By Cailey Rizzo
September 27, 2019
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Congress is considering legislation that could once and for all ban hidden resort fees at hotels.

The Hotel Advertising Transparency Act of 2019 is a bipartisan bill introduced by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) on Wednesday that aims to establish clear advertised pricing of hotel rooms.

The act would prohibit not only resort fees but cleaning fees, facility fees, and any other fees that are only introduced to customers when they’re advanced in the booking process. The proposed legislation refers to the hidden prices as “unfair and deceptive to consumers.” The advertised price must include all required fees, other than government-required taxes.

“It is projected that in 2019, over three billion dollars in revenue alone will be collected from consumers due to these hidden fees,” Congresswoman Johnson said in a statement. “This bill would require that the prices advertised by hotels and online travel agencies must include all mandatory fees that will be charged to a consumer, excluding taxes." The bill will also give the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) power to enforce the rule.

Resort fees have reemerged as a present issue this year. In July, attorneys general in both Washington D.C. and Nebraska filed lawsuits against Marriott and Hilton “for hiding the true price of hotel rooms from consumers and charging hidden resort fees to increase profits,” according to the bill.

The bill’s process through Congress will begin with the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee. It would then go to a vote in the House of Representatives, a vote in the Senate, and would then require a signature from the President in order to become law. It is unclear how long this process will take or if it will be seen through to completion.

This is the first act against mandatory hidden fees raised in Congress since 2016. That bill (the Truth in Hotel Advertising Act of 2016) was introduced in the Senate but did not make it any further.

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