Hilton Sued for Fraud by Nebraska Attorney General
When your grandma says you can only take one cookie, you should probably do what she says. And while you could take a second one and it’ll feel good to eat it in that moment, you probably won’t like the consequences to come.
As reported by 1011 NOW, Hilton is being sued by Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, for hiding resort fees and masking the true cost consumers are paying to increase profits.
Resort fees, especially ones that aren’t unveiled until later, are of great frustration to consumers that look for a good hotel within their price range, but only find out it’s too much after they’ve finished their stay.
While they can be used to pay for amenities like toiletries or hotel upkeep, what exactly the fees go to is usually left ambiguous and at any given moment, a hotelier can attribute the funds to nothing, simply calling it a profit to keep for themselves or giving themselves a “cosmetic boost” in an upcoming financial review.
Where Hilton made their mistake in this case is that Hilton neither disclosed their resort fees on their website or upfront at their hotels.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also warned the hotel industry as to how resort fees misrepresent room prices and violates consumers’ rights; Hilton, a multinational company, was very aware of this warning, which raises suspicions of intentional fraud.
Now fraudulent misrepresentation is one of the most claimed business torts in personal injury.
And while there are many elements for an attorney to prove in a fraudulent misrepresentation case, what is already proven is that damage was made to the plaintiff (Nebraska consumers) and that the false representation had been made simply on the account that the plaintiff was charged more than what was advertised.
Even better, as fraud claims need to be proven with evidence that express “beyond a reasonable doubt” that fraud was committed. One simply needs to compare receipts or bank statements to the prices advertised on the website.
The sought outcome of the case is to force Hilton to advertise the true cost up front and provide monetary relief to Nebraska citizens while paying civil penalties. Such a decision, if made, is likely to set a foundation upon which other AG’s can try to demand transparency of prices in their respective states.