“Is Priceline a scam?”

When David Rasmussen made a nonrefundable “name your own price” reservation through Priceline, he was in for a series of unfortunate surprises.

First, the hotel he was assigned, the Hawthorn Suites By Wyndham Omaha / Old Mill, wasn’t going to honor the $48 per night rate he’d bid. Instead, it would add taxes and fees, bringing his nightly rate to $61.

Ah, hotel taxes.

(That’s perfectly legal, by the way.)

“Then I discovered the pet fee,” he says. “$50 per night.”

Rasmussen had been led to believe the property was pet friendly. And it was — as long as he was willing to pay more than twice the room rate.

He initiated a “live” chat with a Priceline representative named “Ray,” who told him he should have read Priceline’s disclosures, before disconnecting.

“Why doesn’t Priceline disclose the total of room charges, taxes and potential fees based upon which boxes you check, prior to asking you to accept the deal?” he asks. “Or, is Priceline a scam?”

Is Priceline a scam? That’s not the first time I’ve heard that question, but I haven’t heard it in a long time.

This was definitely an extreme case: A $48 bid that turned into $61, thanks to Omaha’s hotel taxes. And then a $50 per night “pet fee” — also an unusually high number.

I can’t blame Rasmussen for thinking this is a scam.

I asked Priceline to explain.

Displaying a hotel’s room rate is standard practice across the industry, and allows us to provide consumers with an “apples to apples” comparison with what they’re seeing elsewhere.

When a hotel lets us know that it has a set “extra” fee for certain services, and provides that computerized information in a way that we can decipher, we will share that information as well.

If the fee is variable depending on the guest’s needs or usage, or if we’re uncertain that fees will apply, we let guests know that fees may apply. Again, all before the booking is finalized.

That’s an interesting perspective. Certainly, people want to compare “apples” to “apples” — but they’re interested in the final price and couldn’t be bothered with taxes. It would be more true to say online agencies have an interest in quoting a low, pre-tax rate, because it makes their products look less expensive.

Priceline says that for Rasmussen’s booking there was no pet fee included in the listing, but “pet friendly” was clearly called out as one of the hotel’s major features.

“Our customer service team contacted the hotel, and the manager graciously agreed to refund,” says the representative.

But back to the question: Is Priceline a “scam?”

If by “scam” you mean is Priceline doing something illegal, the answer is obviously “no.”

But if by “scam” you mean it’s withholding certain facts, like taxes and fees, until you’re too far into the booking decision to turn back — and, incidentally, this is exactly the kind of freedom the airline industry wants — then the answer is: perhaps.

The technology exists to let consumers know exactly what they’ll pay right up front. Companies that refuse to do it, citing industry standards, are only doing themselves a favor.

Rasmussen rebooked at the Motel 6 in Omaha. The pet fee there is a far more reasonable $10 per night. “My wife is happy that the dog can come along,” he says.

Does Priceline intentionally withhold certain facts, like taxes and fees, until you're too far into the booking decision to turn back?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

  • Sherry

    I think if you have special needs (pet-friendly room, handicapped accessible room, etc.) then Priceline is not where you need to look to book your hotel room. I’m glad that the OP was able to get a refund, and I sympathize with his frustration at the cost of his room doubling, but that is the risk you take when booking with an opaque site.

  • LFH0

    I don’t think Priceline is much worse than other sites, including hotel sites themselves. I think the question is more industry-wide. As to the industry-wide question, I believe that advertised prices should include all mandatory charges and fees of the hotel. I am indifferent as to whether taxes (not “tax recovery fees” set by the hotels themselves) should be included in the price. Truly optional fees (including fees for pets and for parking) should not be included in the price, though they should be disclosed before committing to a booking.

  • LFH0

    Generally, I think that’s right. However, I will take issue as to rooms accessible to people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 require that public accommodations not treat people with disabilities differently. People with disabilities ought to have the right to the same rates as others, and not have to pay a higher rate (or be denied service) on the basis of their disability.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Here is a sample 2-night, $50/nt bid on priceline.. I don’t see what’s confusing about the taxes.

    Number of Rooms: 1

    Guaranteed Amenities: Pets Allowed, Restaurant, Free Parking, Free Internet, Business Center, Guest Score 8/10 or Higher

    Number of Nights: 2

    Offer Price Per Room, Per Night: US$ 50.00

    Subtotal: US$ 100.00

    Taxes and Service Fees: US$ 22.64

    Total Charges*: US$ 122.64

    I have never been to a hotel that accepts pets without a fee. In my personal experience pets allowed means that you have the option of bringing your pet. Not that pets are included in the rate.

    Honestly, I don’t think the LW has any grounds to be upset.

  • Sherry

    I agree that disabled people should not be forced to pay more for a room, but, if I needed specific accommodations for a disability (bathroom with room for wheelchair, tub instead of shower, first floor if no elevator, etc), I would not rely on Priceline to meet my needs. It’s all well and good to argue for fairness, but if you show up to a fully booked hotel expecting an accessible room when that wasn’t what you booked via Priceline, then you’re in for a major headache. If my needs are specific, I’m booking directly with the hotel.

  • Sherry

    We don’t have pets, so we’ve never confronted this issue. We actually stay at “no pets allowed” hotels due to my son’s allergies; however, a quick search found a site dedicated to pet-friendly hotels like La Quinta and Kimpton that appear to not charge any additional fees. Still, it appears more places charge fees than not.

  • backprop

    I just went through this the other day as well.

    “First, the hotel he was assigned, the Hawthorn Suites By Wyndham Omaha /
    Old Mill, wasn’t going to honor the $48 per night rate he’d bid.
    Instead, it would add taxes and fees, bringing his nightly rate to $61.”

    This is total nonsense!

    The taxes and fees are displayed down to the penny before you put in any payment information, and it could not be any clearer that they’re added to your bid price.

    Pet fees are a different matter (not that I’d agree; it’s just a separate matter), but based on the OP’s dishonesty when complaining about the taxes, I don’t believe the case in any way discredits Priceline. Juxtaposing its name with “scam” is just dragging it through the mud.

  • Meghan Guilford

    Red Roof Inns allow pets, usually free of charge. Country Inn and Suites do too. A lot of times though when traveling with a pet they will place you in a smoking room, so you need to do your research.

    I agree that I wouldn’t rely on Priceline to get me a discounted room that allows a pet. I would do my research

  • $16635417

    I’ve used Priceline’s opaque method literally hundreds of times and NEVER was hit for taxes and fees beyond the booking stage.

    Are there government taxes and fees? Yes, of course. But the $48 bid turns into $61 DURING the booking process, not after paying. If you do not want to pay that, adjust your bid lower and see where that gets you. Just like when I buy tires I never end up paying the advertised price, the tire guy’s calculator gets a workout with tax, mounting fees, disposal fees etc…but I DO know the total before handing over my credit card.

    Resort fees are a different story. (I highly doubt a Hawthorn Suites in Omaha charges one, but who knows.) If I bid in an area where resort fees are prevalent, I factor that in…or simply book elsewhere. But that’s hardly Priceline running the resort fee scam.

    Is Priceline a scam? No way.

