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Travel deals turn into actual steals: lawsuit

Hyatt Hotels

Hyatt Hotels Corp. is facing a lawsuit over its alleged practice of advertising low prices but then adding on surprise “junk fees” at check-in, when consumers — likely jetlagged, travel-weary and exhausted — are more likely to pay such “resort” and “destination fees,” despite feeling bamboozled by the large hotel chain.  

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in the District of Columbia Superior Court by the consumer advocacy group Travelers United Inc., accuses the hotel chain of “systemically cheating consumers out of tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars each year by falsely advertising its hotel room rates” since “at least 2020.”

The lawsuit is the latest over junk fees, defined by the Federal Trade Commission as “unfair or deceptive fees that are charged for goods or services that have little or no added value to the consumer” or fees that are “hidden,” such as those disclosed only at a later stage in the consumer’s purchasing process or not at all.

The lawsuit points out that such hidden fees “have recently been the subject of national media attention, including during President Biden’s 2023 State of the Union Address.”

Hyatt has not responded to media requests for comment.