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Third hotel chain settles with Colorado over ‘misrepresented’ pricing

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(The Center Square) – A third hotel chain has settled with Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser’s office over “misrepresented” rates and fees for lodging.

Attorneys for Marriott International Inc., which operates 169 hotels in Colorado under the brands of Westin, Courtyard, Fairfield, Residence Inn SpringHill Suites and others, signed a 20-page “assurance of discontinuance” with the state. Previously, Weiser reached settlements with Omni Hotels last November and Choice Hotel International Inc. last September.

“When consumers are trying to book a hotel, it should be easy to see the full price without having to jump through hoops or face sticker shock at checkout,” Weiser said in a statement. “Too many companies have, however, used deceptive or ‘junk’ fees to cheat consumers. By requiring Marriott to be more transparent about their pricing, we’re making life a little easier for consumers.”

The agreement requires Marriott to “not engage in any unlawful, unfair, and/or deceptive trade practices in violation of the consumer protection law with respect to the advertising or offers of room rates, mandatory fees, or total price,” according to the document. The agreement covers any misrepresentation in connection with advertising of room rates, fees and total prices.

“In any advertisement or offer for lodging at affiliated hotels that includes a room rate that is created by or disseminated by Marriott, Marriott shall clearly and conspicuously disclose all mandatory fees and the total price,” according to the settlement. “Additionally, in any written or electronic advertisement or offer that includes a room rate that is created or disseminated by Marriott, the total price shall be the most prominently displayed price.”

The company agreed to make any search results sortable by price to display the total price of the room. Marriott also agreed to clearly provide information on all goods and services covered under mandatory fees.

Marriott will train staff to comply with the agreement along with third parties operating hotels. Marriott must take action if third-party operators don’t comply, according to the settlement.

“If Marriott learns that any operator, licensee, franchisee, or owner of its affiliated hotels is violating a requirement … Marriott shall take appropriate action in its sole discretion against such operator, licensee, franchisee, or owner,” according to the settlement. “Appropriate action shall be determined by the nature and circumstances of the violation, including, but not limited to, the pattern and/or severity of the conduct, and any corrective action taken by the operator, licensee, franchisee, or owner.”

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