A federal court declined to dismiss a lawsuit claiming that the travel booking site fraudulently promised the lowest fares, even when hidden fees made booking direct a substantially cheaper option.
The “Best Price Guaranteed” promise is at the heart of a class-action lawsuit filed against Priceline.com in the District of Connecticut Federal Court. According to court filings, although the travel booking site offered comparable tickets on Spirit Airlines flights for the same prices that the low-fare carrier advertised on its own website, a series of hidden fees charged by Priceline actually made booking directly through Spirit the best price.
Lawyers for Priceline argued that the website lived up to its best price guarantee, which applied only to the price of the ticket. The booking site insisted that surcharges (spelled out in the user agreement) should be viewed as separate from any promise the company made to guarantee the best price available.
Judge Robert Chatigny didn’t buy Priceline’s argument. “It is plausible that a reasonable consumer would interpret the contract language to include a promise not to add hidden surcharges,” Judge Chatigny said in the ruling this week that denied Priceline’s motion to dismiss the case.
“Priceline’s practice of adding surcharges to Spirit Airline tickets is in violation of its best price guarantee,” Plaintiff’s Attorney Jeffrey Kaliel said in a statement praising the decision. “The Court’s ruling on the motion to dismiss is the first step toward achieving an important victory for consumers.”
Beyond celebrating the ruling, the lawyers certainly sound eager to move forward quickly. Without missing a beat, Kaliel went on to encourage all passengers who have purchased Spirit Airlines tickets through Priceline or any other third-party booking site to contact the Washington, DC-based law firm of Tycko & Zavareei for “more information regarding the pending lawsuit and your legal rights.”