    Is is something you should use all the time? No way. Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” option is NOT the option to choose if you have special requests. Pet fees, bed types, room location etc.

    I understand their business model. I go in with knowledge of where I’m likely to stay and how much to bid (thanks to sites like betterbidding and biddingfortravel) and have been very pleased with my experiences over the years.

  • VoR61

    A search of multiple sites and documents revealed only this statement:
    “Under the ADA, hotels, motels, inns and other places of lodging designed or constructed after January 26, 1993, must be usable by persons with disabilities.”

    I found nothing stating that the price must be the same as for other rooms,
    although I gathered the impression that it is common practice. Could you reply with an official siting of the equal price requirement you stated? (and, BTW, I will/do gladly subsidize the additional cost of an ADA-Compliant room).

  • John Baker

    I don’t think Priceline is a scam. I do think that its not the best fit for every situation and the special circumstance in this case, having a pet, probably warrants looking for a room directly.

  • naoma

    HA: I only stay at places that do not accept PETS. I have allergies and cannot be near them. If you bring a pet to a timeshare apartment and they do not know it — they
    have to fumigate the room at a fee of $200 or more. Some people still try to bring them
    in but the SMELL lingers.

  • naoma

    We never stay where PETS are welcome. I do not have any (allergies
    and I do not like dogs). Some people still try to “sneak them in” but they
    are always caught and the fumigation fee is around $200.

  • MarkKelling

    I have never been charged extra for a room that was designed for disabled persons (my mom requires one).

    The statement made by Sherry was nothing about paying more for an accessible room. The statement was that opaque sites like Priceline should not be where you go to look for a room if you have special needs of any kind because most of these sites just get you a room with no guarantees as to what type it might be. We have seen several complaints on this site about people booking what they thought were non-smoking rooms through opaque sites only to find the room they got assigned was the worst smoke infused room on the property.


    I do think the OP is wrong for thinking this is a scam. I have watched a relative book on Priceline regularly. The site always shows the tax amount due before you finalize the hotel booking. Not paying attention or buyer’s regret does not excuse personal responsibility—He should have looked at each stage of the booking process. And, since he was planning to travel with a pet, he should also have researched specific hotels and their fees before booking.

  • MarkKelling

    Agreed 100%. ANY charge that is mandatory and non-negotiable at the property should be included in the displayed price no matter where or by who it is displayed.

  • Miami510

    I voted “no,” because while I disagree with the subterfuge of not displaying all the costs, Priceline is doing what almost everyone is doing; quoting a lower price in order to entice customers to choose their product over that of a competitor.

    There is a remedy.

    A number of internet sites give customers a choice of the display they wish to have. Some book sellers give a choice of having the total cost with mailing or the cost without
    mailing displayed. Something like that would work for the travel industry: i.e. Room cost alone, Room cost with mandatory taxes, room cost with mandatory taxes and mandatory hotel fees.

    It might still be like pulling teeth to get all the possible fee choices such as pet fees, gymnasium fees, WiFi, etc, but such a choice would be the perfect answer to the many complaints of minimal disclosure and the post- hotel- stay disappointments.

  • Raven_Altosk

    No, Priceline isn’t a scam, but it’s not for someone with special travel needs –like a guy bringing a pet.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Just hope you don’t have to share space with an “Emotional Support Animal.” While I’m all for SERVICE animals, “ESAs” are nonsense. I sat next to an “Emotional Support Snake” on a plane once.

    Snakes on a plane…ain’t got nothing on this nutjob who kept wanting to play with her “pet.”

  • Raven_Altosk

    Drury Inns allow pets free of charge. When I moved across country the last time, I had six cats* with me. We stayed at Drurys the entire way.

    So do some hotels near Navy/Army bases for those relocating.

    *Yes, I’m a crazy cat dude. No, I don’t care what people think about it.

  • omgstfualready

    Kimpton doesn’t charge (and they have pet walkers too, they are genuinely pet friendly, not just pet tolerating).

  • omgstfualready

    hahaha, I’m dating a guy with three cats. He said up front he knows the line for being a crazy cat guy is right down the middle of the third one. Six……wow.

  • omgstfualready

    I’ve never used this site, or those like it, so I don’t know how things get displayed but my general experience tells me it is very hard to believe it occurred just as the OP stated. Perhaps the pet fee, but I would doubt the taxes. But that fudging makes the rest of the complaint suspect. I wish the OPs would own their piece of reality more.

  • paz5559

    The bid page reads “Total charges, including taxes and service fees, are shown on the next page.” Clearly what you bid DOES NOT include taxes and fees.

  • emanon256

    I voted no, though I still do think that Priceline is a scam, but that’s for many other reasons than what the OP experienced.

    I actually have little sympathy for the OP. It clearly disclosed that taxes apply after the rate. Also not expecting a pet fee? I have never seen a pet friendly hotel that didn’t have a pet fee. I am shocked that the Motel 6 was $10 a night, $50 is the cheapest I have seen ever, and I have seen some hotels charge $200 a night for pets.

  • emanon256

    I could not agree more.

    I think what happens though is one hotel doesn’t include their fees, so they appear cheaper and get more bookings. Then every hotel has to follow. I wish there was a law that the hotel rate must be all-inclusive of fees so we could get a true apples to apples comparison.

    I do like that on non-opaque sites the final rate with all fees is shown before booking, but there is no way to go through this without going through the booking process for each hotel either, so its more work. I was booking a 1 night get away recently and one hotel was quoting $189, while the other was $219. I was booking with the $189 when before confirming I saw that they had $100 in mandatory fees. I went back to the $219 hotel, and it only had $20 in mandatory fees. Its hard to compare the way they do things.

  • emanon256

    We have a Kimpton property near us that will provide a pet for you during your stay if you fail to bring your own. I didn’t know there was no pet fee, wow.

  • BMG4ME

    On the occasions I’ve used them I never had issues with them. Pet friendly does not mean free.

  • omgstfualready

    They are great properties, they also have yoga mats and dvds to borrow if you’d like and you can choose from a wide variety of pillows. In Boston I attended one of their nightly happy hours. They had sangria and wine in the lobby for hotel guests, it was fun and I chatted up a few nice people and learned about some new places to visit!

  • MarkKelling

    I might have to go there just for the pet! That is a great idea.

    EDIT: Looked at their site. They loan you a goldfish as the “pet”.

  • MarkKelling

    I have no problem with pets. Don’t care if a hotel allows them or not, but I never travel with mine since it is too stressful for them to be away from their routine. They are happier staying at home with a stranger than traveling. I do agree that they can leave smells in a room that do not lead to a good night sleep. I don’t want my hotel room to smell like a pet kennel.

  • MarkKelling

    You see the problem airlines are having complying with the all-in display of cost as shown by the new law making its way through congress which would allow them to not have to display total cost of a ticket. So hotels, car rental, and any other travel related industries that would be regulated so they would also have to display the cost with all mandatory fees and taxes would do everything legal to not be burdened similarly including getting federal law passed protecting them.

    I believe businesses would have a lot more happy customers if they would just price things fairly and all inclusive and then maybe offer a discount (a true price reduction not vouchers) to those choosing a less inclusive option.

