Online travel agency Rocketmiles must pay Washingtonians $300,000 over hidden feesChristian Fernsby ▼ | August 3, 2020
Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced that, as a result of his office’s multiyear investigation into online travel agency Rocketmiles, Washington consumers can now file claims to receive their share of a $300,000 recovery.
Topics: Rocketmiles Washington
Eligible consumers will receive $20 per transaction with Rocketmiles, the average amount of the hidden fees Rocketmiles charged from May 1, 2015 to December 5, 2016. Each individual can file a claim for up to two transactions, or $40. Consumers who paid these hidden fees are eligible to receive money from the recovery if:
- They lived in Washington and they booked any hotel with Rocketmiles, or
- They booked a hotel in Washington, regardless of where they lived.
From May. 1, 2015 to Dec. 6, 2016, the company advertised online that consumers would “pay the same rates” booking a hotel with Rocketmiles as booking directly with a hotel or with a competing travel agency.
The Attorney General’s investigation found that, contrary to its claims, Rocketmiles charged consumers an additional fee on its transactions, which could make some of its bookings ultimately more expensive than its competitors.
This additional fee was lumped in with general “Taxes and Fees,” an amount shown only toward the end of the booking process. Rocketmiles gave no additional information or itemization for these “Taxes and Fees,” even though the company charged an average of $20 more than the required taxes for a particular booking.
The company did not disclose this extra fee to consumers, nor explain why the fee was charged. In fact, in an FAQ on its website, Rocketmiles claimed that it was impossible to provide itemizations for these tax amounts.
During that time period, the company added this fee to thousands of transactions in Washington even though it was advertising that consumers would pay the same hotel rates. These transactions included people booking hotels in Washington, as well as transactions from Washington consumers using the Rocketmiles website to book hotels.
In order to avoid a lawsuit from Ferguson, Rocketmiles has paid the office $300,000, which includes full consumer restitution, claims administration costs, and attorney’s costs and fees. Rocketmiles is also legally barred from using deceptive advertising about hotel pricing, including fees. ■