Reservation Counter, LLC and its parents companies have settled Federal Trade Commission charges that they misrepresented hotel bookings and credit card charges to consumers.
The proposed order bars the defendants from future conduct including leading consumers to believe incorrectly that they are communicating directly with hotels to book rooms. As a result, the defendants may not use hotel logos in advertising in a misleading way or put their own phone number near a hotel’s name, logo, or address so as to imply that the consumer is calling the hotel. The defendants must also be clear and not misleading about when consumers’ credit cards will be charged, and disclose if they will be charged immediately rather than upon arrival at the hotel.
While the proposed order does not include a monetary penalty, the defendants must comply with the injunctive provisions as well as recordkeeping and reporting requirements.
The FTC lodged the complaint as part of its efforts to ensure that consumers receive clear, accurate information about hotel bookings in order to make informed choices.
Takeaway: Advertisers and marketers should be aware that the FTC is keeping a close watch on deceptive implied claims, which include misleading juxtaposition of logos, false implied associations, and not being sufficiently clear about who the advertiser truly is. We recommend being aware of and ensuring the accuracy of possible implied claims as part of any advertising claim review.