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Washington, June 10, 2015The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), the sole national association representing all segments of the 1.8 million-employee lodging industry, today praised the Florida Congressional Delegation after they sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairwoman Edith Ramirez urging the agency to immediately open an investigation into companies deceptively targeting consumers with misleading online hotel websites. The letter was signed by all 27 Members of the delegation.

“When it comes to the law, it’s very clear; businesses should not be misleading consumers about who they are and what they are selling. But that is exactly what many rogue online booking sites are doing. More than 2.5 million bookings a year are deceptive, leaving consumers in the cold. Consumers are not getting what they want or pay for and dealing with everything from additional room charges, cancellation fees or service charges and accessibility problems,” said Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of AH&LA.

“We welcome the support of the leadership of the entire Florida Congressional Delegation in recognizing that we have a shared responsibility in ensuring that consumers are protected from these unscrupulous scams. We join the Florida delegation in urging the FTC to open an investigation to raise awareness about this growing problem as this body has the jurisdiction and duty to investigate these deceptive practices.”

Please read the full text of the Florida Delegation’s letter to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez below:

 

June 5, 2015

The Honorable Edith Ramirez

Chairwoman

Federal Trade Commission

600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20580

 

Dear Chairwoman Ramirez:

 

            We write to urge the Federal Trade Commission to immediately open an investigation into companies deceptively targeting consumers with fake online hotel websites. According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), thousands of consumers are misled every year into making reservations through fraudulent websites and call centers that give the appearance of being connected to a hotel, but actually have no legal relation to them. AHLA estimates that fraudulent online booking scams have cost U.S. travelers upwards of $220 million per year. These deceptive practices hurt both consumers and hotels, and we implore you to look into the issue immediately.         

 

            As a result of these illegitimate practices, AHLA has informed us that consumers may be charged additional hidden fees, lose expected loyalty points, or show up at hotels only to learn that their reservation was never made or that Americans with Disabilities Act compliant accommodations were not furnished. This especially affects the State of Florida, which is the top travel destination in the United States.

 

            As Members of Congress from Florida, we respectfully request that you investigate these deceptive acts. We look forward to working with you to educate consumers and rectify these misleading and dishonest practices. Thank you for your consideration of an issue critical to the people of Florida. 

About American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA)

Serving the hospitality industry for more than a century, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) is the sole national association representing all segments of the 1.8 million-employee U.S. lodging industry, including hotel owners, REITs, chains, franchisees, management companies, independent properties, state hotel associations, and industry suppliers. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AH&LA provides focused advocacy, communications support, and educational resources for an industry generating $155.5 billion in annual sales from 4.9 million guestrooms.

Contact: Katie Longo

klongo@ahla.com

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