TALLAHASSEE – LAWFUEL – Press release service – Attorney Gen…

TALLAHASSEE – LAWFUEL – Press release service – Attorney General Charlie Crist today announced that his office has reached a $2.3-million dollar settlement over undisclosed automatic surcharges improperly imposed at hotels run by Wyndham International, Inc. The most significant feature of this settlement is that LXR, which purchased the Wyndham chain last August, will implement business practices nationwide, as described in the settlement, even though Crist’s office sued over practices at four Florida hotels. The settlement provides for consumer restitution and requires that the hotels change this business practice.

The Attorney General’s investigation into the Wyndham hotels focused on adding charges to guest bills without properly disclosing the charges.
The investigation began in 2001 when automatic hotel charges, such as resort fees, resort tariffs, energy surcharges and parking/transportation fees appeared on several state employee travel vouchers.

“Customers have a right to know what they are buying,” said Crist.
“This settlement provides hotel guests with the opportunity to make an informed choice before they reserve a room.”

LXR is a subdivision of the Blackstone Group, which now owns or manages numerous hotels in Florida and nationwide. The settlement requires LXR to fully disclose any automatic hotel charges to guests when hotel rates are being quoted and reservations are made. The settlement also requires independent third parties that promote or sell hotel rooms on Wyndham’s behalf, such as Orbitz or Travelocity, to disclose the automatic hotel charges to consumers at the time of reservation. If a third party does not disclose the charges, LXR must cease doing business with that party. There are 38 hotels in Florida that will be affected by the settlement.

Under the agreement, LXR will pay $560,000 to affected consumers who unknowingly had to pay the automatic charges. Any money remaining after consumer restitution has been made will be given to the Florida Hurricane Relief Fund. A reimbursement process will be developed and announced at a later date. The company must also reimburse Florida taxpayers $1.8 million to cover the costs of the state’s five-year investigation and four-year litigation process.

A list of the affected Florida hotels is available at:
http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/KGRG-6S8QWP/$file/Wyndham_Hotel_List.pdf

A copy of the Wyndham settlement is available at:
http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/KGRG-6S8QXF/$file/Wyndham_Settlement.pdf

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