ASTA submitted comments to the Federal Trade Commission on hidden and deceptive fees.
Alexandria, VA, February 8, 2024 – The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) submitted comments to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) earlier this week in support of a proposed rulemaking which would prohibit unfair and deceptive practices related to “junk fees” - hidden or deceptive fees that can harm consumers and undermine honest businesses.
While charging mandatory resort fees has come under greater scrutiny in recent years, up until now predominantly by regulators and enforcement agencies at the state level, the practice remains common in the industry. As an advocate for not only travel agencies and individual advisors but also the millions of consumers who rely on our members’ services, ASTA believes that the rule as proposed would greatly benefit consumers of hotel and other short-term lodging services.
The proposed rule would also prohibit misrepresentations regarding the nature and purpose of any mandatory fees, whether using vague descriptions or other tactics. ASTA shares the FTC’s view that due to such practices, consumers frequently do not know or understand fully what the fees are for, why they are mandatory, or why they are being assessed by the seller. This is a problem altogether distinct from the failure to disclose the charge upfront to the agency and consumer during the booking process.
ASTA has long supported efforts to increase transparency in travel pricing, including the U.S. Department of Transportation’s full-fare advertising rule and FTC’s efforts to increase hotel pricing transparency. We believe hidden hotel resort fees violate this principle of transparency, and that public sentiment is with us on this issue. As such, we support any initiatives that aim to ensure consumers are shown the full pre-tax price of a hotel room while searching and comparing lodging options for their next trip – hopefully with the assistance of an ASTA Verified Travel Advisor.
Read the full submission to the FTC here.
ABOUT THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF TRAVEL ADVISORS (ASTA): Rebranded in 2018 as the American Society of Travel Advisors, ASTA is the leading global advocate for travel advisors, the travel industry and the traveling public. Its members represent 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States through the travel agency distribution channel. Together with hundreds of internationally based members, ASTA’s history of industry advocacy traces back to its founding in 1931 when it launched with the mission to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. For more information about the Society, visit our mission statement.