The Office of the Attorney General of Texas (“OAG”) filed a lawsuit against Booking Holdings Inc. (“Booking”), a major travel reservation company, for engaging in false, misleading, or deceptive acts and practices in violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Booking falsely marketed hotel rooms at prices that were not available to the public as initially advertised.
Across its sites, Booking omitted mandatory fees from its initially advertised room rates, enticing consumers with artificially low room prices that were not available to them. In many cases, Booking also misled consumers by grouping and obscuring the mandatory fees with funds owed to the government as a component of the “Taxes and Fees” line item at checkout. Further, Booking’s actions put its honest competitors, who transparently display up-front the total price, at a disadvantage, causing many of them to lose customers to Booking. Booking, a Delaware for-profit corporation headquartered in Connecticut, operates nationwide under websites such as Booking.com, Priceline.com, and Kayak.com.
The lawsuit states: “For years, Booking has duped unsuspecting Texans who shop for room rates on its various websites by omitting mandatory fees from the advertised room rate. Booking’s failure to include these mandatory fees in its initial advertisement of room rates thwarts comparison shopping and, consequently, allows Booking to lure unwitting consumers with artificially low room prices that are unavailable at the rates advertised.”
The OAG has filed lawsuits this year against hotel companies deceiving customers about the price of rooms through obscured fees and falsely marketed prices. In January, Attorney General Ken Paxton warned the industry that continued exploitative behavior would be challenged by the State of Texas. In recent months, the OAG sued Hilton and Hyatt, while settlements were reached with Marriott and OMNI.
To read the full lawsuit against Booking, click here.