  • emanon256

    It’s hotel Monaco Denver. http://www.monaco-denver.com/mondmn_pet.html

    We stayed there once when we were moving back and didn’t have our dog with us yet, so we requested a pet :) My absolute favorite Italian restaurant in Colorado in also in the hotel.

  • m11_9

    The taxes are a scam by local tax districts, especially stadium/convention center/visitor bureau. Not the fault of PL. On that note I paid around a 30% tax in Columbus OH, I hope someday I can get to see the stadium I helped to fund. Does PL let you know if your destination is way outside the norm for taxes? Can’t recall.

    Resort Fees are a scam. PL is negligent to allow that.

    Pet Fee is this guy’s very unique problem.

    Priceline works well for what it is. It pays to understand it fully. The best use for it is in areas with a ton of rooms, like a large city downtown. PL allows you to get a cheaper 4 star for the price of a roadside motel in the suburbs.

  • Raven_Altosk

    I had three, my now-wife had three…
    Now we’re down to five.

  • properthwacking

    The pet fee is obnoxious because the term “pet friendly” implies that there is no fee. Priceline should be more stringent in what they accept as a “pet friendly” property. This isn’t just priceline’s problem, it’s the hotel industry’s, but priceline could take the lead.
    Taxes… are applicable for hotels anywhere, whether NYOP or retail. So the argument is really moot. There is a point where some resellers charge “taxes and fees” and bury a charge in there. As far as Hotwire and Priceline have been known to do charge $5 extra here, maybe that should be illegal.

  • shannonfla

    I booked a mid-range pet-friendly hotel in Little Rock on an opaque site. Can’t remember if I had to pay extra for dogs but I don’t think so because I think it was a La Quinta (fiance did a ton of research to be reasonably sure this was the brand I would wind up with due to dogs with me).
    I am definitely sure that I got an upgrade though, because I was asked if I had any disabilities or medicine that needed to be refrigerated and, lucky me!, I did have medicine like that with me. So I got a king size room with fridge, which I originally wasn’t entitled to get, with no extra charge.
    You just need to find the little tricks of the trade but not exploit them.

  • properthwacking

    YES you’re right however priceline is specifically trying to SELL “pet friendly” accommodations. Therefore, the fee is usurious.

  • properthwacking

    Priceline is opaque, which means that “research” is not allowed.

    In general, you’re right about taxes and fees, however priceline is specifically trying to SELL “pet friendly” accommodations. Therefore, the fee is usurious.

  • properthwacking

    Then WHY does PRICLINE offer “pet friendly” choices? Don’t you see the problem?

  • Chris Johnson

    Having heard all the horror stories I’ve heard about Priceline, I will never use them. I think with enough comparison shopping on sites like Orbitz or Expedia, you could get pretty much the same price as them anyway.

  • properthwacking

    $50 is not friendly, either. A reasonable fee is $20, maybe. They have to clean the rooms regardless of who stayed there.

    You’re missing the point that priceline is specifically trying to SELL “pet friendly” accommodations and that the customer is interested in getting the lowest price, TOTAL. Suppose one hotel charges nothing, another one $20, another one $50. Some even do $100. Well, the excess fee defeats the purpose of using priceline. If priceline can’t accommodate the pet friendly sector, then they need to stop pretending they cater to pet owners with the “pet friendly” paw logo on certain hotels.

  • Chris Johnson

    That’s an experience I’d like to hear more about! I would have been pretty damn furious about sitting next to a snake on an airplane and raised as much hell as possible about it.

  • jim6555

    Yes, but you do not confirm your purchase until you see the page that shows taxes and other charges. If you don’t like what you see, you can back out.

  • properthwacking

    When using opaque hotels, particularly at or below 3 stars, use caution. Some of these properties have identified “hotwire rooms” as rooms that they know they can’t sell at full price, either because of maintenance issues, renovations in progress, size constraints, lack of renovation, full TV system not working, etc. They’ll “save” you 20% but they’re really just giving you less for what you paid for.

  • shannonfla

    Totally agree about resort fees! Once you pay PL, you’re done paying. You agreed on a price; there should not be any surprises

  • Michael__K

    I have experienced — it may have been once with Priceline and once with Hotwire — where upon arrival, the hotel tried to charge ADDITIONAL “local taxes” or a “resort fee” BEYOND what was quoted and documented on the confirmed opaque reservation.

    I successfully fought those fees, but it wasn’t a pleasant situation when the hotel insisted on additional payment before checking me in and I needed to call Hotwire/Priceline customer service from the lobby for assistance (with long hold times).

    These incidents happened 7 or 8 years ago; perhaps such surprises are much less likely today.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    “I can’t blame Rasmussen for thinking this is a scam.”

    I can. I can also blame him for either paying zero attention during the bidding process or being purposefully untruthful in what he told Chris.

  • $16635417

    The OP is throwing taxes out there as an issue to make it sound like he was hit with a bunch of hidden fees.

    Since when does “pet friendly” mean “pets stay free”?

  • $16635417

    Actually, now that you mention it, I had one hotel charge me a $5 “Hotwire fee” at check in. Since I did my research before bidding, I was expecting it and factored that into the bid.

  • MarkKelling

    I think that most people would agree that “pet friendly” simply means you may bring your pet with you and keep it in your room at the hotel. It does not guarantee there is no fee for having a pet in your room.

    There are hotels that do not charge extra for pets, several are mentioned elsewhere here. Maybe PL should have a different logo for “pets stay free.”

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Why does pet friendly = pets stay free?

    Does a kid friendly restaurant mean that kids eat free? No. It merely means that the restaurant is set up to accept kids as diners. As opposed to a snooty restaurant.

  • TonyA_says

    This dude is pointing out a double standard in the travel industry – airfares must be advertised inclusive of taxes and fee, whereas hotel rooms don’t.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    At the hotel I stayed in recently, they charged a $200+ pet fee. People who frequent that hotel consider it to be pet friendly. The point is that they have accommodations for pets and pet owners. You cannot arbitrarily say that the fee is too high so its not friendly. That’s a personal matter relating to one’s budget.

  • Michael__K

    Hotwire normally discloses and estimates resort fees (to a very close approximation) if they apply. I’m referring to completely undisclosed mandatory fees.

    Did these research sites exist circa 2006? In any case, there shouldn’t be any mandatory fees that are not disclosed by the OTA up front. You shouldn’t have to search third party sites to discover what additional mandatory fees apply.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I used Priceline/Hotwire about 15 years ago. In both situations, it was a matter of having last minute travels and no reasonable priced options, even though I trolled the internet. Priceline/Hotwire gave me a substantial discount.

    Biddingfortravel.com’s members swear by the discount. Not for me, but others may have different requirements

  • omgstfualready

    sorry, that’s hard.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    My big pet peeve about hotels is the resort fees. I think they they should be illegal as deceptive advertising. I’m not nearly as upset over quoting a price exclusive of government taxes. But any non-government fee that is unavoidable should be included in the initially quoted price.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Oh, you wouldn’t be surprised if you saw the Motel 6’s in the area. Don’t know which one the OP ended up at, but one of the three was once slated for demolition, and in my opinion, should still be torn down. The original booking is in an area with lots of Marriotts and the like, catering to the business traveler. Huge, huge difference in venues.

