Are Oregon Hotels Gouging Consumers With Sky-High ‘Eclipse’ Rates?
So, you booked a room several months or weeks ago, or even in late 2016, because you knew Oregon was going to be the best place to view the once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse coming in August. But then you find out the hotel cancelled your reservation, and now wants $500, $800, even $1,000 more for the room. Is that legal?!?
That's the argument at the center of a growing issue facing at least a dozen hotels who are located in the prime viewing band across Central and Northern Oregon. According to oregonlive.com, dozens of people have had their reservations cancelled and the rooms are double or even triple the cost. Why?
Sources say hotels began to figure out they could make a LOT of money from tourists coming to see the rare eclipse. So much so that they've cancelled reservations and are demanding much more. As many as a million people are expected to flock to the state, including those who travel from other parts of Oregon, to see the event.
Oregonlive.com says legally, hotels can do what they want, as long as they don't engage in deceptive in advertising and marketing. That's according to Ellen Klem of the U.S. Department of Justice. They are looking into several dozen official consumer complaints filed with the government over the cancellations.
DOJ is looking to see if any of the accused hotels have violated the Unlawful Trade Practices Act. Most of the complaints are similar, says oregonlive.com. A consumer books a room well in advance. Then the hotel cancels the reservation near the end of 2016, and says the cost has doubled, tripled or even risen to as much as $1,000 a night.
Legal? Could be. But certainly not ethical, say the consumers. They feel like they're being punished. Meanwhile, the hotels are blaming it on "rebranding," computer glitches or refuse to offer any explanation.
But to the consumers who are now without a room, and facing huge cost increases, they believe the hotels are price gouging. If DOJ finds any who have violated the Trade Practices Act, it's a $25,000 fine-per infraction!