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Berman to Crack Down on Surprise Hotel Fees

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO - Today Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) announced the introduction of AB 537, which cracks down on hidden fees – what President Biden termed “junk fees” in his State of the Union speech last week - and requires that mandatory hotel and resort fees be disclosed in the advertised room rate.

“President Biden is right – Californians are tired of being played for suckers,” said Assemblymember Berman. “Surprise hotel fees are dishonest and misleading. You go to a website, enter the dates of your stay, pick a room for a certain price, enter your personal information, and then at the last minute the hotel or travel website tacks on resort or cleaning fees. We’ve all experienced it, and I’m tired of it. AB 537 will ensure that the advertised cost of your hotel stay is the real price you pay.”

“The other day I saw a hotel that tacked on a ‘destination fee’ at the very end of the booking process,” Berman added. “It’s a hotel! Being a destination isn’t a special add-on, it’s literally the essence of a hotel. How does that warrant a special hidden fee? Put that in the up-front price of the stay.”

"The Consumer Federation of California is proud to sponsor AB 537 and thank Assemblymember Berman for taking the lead on this basic pocketbook issue," said Robert Herrell, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of California. "Resort fees are becoming more common, more expensive, and more troublesome by the day.  Many companies manipulate consumers and their internet searches into thinking they're getting a better deal than they really are.  That's why states and jurisdictions like Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. have taken bipartisan legal actions against these often-times hidden fees. Consumers should know what they're getting and the complete price from the moment they start looking.  That's just common sense and basic consumer protection."

Over the last few years, deceptive advertising in the short-term lodging industry has significantly increased, with many hotels, motels, and other short-term lodging establishments not disclosing mandatory fees in advance. Some hotels charge separate mandatory “resort fees” or “cleaning fees”, but fail to disclose them until later in the booking process (once most consumers have committed to the property) or at “checkout”. According to an analysis by the Los Angeles Times, at least one thousand of the 40,000 Airbnb listings included in the study charged a cleaning fee that was only $10 less than the nightly rate. The study also found that 83% of short-term rentals in Los Angeles charged a cleaning fee which typically ranged from $5 to $1,500, with one fee as much as $2,500. Furthermore, this report showed that in 2018, across the U.S., hotels generated approximately $3 billion in mandatory hotel fees, an 8.5% increase compared to 2017.