  • emanon256

    What makes $20 reasonable and $50 not? I’ve stayed at hotels that had a $200 pet fee for the first night, I didn’t think it was reasonable, so I hired a pet sitter. That was my choice. I’ve seen other hotels that charged $75 all the way up to $150 a night. What’s reasonable is subjective.

    All Priceline states under their “Pet Friendly” accommodations is that pets are allowed at that particular hotel and to contact the hotel for details. They never say pets are free, nor are they selling anything in regards to pets other than stating that Property X allows pets. Before booking with the name your own price tool, they also state:

    If you have special requests (including, for example, preferences for smoking or nonsmoking rooms, a specific room, particular bedding, floor location, closeness to an elevator, connecting rooms, or pet accommodations), you must call the hotel and verify that special requests can be met after you have made your booking. Priceline cannot accommodate special requests in advance of your booking and cannot guarantee that special requests will be met.

  • emanon256

    Priceline’s own website says that Pet Friendly means pets are allowed and to contact the property for further details. I’ve never understood “Pet Friendly” to mean pets stay for free. Friendly doesn’t equal free.

  • y_p_w

    Taxes and local fees are always disclosed before sending in the bid. That is absolutely clear on the page that says “Please Review Your Request”.

    I did a sample bid of $60 and get the following:

    Offer Price Per Room, Per Night: US$ 60.00
    Subtotal: US$ 60.00
    Taxes and Service Fees: US$ 16.26
    Total Charges*:US$ 76.26

  • Chris20127

    First of all, when you make a bid on Priceline you are not “comparing” anything – you are simply saying I am willing to pay xx dollars for a 4 star hotel in this area. The fees – which includes taxes AND priceline’s fees – ARE VERY clearly disclosed before you place your bid – in other words, you bid $48 per night, Priceline will tell you the total cost before you click the button …. for 2 nights the total might be $96 plus 18 in fees or a total of $114

    Secondly you cannot select things like a pet-friendly hotel, or one with no stairs or free parking or whatever – so if you need a pet- friendly hotel then using Priceline’s “name your own price” is REALLY a huge gamble –

    You can sometimes figure out which hotels you might be bidding on – for example, we stayed several times at a Hyatt Regency at prices ranging from $38 to 55 (rather the 100+/- regular rates) – we knew that was the only 3 1/2 star hotel in the area – so we also knew that internet was not free, parking was…

    For what it is, Priceline used to work great in certain areas (like near airports where there is often surplus capacity) – but it is limited and unless I am saving a LOT so paying for parking or even a resort fee is not a real problem, I don’t use it …

  • y_p_w

    No way the taxes were hidden. I’ve done this way too many times. It’s always disclosed in big print near where you have to click to send in the bid.

  • bodega3

    Resort fees are extremely annoying, but the biggest issue I have with looking up a hotel online, it finding out their parking fees. Some chains are very good about accessing those, but others, it is a hunt and peck and still not finding it without calling the hotel directly, which I have done multiple times.

  • y_p_w

    Here’s the interpretation for service animals:

    Q: Can I charge a maintenance or cleaning fee for customers who bring service animals into my business?

    A: No. Neither a deposit nor a surcharge may be imposed on
    an individual with a disability as a condition to allowing a service animal to accompany the individual with a disability, even if deposits
    are routinely required for pets. However, a public accommodation may charge its customers with disabilities if a service animal causes damage so long as it is the regular practice of the entity to charge non-disabled customers for the same types of damages. For example, a hotel can charge a guest with a disability for the cost of repairing or cleaning furniture damaged by a service animal if it is the hotel’s policy to charge when non-disabled guests cause such damage.

    I’d be surprised if there isn’t a memo out there telling hotels that they can’t charge more for accessible rooms.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I happen to like snakes very much, but there is absolutely no emotional bonding possible with a snake..Emotional projection, maybe, but bonding, no. Not really sure how a snake would be any different than a stuffed animal for reassurance. People who want to play with/publicly display an animal that causes fear and dislike in so much of the public really do have some issues that need to be addressed.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    @Christopher Elliott: the picture accompanying the story today is just too adorable! And it actually has relevance to the story. (And I’m not a dog person.) Figure I should offer positive feedback on the picture, since I’m so good about the other kind of feedback. :)

  • Joe Farrell

    Wife might be happy with bringing the dog along but prob not with a stay at the Motel 6 . . .

  • emanon256

    I would have gone with this picture :) Or should I say :o3 <—- Dog emoticon.

  • LFH0

    Look at Title III of the ADA, section 302 (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 12182), along with the implementing regulations at 28 C.F.R. §§ 36.201, 36.202, 36.301(c); cf. 49 C.F.R. pt. 37, App. D, § 37.5.

  • LFH0

    The ability to book a room through Priceline, and being able to take advantage of naming your own price for a room, is a benefit. To deny people with disabilities that benefit is discrimination. The ADA prohibits discrimination as to public accommodations on the basis of disability. In contrast, the ADA does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of smoker/non-smoker status.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    Um, so the guy doesn’t know there are taxes on hotel rooms. And he is unaware that a room must be specially cleaned after a pet stays there. I’m surprised he could figure out how to book a room on the computer. When you have “special needs” guys, CALL the hotel, don’t expect someone else to take care of you.

  • LFH0

    Emotional support animals have indeed been controversial, but the law has been quite clear with respect to the service animals used by people with disabilities. Unfortunately, I think there are still many people in the travel and hospitality industry that still don’t get it, and attempt to prohibit service animals as if they were pets (they’re not) or to impose special fees for service animals (they can’t, unless the service animal itself creates the necessity for a special service such as cleaning up the excrement of a service animal).

  • VoR61

    Quite a maze, but in looking through most of them, still no statement requiring hotels to do a price match. And given the cost of room modifications to accommodate ADA requirements, it stands to reason that a hotel could charge extra for said room or rooms.

  • emanon256

    Actual text from the ADA:

    Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

    http://www.ada (dot) gov/service_animals_2010 (dot) htm
    I added the bolding.

  • TonyA_says

    Fly the Friendly Skies. Don’t you see the problem? :-)

  • emanon256

    Woo Hoo! United is 100% free :)

  • TonyA_says

    Maybe 100% free of friendliness :-)

  • TonyA_says

    This is where Expedia beats Priceline, IMO.
    Compare their fee disclosures for this particular hotel.

    Priceline: Pets are permitted for a fee.

    Pets allowed, Pet maximum weight in lb is 25. Pet fee: USD 50 per stay.

    So why is Expedia better?
    I think Priceline simply used the fee information the hotel has in its GDS source; whereas Expedia most probably has its own or a better source.

  • LFH0

    Section 201 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 2000a) does not explicitly state that hotels cannot charge different rates on the basis of race. It states, “All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.” Compare with the ADA which states, “No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation . . . .” 42 U.S.C. § 12182. If it stands to reason that a hotel could charge a person with a disability more for a room that a person without a disability, then the same reasoning would lead to the conclusion that a hotel could charge a black person more for a room than a white person.

