A class action has just been authorized against 13 online accommodation booking sites that would have added fees to the initial price shown when renting a room or private property, without clearly notifying their clients.
The action is led by the firm Trudel Johnston & Lespérance, in collaboration with Grenier Verbauwhede Avocats, on behalf of consumers who have booked, from Quebec, accommodation on the sites in question and who have paid a higher price than initially announced, excluding taxes. .
Location touch sites are Priceline, Hotwire, Homeaway (Vrbo service), Accor, Bedandbreakfast.com, Canadastays (Vrbo service), Hilton Worldwide Holding, Six Continents Hotels, Orbitz Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Wyndham Hotel Group, Kayak Europe et Benjamin & Brothers (reservations.com site).
The plaintiffs’ lawyers allege that these sites “systematically and knowingly violate the Consumer Protection Law (LPC) by advertising on their websites prices that are itemized and lower” than the total amount that will be charged to the client. They add that article 224 of the LPC “prohibits merchants from demanding a price higher than that advertised for a good or service” and that the advertised price must include all costs, with the exception of the sale.
It is this very item that is mentioned in the class action lawsuit against 157 car dealers accused of adding costs to their final bills.
The class action application provides several examples of transactions made on the various booking sites, showing that fees added at the end of the process can increase the bill by 24, 30 or even 95%, without a detailed explanation. Costs are presented rather broadly, such as “Resort Fee Payable at Hotel”, “Additional Guest Fee”, “Reservation Fee”, “Resident Fee”, “Daily Destination Fee” or “Location Fee”. hotel”.
Consumer representative Chafik Mihoubi, a real estate broker in the Laval region, is among those who paid a higher price than the advertised price when booking on the Priceline site. With this appeal he wants to put an end to “this scourge” in the accommodation sector. It also asks for compensation equal to the amount that exceeds the advertised price and the imposition of punitive damages.
The Vrbo.com and Orbitz sites have already changed the way they display the price of their rentals. They may still have to pay punitive damages.
The sites Expedia.ca, Hotels.com and Travelscape.ca are not part of the class action lawsuit as there is a lawsuit pending against them. A class action lawsuit was authorized in 2019 on behalf of Quebec consumers who had to pay hotel fees in addition to the full price of their room reservation, since January 2015. The case is due to be heard between June 6 and June 16, 2023 at the Montreal courthouse. The file is in the hands of the law firm Kugler Kandestin.
At this time, it is not known how many people are affected by the class action lawsuit against the 13 booking sites and it is too early to sign up. However, you can register with the Trudel Johnston & Lespérance cabinet to stay informed of developments.
>> Read also: Collective actions, how do they work?
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