Updated on Monday, September 25, 2023 and Friday, October 13, 2023 to reflect recent news coverage.
On September 20, 2023, Travelers’ United, represented by Tycko & Zavareei, filed a lawsuit challenging Hilton’s junk fee practices. A copy of the complaint is available here.
The very next day, Hilton issued a public statement promising to work “very quickly” to “ensure [that] mandatory fees are displayed upfront on all Hilton websites and apps.”
“We are glad to hear that Hilton is finally committing to hotel room pricing transparency,” said Lauren Wolfe of Travelers’ United, “but it should not have taken a lawsuit to get Hilton to address these issues.”
“Hilton has not provided any indication that it intends to refund the tens of millions of dollars in Junk Fees that it has charged Americans over the past several years,” said Wesley Griffith, one of Travelers’ attorneys, “and while we are hopeful that Hilton will follow through on its commitment to stop these practices going forward, our lawsuit also seeks to ensure that those past charges are refunded.”
September 20, 2023, Washington, D.C. — Travelers United, a consumer advocacy organization, has filed a lawsuit against Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. (Hilton) over its deceptive junk fee practices. The lawsuit, filed today, is the latest in a series of similar suits that Travelers United has filed against Hyatt and Sonesta that challenge similar junk fee practices.
“These cases stand for a simple idea that is at the core of our free market system—when you advertise something for sale, Americans are entitled to buy it for the advertised price,” said Wesley Griffith, one of Travelers’ attorneys. “Hotel junk fees violate that basic principle by forcing Americans to pay a higher price than is advertised.”
The lawsuit alleges that Hilton falsely advertised the price of its hotel rooms for years by adding on “destination,” “resort,” and other deceptive fees at the last minute that do not appear in the advertised price of the rooms. This false advertising misled consumers into believing that Hilton’s rooms were cheaper than they actually were.
Junk fee practices, such as Hilton’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 Hilton 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 believe that Hilton violated the law and are confident that a jury will agree with us at trial.”
Travelers United is seeking a permanent injunction against Hilton to prevent them from continuing to falsely advertise their room rates in D.C. and to D.C. residents. The organization is also seeking damages for consumers who have been affected by the false advertising, as well as statutory penalties and punitive damages.
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. Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., et al., Case No.: 2023-CAB-005813 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Civil Division.