Sen. Claire McCaskill Introduces Bill to Prohibit Hidden Resort Fees
PHOTO: Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill is calling for an end to hidden resort fees. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Senate)
Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill is targeting hidden resort fees in wake of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairwoman Edith Ramirez's calls for Congressional action.
On Thursday, the Democrat introduced a bill that would prohibit hotels from charging guests hidden fees by requiring hotels to include the full cost in the advertised room rate.
McCaskill said the goal is to eliminate the potential for consumers to be deceived.
"I don’t think it’s any of the government’s business what they charge for the rooms," McCaskill told USA Today. "But I want the consumers to know how much they are getting charged for their rooms."
In July 2015, McCaskill began requesting travelers to share their personal stories involving deceptive fees and urged the FTC to take action.
READ MORE: Resort Fees: Who Benefits, Who Suffers?
The legislation proposed by McCaskill Thursday would grant the FTC the authority to enforce the prohibition of advertising a hotel room rate that doesn't include required fees. If approved, state attorneys general would also have authority to enforce the prohibition by way of a civil action in federal court.
Recent research from non-profit consumers group Travelers United found that American consumers spent more than $2 billion in mandatory resort fees last year, a 35 percent increase from 2014.
However the American Hotel & Lodging Association, which points out that the mandatory fees pay for a wide range of hotel amenities including pool use, gym access and Wi-Fi service, among others, maintains that hotels are always transparent.
Nonetheless, McCaskill called it a "trend of nickel and diming consumers to death," per USA Today.
A majority of consumers are likely to agree with her, as a survey commissioned by Travelers United last summer found that 80 percent of American consumers believe hotels should be required to include all mandatory fees in the advertised nightly room rate.
In addition to consumers, hidden resort fees can negatively impact travel agents, who are unlikely to receive commission on the fees as a majority go directly to the hotel owner.
Therefore, if McCaskill's legislation is ultimately passed, consumers and travel agents alike stand to benefit.
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