? many hotels are now reserving their unrenovated rooms for these special winners.
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Old Apr 6, 12, 5:18 am
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I have used Priceline for hundreds of room nights over the years, and can honestly say that I have never received a "substandard" room. On a few occasions, I have gotten a room near the elevator or ice area (which I hate) and I simply went down and asked if I could get another room. Has never been an issue.

Only once did I get a room that was potentially substandard... but I had booked the room that afternoon and the hotel was pretty booked.... so they could not move me the first night... but did for the next three nights.

When I consider how much I have saved over the years, I am willing to take a risk that I may get a less than perfect room.

I personally do not believe there are "many" hotels that reserve their bad rooms for Priceline winners... but I am sure some do. And, honestly, I am not sure there is anything wrong with that. As long as they have complied with what I bid, I am getting what was promised.
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Old Apr 6, 12, 5:21 am
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Originally Posted by wharvey View Post
I personally do not believe there are "many" hotels that reserve their bad rooms for Priceline winners... but I am sure some do. And, honestly, I am not sure there is anything wrong with that. As long as they have complied with what I bid, I am getting what was promised.
I feel the same way - as long as the hotel is offering me what it should be offering me for the quality level I bid, I don't care if it's a newly refurbished room or not. Obviously if it's run down, dirty, or otherwise unusable, I will make a stink.
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Old Apr 6, 12, 6:56 am
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I usually book a room via Priceline if I absolutely do not care which hotel I get (only book 4*+) AND I know that I will get a hotel in a particular area of town.
Priceline areas that encompass entire cities (like in Europe) are a no no.
That said, many times you can get very good discount or promo rates on Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, etc. by booking in advance.
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Old Apr 6, 12, 8:35 am
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Originally Posted by wharvey View Post
I personally do not believe there are "many" hotels that reserve their bad rooms for Priceline winners... but I am sure some do. And, honestly, I am not sure there is anything wrong with that. As long as they have complied with what I bid, I am getting what was promised.
I would have to concede that most likely that you right on the 'many' part. But I had two back to back instances where particular, unrenovated wings of hotels were reserved for priceline winners.

The first was the Sheraton Keahou in Kona. Manager even told me a particular unrenovated wing was reserved for winners like me. WOW. And you should have seen the rooms. Billed as a resort? Run down 2 star was more like it. Charged resort fee and parking, too. Sagging beds, stained carpet and bedspread, toilet from the seventies, like you see in a truck stop, bad ancient TV and broken A/C. Oh, and too, they offered to upgrade me to a renovated room at check-in. Insulting.

I know there are different classes of rooms in a hotel. I get that. But this was blatant misrepresentation, imho. Priceline continued to allow them to sell these rooms as resort rate at a price that should have been half that. I get screwed and so do the other hotels in that area that are playing above board.

And I blame Priceline. They are the ones that 'sold' me that room. If it ain't right they should either make it right or discontinue business with like hotels.

And even though I know what happened to me won't happen often, it is now a matter of principle. I won't go back.
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