  • MarkKelling

    A hotel is free to charge any customer any rate they want at the time they book or check in. So the guy in front of you might pay $100 and you might get charged $200 and the guy behind you might get charged $50.

    Unless there is a pattern of charging people who fall into whatever group you do a higher rate, it is not discrimination but only a business practice.

  • VoR61

    “the same reasoning would lead to the conclusion that a hotel could charge a black person more for a room than a white person.”

    They are not the same AT ALL! What I said is that there is an added cost to make a hotel room ADA-Compliant. It must be larger for one thing in order to accommodate a wheelchair. Plus the added features in the bathroom. A person’s ethnicity adds nothing to the cost of construction for a room, and I have to wonder why you would even say such a thing …

  • $16635417

    I didn’t search the sites to see what other fees existed. The sites are for people to post what bids are accepted in the various zones in the bidding cities. Yes they existed prior to 2006.

    In researching a particular bid, I noticed people posting that XYZ hotel was collecting a $5 fee at checkin that was called “Hotwire fee” by the hotel. A completely undisclosed “mandatory” fee by the hotel. Turns out it was against the T&C of their contract with Hotwire. (I complained, with a lot of other posters, to Hotwire about it.)

  • LFH0

    That’s actually an administrative interpretation of an ADA implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. § 35.104, and not the “actual” text of the ADA itself. Nonetheless, it is an accurate interpretation of the regulation that was adopted by the Department of Justice in response to the controversy over businesses not wanting to accommodate snakes, monkeys, horses, etc. as service animals. I think the prior commenter here was largely correct in her conclusion that emotional support animals are nonsense. But don’t let that controversy detract from the issues relating to legitimate service animals.

  • Chris20127

    interesting that most people voted “Yes” that Priceline is a scam – but almost all the comments – mostly from Priceline users – say “no” that the taxes and fees are clearly disclosed –

    by the way, another point in Priceline’s favor is that there is much less “star” creep than on Hotline or expedia – a 3 1/2 or 4 star hotel is usually genuinely one – and for cheaper hotels/motels you are almost always better off dealing directly with the business and skip the bidding

  • $16635417

    I totally agree…that was the point of my post.

  • $16635417

    That is interesting about the poll, because when you go through the process you do NOT have to pay prior to seeing the total bid and can clearly go back and adjust your bid lower if you want.

  • LFH0

    Paying a higher price for something does not constitute full and equal enjoyment. If there is cost for making rooms ADA-compliant, that cost needs to be built into all rates, and recovered from all persons, whether disabled or not.

  • Raven_Altosk

    SMI/J will smile all the way to the bank, tho.

  • LFH0

    Charging different rates to different people IS discrimination. The real question is whether it is PROHIBITED discrimination. If the reason the guy in front gets charged $100 and you get charged $200 is that the guy is of a preferred race, then that’s discrimination based on an impermissible classification, and is prohibited. On the other hand, if the guy in front gets a better deal because he does business frequently with the hotel, or even if it is just random, that discrimination is just fine (so long as the classification used is not mere pretext, or a surrogate for, a protected classification).

  • foggybear

    FYI, Drury Inns revamped its pricing structure this year, and pets no longer stay free.

  • Laura616

    I didn’t think $50 for the dog was unreasonable. That is fairly standard

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    big questions are:-
    1) why do ANY hotels ANYWHERE allow dogs or any pets for that matter.
    Who would want to stay in a room after a pet (yes I know some hotel guest are bigger pigs than animals)
    I don’t give a stuff if guest is blind & has a seeing eye dog. I DON’T WANT TO STAY IN A ROOM AFTER ANY DOG !!!
    2) how do dodgy US states get away with charging taxes in the 1st place ?

    The U.S. must have one of the dodgiest tax systems in the world.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Boo :(
    That makes me sad.

  • $16635417

    Priceline actually covers this in their T&C’s.

    Disability Needs

    If you have disability needs (for example only, you need a wheelchair accessible room or require the use of service animal) you must call the hotel after your booking is made and verify that your needs can be met. Priceline.com cannot accommodate disability needs in advance of your booking. If your disability needs cannot be accommodated by the hotel, please call Priceline customer service.

  • omgstfualready

    1.Because people want it and a business exists to satisfy its customers. That is why some expressly do not allow it which is where you’d choose.
    2. You realize each state has their own constitutions and they are allowed to tax according to those laws.

    The news has been clear there are a few other places that are very open to allowing for the dodging of taxes, especially by US citizens.

  • Michael__K

    I don’t usually book on Expedia, but when I did 18 months ago (because they had rooms unavailable even through the hotel’s site), the fee disclosures were precise… but completely wrong.

    The hotel said they would contact Expedia to fix their listing, but the fees are still incorrect to this very day.

    I initially assumed it was the hotel’s fault for not correcting their fee disclosures, but then I read this:

  • TonyA_says

    Oh I do remember that small Luna Blue hotel. We had a discussion about this and I made a few comments. Their big issue, if I recall, is they quit the Expedia system but Expedia kept them in the system with ZERO rooms available since Expedia could not make reservations anymore :-)

    This brings up the point – who is really responsible for the accuracy of the CONTENT of hotel information? This question is above my pay grade :-)

  • y_p_w

    The service animal accommodation is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is law, and it is followed unless the management wishes to be sued and possibly even shut down. The management is not supposed to treat anyone with a service animal any differently. However, the law does allow the management to charge for cleanup costs should a service animal damage or unduly soil the room. If you don’t like it, nobody is forcing you to visit the United States nor stay in a hotel room.

    States typically don’t charge room taxes. It’s usually counties and/or cities. And there are some odd ones. San Jose, California charges an additional fee for the largest (maybe 25) hotels within the city limits – to go to their convention promotion fund.

  • y_p_w

    Well – the business has no other choice when it comes to someone bringing in a service animal.

    The ones that allow regular pets aren’t that common. However, I remember staying at a room that had the odor or ripe dog urine.

  • y_p_w

    You can’t avoid service animals because every business is required to allow them.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    dogs doing number 1’s, 2’s & 3’s in hotel rooms is a health issue. We all know the health system in the USA sucks, but really.
    A hotel could surely refuse an animal based on this alone (unless a service animal).
    Although, a hotel can refuse anyone it likes without having to give a reason.

  • y_p_w

    About the only thing I can think of would be that someone requiring the services of a service animal can’t be charged more solely on the basis of that alone. However, should said service animal cause damage, the ADA doesn’t absolve the owner from liability. So if the dog pees on the carpet, the law allows the management to charge for the cost of deodorizing the carpet.

  • TonyA_says

    You know he turned down a special $48 rate for a room that usually goes for $79-89 Best Available Rate (BAR) at Hawthorne. What a deal !

    Motel 6 has a BAR of $49-51 in the area and he paid full fare for that?

    So he totally forgot the VALUE of the room and made his decision largely based on the pet fee. UNBELIEVABLE !

  • TonyA_says

    In the hotel industry pet friendly is another term for pets allowed.
    It is an AMENITY of the hotel. They list the amenity we can search based on that amenity.

    It is not correct to assume that an amenity is always free.
    You still need to find out what the fees are.

