A federal lawsuit filed in California accuses Hilton Worldwide Inc, Expedia Inc and other hotel retailers of conspiring to fix hotel room prices while battling small retailers who have been able to sell rooms cheaply. The lawsuit was filed Monday in federal court and it has two consumers looking for class action status. The plaintiffs have accused the hotels of teaming with room sellers on the internet to set minimum rates for rooms. They are asking for money damages not yet specified.
The plaintiffs in the case, Nikita Turik and Eric Balk, claim that the hotels violated California and federal antitrust laws by creating agreements that had operators of hotels ending business with internet retailers that were selling rooms under certain rates. The complaint said that the agreements were created during conferences and in meetings that were supposed to fight competition from smaller internet retailers that were selling rooms at cheaper rates.
There are 15 defendants in the lawsuit in California. Those defendants include Travelocity.com LP and its parent company, Sabre Holdings Corp. and Orbitz Worldwide Inc. Other defendants include Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc and Marriott International Inc. Starwood operates the hotel chains of Westin, W and Sheraton.
One of the plaintiff’s attorneys, Steve Berman, said that the travel websites create an illusion that customers are able to find the best deals. “The reality is that these illegal price-parity agreements mean consumers see nothing but cosmetic differences and the same prices on every site,” Berman said.