CALPIRG testifies in support of hotel price transparency

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On Tuesday, April 11th, our State Director Jenn Engstrom testified to the California Senate Judiciary Committee in support of legislation that would require better price transparency in hotel prices. Here is her testimony:

“Good afternoon Chair Umberg and members of the committee. My name is Jenn Engstrom and I’m the State Director of CALPIRG.  We are a statewide consumer advocacy group working to protect Californians and ensure a fair marketplace. We’re proud to support SB 683 and thank Senator Glazer for his work on this legislation. 

Consumers deserve to know what they are paying for, and how much, up front. It’s that simple. Unfortunately, many companies, including hotels, are blindsiding us with hidden fees.

More and more hotels are unbundling the cost of your stay, advertising the room price upfront and then separate, often compulsory fees at check-in for things like wifi, parking, use of the pool and health clubs, in-room safe, and the phone in your room. These additional fees, commonly called “resort fees” are often not disclosed upfront and rather charged at check-in or when you pay for your stay.

 In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission did an analysis of “resort fees” and concluded that “separating resort fees from the room rate without first disclosing the total price is unlikely to result in benefits that offset the likely harm to consumers,” which include additional time searching for a hotel’s mandatory fees or making an uninformed choice resulting in a costly hotel stay.

California consumers deserve complete pricing information to help inform our purchases.  That’s why CALPIRG supports SB 683 to require transparency of all mandatory fees associated with hotel and lodging services.

 SB 683 and the transparency it will provide consumers is critical to ensure a fair marketplace.

For all these reasons, I respectfully urge your aye vote on this important measure.”

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