    Priceline did not disclose the amount of the pet fee. But I have to assume that their information source was lacking on that matter. Hence, Priceline is not guilty of scamming the LW.

  • bodega3

    What about the babies who pee on the bed or the toddlers that have an accident in the room?

  • y_p_w

    Refusing someone without a reason may not be a very good idea in the United States. I know there are signs that say that, but the reality is that there are such things as “class action lawsuits” that most business would like to avoid, if only to avoid the costs of defending them.

    The hotels that do allow dogs are often quite upfront about. Motel 6 advertises that they are “pet friendly”. Anyone who books at one should know this and those who don’t find it acceptable are free to choose another brand.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    a hotelier can just say YOU’RE NOT WELCOME.
    He/she doesn’t have to explain, so can be sued, unless they give a reason.
    Bloody lawyers.Surprised the whole USA doesn’t grind to a halt.
    When are you going to start STOPPING the lawyers ? They’re stuffing up your country.

  • Bill___A

    It is odd, for lack of better words, to ask if somewhere is a scam for not including taxes or pet fees. Although there may be places out there that do not charge extra for pets, to the best of my knowledge, most do.
    As for taxes, in places like the United States, it is very typical to show prices without taxes.
    If there were an unmentioned “resort fee” that would be another thing…but to suggest that a site is a “scam” for not including taxes or pet fees is absurd.
    Although we’ve been told that the headlines and poll questions often have little in relevance to the subject at hand, it is difficult to understand how someone associated with places like National Geographic and USA Today would resort to tabloid like headlines to attract readership.
    I do appreciate the content of the site, generally, but this is despite the headlines and poll questions, not because of them.
    One must wonder if more people would be attracted to the site if it were more professional in these two respects.

  • Bill___A

    How did this become a discussion about the ADA? It is about pet fees and taxes.

  • LFH0

    There was a comment as to who should and should not use Priceline. Therein was a suggestion that people with disabilities should not use the service, a suggestion that implicates the ADA. Much of the ensuing discussion has been peripheral to the original story (perhaps reflecting the political agreement or disagreement regarding the law’s enactment and its provisions).

  • Bill___A

    My point was that it seems to have taken over the discussion. I don’t use priceline because I like to have more control over what I get for a room.

  • LFH0

    That’s essentially the same reason I don’t typically use Priceline. Neither my wife nor I drive, so we’re always looking for hotels that are either in city centers that are pedestrian-friendly, or are located adjacent to a good (reliable) public transit route. In large cities, Priceline zones can be small enough that these criteria can be met, but in many others the zones are too large for me to risk getting stuck in an inaccessible hotel. But I think those concerns are different from the focus of the story here, which is the question of whether the terms and prices are reasonable. I don’t have as much of a problem with that as compared to others (including people with disabilities who either need an accessible room or travel with a service animal) since I typically read the disclosures carefully before committing, and if I don’t like them I won’t book.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    FYI. LFHO is 100% correct on this one.

    Adding an extra cost to something to permit one to exercise rights is rarely permissible. Consider poll taxes. A cost to exercise your right to vote was considered unconstitutional.

    its the same reason why business must permit service animals without any additional charge.

  • Carver Clark Farrow


  • Carver Clark Farrow

    $10/nt? You sure it wasn’t $10/hr


  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That doesn’t bother me as much. You can pretty much figure out if a hotel has a parking fee and how much. They tend to be consistent within an area.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That would be very imprudent. We have this little thing called civil rights. Arbitrarily denying someone is a good way to end up on the receiving end of a complaint for civil rights violations

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    don’t be ridiculous. If I don’t like the look of you, I don’t have to sell (a room) to you.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Perhaps in Australia. Not in the US.

    If you decide that you don’t like the looks of say.. blacks, You cannot decide not to hire, serve, sell to, etc. blacks. You may not like that, but that’s the law.

    Housing and employment are special cases where that law is even stronger.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    He is making the correct legal analysis. Discrimination law arises from racially discriminatory practices and now include other forms of discrimination.

  • $16635417

    Research is not allowed? Explain please.

    I research before all my bids. (And sometimes choose not to bid based on that research.)

  • Chris Johnson

    I did use Hotwire once or twice when I was a student with more time on my hands and could be more flexible about departure and arrival times. I never did see any good deals on Priceline though.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Great minds think alike. I haven’t named a price with priceline for a while so I decided to check (not complete the transaction) and saw the additional fees disclosed before booking.

    However… there is a clear hyperlink in the taxes and fees section with this disclosure:

    “Depending on the property you stay at
    you may also be charged (i) certain mandatory hotel specific service
    fees, for example, resort fees (which typically apply to resort type
    destinations and, if applicable, may range from $10 to $40 per day),
    energy surcharges, newspaper delivery fees, in-room safe fees, tourism
    fees, or housekeeping fees and/or (ii) certain optional incidental fees,
    for example, parking charges, minibar charges, phone calls, room
    service and movie rentals, etc”

    In the past, I have never been charged a fee by a hotel that i could avoid (such as rental fees or parking.) BUT that may have changed. If priceline is going to start letting the hotels play the bait and switch game through name your own price, that may undermine the desirability of the bidding system. In the past, I liked paying a flat fee (including the taxes) up front with few to no surprises after I checked out.

    The safest thing to do, IMO, is to stick to 3 star hotels. They tend to offer the most (free) amenities with the fewest surprises. 5 stars seem to think you’re made of money or you have a business expense account.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    It’s always good to call the front desk. One gal was especially cool about it. She said it was 40 bucks to park at their hotel but when I asked for the best price nearby she said:

    “Across the street it’s 17 bucks a day.”

  • IGoEverywhere

    NO WAY does Priceline whithhold information! Priceline is a screen with no human contact. You know it when you sign up. You get what you input on the reservation. Is there room to ask questions; no. David got what he paid for, a room. If he had taken the time to read all of Priceline’s “small print”, he would have read their tax disclosure. I have used Priceline for myself with a huge good – horrible result. I do not see any reason for Priceline to disclose the pet “fee”, it is clearly stated on the hotel sight. Oh, I did not know what hotel that I bid on, then stay off of Priceline.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    Let’s be honest, if it was $20, you’d say that was too high. If it was $5 many people would say THAT was too high.

  • y_p_w

    Again – United States.

    There was an infamous case of the casual dining restaurant chain Denny’s where they served member of the United States Secret Service on the President’s protection detail. They somewhat self-segregated along racial lines, but they chose to do so themselves. The white agents were served quickly. The black agents found themselves waiting over an hour. They sued and won. There were many other cases – especially black customers being asked to pay in advance. They sensed a pattern and after a while they found out that individual owners were developing policies that violated anti-discrimination laws.

    The fact is that anyone denying service better have a good reason that can be explained. If the person denied service belongs to a “protected class” – they better especially be careful to have a good reason. The assumption made will be that it’s based on being a member of that class, and once lawyers are involved it will get messy.

  • y_p_w

    I haven’t seen a mandatory “resort fee” but in one case my wife booked a resort hotel in Maui. We found out that if we booked directly with them the resort fee wasn’t charged, and the amenities included parking, pool towels, bottled water, free local calls, and two drinks at the bar. The choices were to pay $20 just for parking or their $25 resort fee that included parking and the other amenities.

