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Priceline's Hidden Hilton Fees Prompt Class Action

Planning a trip can be stressful, but the ability of consumers to research and book hotels online helps to streamline the process and allows budget-conscious consumers to compare hotel prices. However, this system relies on the accuracy of the information presented by booking websites. An ongoing punitive class-action lawsuit against both The Priceline Group Inc. ("Priceline") and Hilton Worldwide Inc. ("Hilton") claims that travelers who book through Priceline are faced with extra fees in addition to the listed price for Hilton and other hotels.

Priceline, known for its "Name Your Own Price" feature, matches guests with hotels based on what guests are willing to pay. However, the lead plaintiff in the instant case, Adam Singer ("Singer"), argues that this feature is deceptive and illegal, as the final prices paid by guests at various hotels differ substantially from the prices quoted by Priceline. Rather than paying the price presented by Priceline, guests find themselves faced with hidden mandatory resort fees.

Additional fees can be a significant factor for guests in choosing between hotels, so the failure of Priceline to include these mandatory fees in the prices presented through its "Name Your Own Price" feature has to potential to be severely detrimental to travelers who use Priceline with the expectation of taking advantage of the cheap prices listed by the service.

Singer used the "Name Your Own Price" feature to match with a hotel at the price listed in addition to taxes and fees of $60.68, but, upon checking out, was charged an additional $66.00 in mandatory resort fees not included in the total presented by Priceline. Singer claims that this practice is deceptive, making prices appear more attractive than they really are.

Singer also finds fault with Hilton, claiming it benefit from guests unaware of the mandatory fees who might otherwise select another hotel. By charging a resort fee, Hilton effectively obtains greater payment from guests while presenting rooms at a lower rate. In addition to the damages incurred by guests, this practice could potentially adversely impact competitors making honest price representations.

Priceline has defended this practice in the past, stating that it informs guests of additional fees after the hotel is selected, giving the customer an opportunity to back out. However, many guests complain that these additional fees are buried among standard fees and are not readily visible or apparent.

The legal team at SFMS has significant experience litigating consumer class actions. If you have any questions regarding this subject or this posting, please contact Valerie Chang ([email protected]) or Alec Berin ([email protected]). We can also be reached toll-free at (866) 540-5505.

Shepherd Finkelman Miller & Shah, LLP is a law firm with offices in California, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. SFMS also maintains an affiliate office in London, England, and is an active member of Integrated Advisory Group (www.iaginternational.org), which provides us with the ability to provide our clients with access to excellent legal and accounting resources throughout the globe. For more information about our firm, please visit us at www.sfmslaw.com.

Sources:

1. http://www.law360.com/articles/680686/priceline-hides-hilton-fees-from-room-bidders-suit-says-

2. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/new-travel-rip-off-hidden-hotel-fees/ 

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