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Appeals court rules for Priceline

By Michael P. Tremoglie | Feb 27, 2012

LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) -- A California court has ruled for Priceline in a case regarding "resort fees."

The California Court of Appeals ruled Feb. 22 in favor of Priceline.com in a suit brought against it by a customer who claimed that Priceline violated their contract by not adding "resort fees" to the quoted price.

The plaintiffs reserved hotel rooms for a price quoted by Priceline There was a per-night "resort fee" added to the quote Priceline.com had provided. The plaintiffs sued for breach of contract, violation of the Unfair Competition Law.

The plaintiffs stated that the price quoted to them was not the actual price since it did not include the resort fee. They alleged that since Priceline advertises that they can get the lowest price for their customer this was deceptive because the fees of the hotel partners were "hidden."

Priceline responded that their offer clearly states that there may be other fees included. Therefore the price quoted was not a misrepresentation.

The trial court found in favor of Priceline. The appeals court affirmed the judgment of the trial court. It said, "The main issue in this appeal is whether Priceline's quotation of a price for "total charges" misrepresented the amount each plaintiff would pay for their hotel room by failing to include the resort fees charged by the hotels.

"We find that Priceline clearly disclosed that resort fees charged by hotels were not included in the "total charges" quoted by Priceline to each plaintiff, and therefore the "total charges" for room reservations plaintiffs made through Priceline.com was not a misrepresentation. We affirm the judgment for defendant Priceline."

The appeals court noted, "By clicking on hyperlinks for "charges" and for "taxes and services fees," the customer can open a second electronic document stating: "Depending on the property you stay at, you may also be charged (i) certain per person, per room or percentage based mandatory hotel specific service fees, for example, resort fees (which typically [apply] to resort type destinations and, if applicable, may range from $10 to $40 per day), energy surcharges, newspaper delivery fees, in-room safe fees, tourism fees, or housekeeping fees and/or (ii) certain optional incidental fees, for example, parking charges, minibar charges, phone calls, room service and movie rentals, etc. These charges, if applicable, will be payable by you to the hotel directly at checkout and are not included in your offer price. Please contact the hotel directly as to whether and which charges and service fees apply."

It further stated, "This disclosure clearly stated that the offer price did not include mandatory resort fees charged by the hotel to the customer at checkout. Priceline did not represent to customers that they would pay nothing in addition to the "Total Charges." Instead it expressly stated that hotels might make additional charges, some of which might be mandatory (such as resort fees) and some of which might be optional (parking, phone calls, or minibar charges)."

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