August 24, 2023. Travelers United, a consumer advocacy organization, has filed a lawsuit against Sonesta Hotels over its deceptive junk fee practices. The lawsuit, filed on Thursday, is the latest in a series of similar suits that Travelers United has filed against MGM and Hyatt.
The lawsuit alleges that Sonesta Hotels falsely advertised the price of its hotel rooms for years by adding on “destination,” “resort,” and other deceptive fees that did not appear in the advertised price of the rooms. This false advertising misled consumers into believing that Sonesta’s rooms were cheaper than they actually were.
“Sonesta Hotels is frequently identified as one of the fastest growing hotel conglomerates in the post-COVID era, making this lawsuit to end their junk fee practices particularly important,” said Wesley Griffith, one of Travelers United’s attorneys with the law firm of Tycko & Zavareei. Sonesta is scheduled to open a new 274 room hotel in the District on September 1, 2023.
Junk fee practices, like Sonesta’s, exceed two billion dollars annually in the hotel industry.
“Junk fees are not just greedy and deceptive. They are illegal,” said Lauren Wolfe, Travelers United’s Chief Legal Officer.
“This lawsuit will show that hotels violate the law when they charge resort fees without including them in the advertised price. American consumers are sick and tired of corporations taking advantage of them with relentless junk fees. Travelers United hopes this lawsuit permanently ends this deceptive practice, and holds Sonesta Hotels accountable for their false advertising,” Ms. Wolfe stated.
Peter Silva, another of Travelers’ attorneys, continued, “Hidden junk fees violate a bedrock principle of our economy: fair competition on a level playing field. Consumers are denied the ability to make an informed choice based on the price. And competitors are forced to choose between following the law, or losing customers based on inaccurate price advertisements. We allege Sonesta violated the law.”
Travelers United is seeking a permanent injunction against Sonesta Hotels to prevent them from continuing their deceptive junk fee practices. The organization is also seeking damages for consumers who have been affected by the false advertising.
Travelers United is a 501(c)3 non-profit consumer protection organization that advocates for American travelers and has long fought against junk fees in the hospitality industry. Travelers United is represented in the suit by Hassan Zavareei, Peter Silva, Wesley Griffith, and Leora Friedman of the public interest firm Tycko & Zavareei LLP, which frequently represents consumers seeking justice through class actions.
The case is Travelers United, Inc. v. Sonesta International Hotels Corporation, et al., case no.: 2023-CAB-005254 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Civil Division.