    She did book it for about $160/night. It would have otherwise been about $350/night.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    It always pays to call the front desk. Question: Do you think you could have booked the same resort on priceline for the same price as calling the front desk or didn’t try (because there is no way to know in advance the priceline bid price and the front desk price before booking. That’s the point of bidding.)

    So it’s hard to say without jumping in feet first.

  • John

    I’ve also been stuck by Priceline with hidden excessive parking fees, internet fees and resort fees. My final complaint to Priceline was that they gave me their version of a 3 star hotel, even though the hotel said (in writing) that “we do not advertise, or consider us as a 3 star hotel.” Priceline responded by saying they have their own star ratings which could be higher than the hotel rates itself. No more Priceline for me.

  • John

    And yes, these were fees at the hotel, after I had paid Priceline.

  • Leonard Cobb

    I recently booked a rental car for use in the UK through Priceline because it offered very cheap Collision Damage insurance – however after booking the vehicle and filling out the online insurance forms I was informed that the insurance was only available to US residents not Canadian!

    Surely another instance where it would have been so easy to point that out before any form filling or vehicle renting!

  • y_p_w

    Well – I do have an experience with a transparent booking on Priceline. It was for a regular hotel at a great rate in San Diego. The screen said something about parking included with the rate, which was prepaid and nonrefundable. Seemed a little bit odd, but I booked it anyways and saved the receipt as a PDF. Later I checked my reservation on Priceline and the description of “parking included” went away; it might have been a corrected mistake.

    So we arrive there and were fully ready to pay for parking if needed. I show the receipt to the desk clerk, she goes through the door to the night manager, and I’m given the complimentary parking. I did mention that the included parking was a reason I booked, but I wasn’t going to go crazy if I didn’t get it. I did also notice that there was free street parking in front of this hotel. It might have been a better option, given that the spaces were extremely narrow and there wasn’t much space left in their relatively small garage. The garage was also right next to the street, so it wouldn’t have been much more of a walk.

  • bodega3

    Yes, they even have to let you stay :-)

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    Here we go, playing the race card again.
    You do not have to serve anyone, if you don’t want to. Basic human right !!!!!!!!!

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    ah no they don’t, but it must be handled the right way.

  • y_p_w

    All it takes is enough people to compare notes. That’s what got Denny’s into hot water. Start with a class action, then perhaps a disgruntled ex-employee willing to turn “state’s evidence” about a systematic practice of denying service or goods to certain protected groups.

    There’s no issue if a business denies service to a homeless person who hasn’t bathed to the point where the odor is clearly offensive to anyone. That’s a pretty standard way to operate.

    And if AUSSIEtraveller is a correct moniker, then even Australia has public accommodations laws similar to those in the United States. Here’s one example from the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977:


    Provision of goods and services

    19 Provision of goods and services

    It is unlawful for a person who provides (whether or not for payment) goods or services to discriminate against another person on the ground of race:

    (a) by refusing to provide the person with those goods or services, or

    (b) in the terms on which the other person is provided with those goods or services.

    Or Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Act 1995:

    Division 4—Discrimination in the provision of goods and services and disposal of land

    42 Discrimination in the provision of goods and

    (1) A person must not discriminate against another person—
    (a) by refusing to provide goods or services to the other person;
    (b) in the terms on which goods or services are provided to the other person;
    (c) by subjecting the other person to any other detriment in connection with the provision of goods or services to him or her.

    (2) Subsection (1) applies whether or not the goods or services are provided for payment.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    you’ve got your wires crossed. Not talking about any group, just saying you can deny service to anyone you want.

  • y_p_w

    Again – you’d better have a good reason that can be substantiated. Because if you don’t and accusations are made that such denial was based on being in a “protected class”, then you’re going to have to be able to defend that it wasn’t.

    http://www.ou. edu/deptcomm/dodjcc/ groups/02C2/Denny’s.htm

    Although Denny’s received negative press coverage because of this incident, the crisis soon passed. It didn’t grow into a major crisis until a more highly publicized incident occurred 2 years later in a Denny’s restaurant in Annapolis, Md. May 24, 1993, six members of the uniformed division of the U.S. Secret Service filed suit against Denny’s, claiming racial discrimination when they were trying to receive service April 1 of that year (Chin et al., 1998). Less than a week after signing an agreement with the youth in the 1991 incident, a waitress at the Denny’s restaurant in Annapolis refused to serve breakfast to 6 black Secret Service agents. This set the stage for a full fledged public relations disaster.

    Denny’s actually paid out $54 million. One of the cases involved a black federal judge who was denied service for an hour. There were over 4000 claims. Each one of them might have been taken as an isolated incident, but together they seemed to form a systematic pattern. And it doesn’t require 4000 claims. A half-dozen claims plus a single disgruntled employee willing to fess up would be enough.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    you don’t have to give a reason. I don’t like look of you will suffice.
    Stop carrying on like some amateur lawyer. Nothing like Dennys case.
    We didn’t suggest should allow blacks/gays/jews.

  • y_p_w

    Again – no wires crossed. This is the way it really works if a business wants to avoid getting sued. Another legal advice website:

    http://www.legalzoom. com/us-law/equal-rights/ right-refuse-service

    Like many issues involving constitutional law, the law against discrimination in public accommodations is in a constant state of change. Some argue that anti-discrimination laws in matters of public accommodations create a conflict between the ideal of equality and individual rights. Does the guaranteed right to public access mean the business owner’s private right to exclude is violated? For the most part, courts have decided that the constitutional interest in providing equal access to public accommodations outweighs the individual liberties involved.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    “I don’t like you” is not discrimination.
    Don’t have to give anyone a reason.

  • y_p_w

    A business owner can say “I don’t like you” all they want, but they better be able to back up why they don’t. Because if they seem to only say that to certain groups with protection under civil rights laws, they could be looking at a nice class action lawsuit. In the Denny’s cases nobody flat out said “we don’t serve black people”, but the pattern was obvious.

    The fact is there have been businesses that gave no reason for why they were denying service, got sued because several prospective customers thought it was because of being in a protected class, and a court agreed with the plaintiffs. Without demonstrating a legitimate business purpose for doing so, not providing a reason for denial of service will set up a business for a nice civil rights violation claim.

    The article I linked states the case of a motorcycle club whose members were denied entry into a bar because they refused to remove or cover up their club colors/patches. The court ruled that it served a legitimate business purpose – to reduce the chance of fights between rival clubs. But they articulated the reason, which wasn’t based on any protected class and where there was a clearly defined remedy where they would allow them to enter.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    you just don’t get. You don’t have to give any reason at all.
    If you were silly enough to say why that could probably get you into trouble.

  • y_p_w

    Stop carrying on like some amateur lawyer. Nothing like Dennys case.

    Then why don’t you listen to the advice of Mr. Farrow (California State Bar license #202277)? He said that arbitrarily denying service is a bad idea because it could trigger a civil rights violation claim. And he’s right, because there’s plenty of cases where that has happened.

    It’s pretty simple – if there’s a reason for denying service, then articulate exactly why and make sure it serves a legitimate business purpose. Because if the business doesn’t and there are enough pissed people to file a class-action lawsuit, then no amount of claiming that it was the business’s right to deny service to anyone is going help.

    And the start of this was your claim that someone could simply get around the ADA’s requirement that service animals be accommodated by simply denying service without giving a reason. This is exactly how many businesses got sued and lost.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    you cannot be forced to do something you don’t want to do !!!

  • y_p_w

    You don’t seem to get it. It’s been tried many times where no particular reason was given for denial of service, but enough people came forward comparing notes. No reason was given in the Denny’s cases, but I think it’s in the back of the mind of any black person that they might be treated shabbily. They weren’t stupid enough to say it, but 4000+ cases where the customers were black was enough.

    Your initial post said that a business could refuse a customer without saying why, but where you hinted it was to get around the requirement for accommodating service dogs. Do it enough times and maybe people compare notes (especially with support groups on the internet) enough to sense the reason why. That’s the makings of a class action lawsuit.

  • y_p_w

    you cannot be forced to do something you don’t want to do!!!

    If one operates a business that is open to the public and has a business license, then you are absolutely incorrect. There is no right to operate a business in contravention of public accommodations laws.

    Now there are legitimate means to narrow down your clientele, such as a dress code. I remember seeing the signs at a bar saying “no jeans”. Some places require men to wear a suit with a tie. That’s defensible under the law because it doesn’t on its face shut out anyone in a protected class.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    I get it but you don’t.
    Dennys did the wrong thing, by saying they didn’t serve a certain group.
    What they should have said is GO AWAY or we’ll throw you out.
    If that wouldn’t leave in Texas they would probably end up being “escorted” out by barrel of a gun.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    wrong again I’m afraid.
    No one has to serve anyone that don’t want to.

  • y_p_w

    Actually – in the Denny’s case there were no reports that they said anything about the race of the customers to them. But there were enough black customers who sensed a pattern to file a class-action suit. There were also managers and employees willing to speak up about the training they received on how to treat black customers differently.

    As for Texas:

    TUESDAY, MARCH 9, 2004

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Justice Department today announced the settlement of a public accommodation discrimination lawsuit against the owners of a campground located in Concan, Texas. Under the terms of the settlement, the defendants, Camp Riverview, Inc., and its owners, will implement customer policies and procedures to ensure that all Camp Riverview visitors, campers, and prospective campers receive equal treatment.

    The lawsuit, filed in October 2002, alleged that the campground and its owners violated Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by denying lodging to Hispanic individuals, harassing Hispanic campground guests, and evicting Hispanic guests from the campground because of their national origin or color. This matter was referred to the Department of Justice by the Corpus Christi Department of Human Relations (CCDHR) after several evicted campers filed complaints with CCDHR.

    After the Department filed its lawsuit, thirteen private individuals intervened in the case. The private plaintiffs have also settled their lawsuit against the defendants.

    I researched this case. I couldn’t find any reporting that they told these customers that they were treated as such because of their status. They simply sensed why and enough people coming forward provided all they needed to form a plaintiff-class.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    SO Dennys discriminated. So what ?
    I’m saying you don’t have to serve anyone if you don’t want to.
    No one can make you & no reason need be given. Applies in both Australia & USA, even with your very dodgy laws.

  • y_p_w

    OK. Suppose you own your own business and don’t mind being sued out of business, then be my guest. In principle one can refuse to arbitrarily serve someone provided it’s not actually on the basis for being in a protected class. However, if that person is actually in a protected class, then the business owner better be very careful.

    Business owners have tried the “I don’t need a reason” angle, and it didn’t work. Any attorney advising a client on how to handle denial of service would tell the business owner to have a clear policy that is applied equally to everyone, and to not use “I don’t need a reason” as a pretense. Most business owners aren’t stupid enough to do what you suggest because all it takes is one prospective customer denied service (who is a member of a protected class) to file a lawsuit.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    Won’t be sued.
    I can decline service to anyone. No one can make me give a reason.
    Stop playing scary lawyer. We don’t fear lawyers.

  • y_p_w

    It’s easy enough to research that there have been many civil rights lawsuits were brought where nobody was specifically told why they were denied service.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    must have been badly handled.
    No one can make you serve anyone (except maybe in Iraq in a state of war)

  • justmeeeee

    To me “pet friendly” would mean the hotel accepts pets (which most don’t) but I would never presume there would be no fee attached. However, $50 is way out of line. Still, if I were traveling with a pet, I would never use priceline.

  • justmeeeee

    Priceline does include the taxes and fees it knows about. I’ve occasionally seen a city tack an additional tax onto the federal sales tax and the priceline “fees” which were disclosed up front. Still, priceline should let their cooperating hotels know that any and all taxes and hotel-imposed fees need to be included in the prices they quote, or they can drop the hotels from their lists. Not likely, but that’s how it SHOULD be. Priceline prices aren’t so great these days, anyway–often about the same as you can get from transparent websites, and priceline itself seems more interested in being simply a booking website than a website for bargain-hunters. Notice how they always direct you first to their transparent page, thinking (probably correctly) that less experienced users will assume that’s all there is,and book there.

  • LonnieC

    After reading all of the comments on protected classes and the right to refuse service under certain circumstances, I’m reminded of a case where an attorney was refused service. The attorney sued, and lost. It seems that attorneys are not a protected class, and can be refused service on the basis of their profession. Funny…. (and I’m an attorney – funnier still.)

  • PolishKnightUSA

    I know this is naughty to say, but when I stayed at hotels and had to take my cat (I was moving at the time), I simply didn’t tell them. I never mentioned the cat. I then requested that the room not be cleaned and left a large tip for the cleaning staff. Never had a problem. Always took his carrier in through the back way covered by a garment bag.

    But I can understand why many hotels may have a pet fee and limited rooms similar to smoking: Both are full of allergens and the next person may get sick if they stay in that room and the cleaning will need to be more thorough. For allergic people, this includes steam cleaning and cleaning all bedding. Some people may be so sensitive that the mattress can retain allergens.

    So certain rooms probably need to be pegged as “pet friendly” and given a more thorough cleaning than regular rooms. If I’m a cat person I don’t want a room that smells like wet dog, for example.

  • sirald66


    If you use PriceLine’s “Name Your Own Price” service, you could end up with a bad choice of airline.

    EXAMPLE: Frontier Airlines charges $25 per carry-on bag, when most domestic airlines provide your first carry-on free. Extra fees can be a got’cha to a winning bid.

    EXAMPLE: Recently Korean Air executive Cho Hyun-ah, who was the executive head over cabin service, turned the plane around at JFK because macadamia nuts were served to first-class passengers in a bag rather than on a plate. They berated the senior steward, forced them to kneel in apology, then kicked them off at the gate. A family business run a muck.

    After 22 days of back-and-forth with PriceLine, it comes down to this. PriceLine not only does not care, they will not listen. They refuse to discuss the policy or consider options to omit airlines during bidding. Their customer service refuses to connect you with a manager (I asked several times). Attempted contact with executives was ignored.

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