If Hilton hotel guest Rodney Harmon had known that the USA Today left by hotel staff outside his door wasn't free, he wouldn't have read it. But he did read it, and the hotel charged him the 75-cent fee, so now Harmon's suing Hilton hotels in federal court.
It's mind-boggling that Harmon wouldn't gladly pay 75 cents, or even twice that amount, to start off his morning with a copy of America's best angel-news source, but some people are just unusual. Because many U.S. hotels provide free USA Todays to guests, Harmon assumed that his hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn Sonoma County Airport, was no different. When he received his hotel bill, he discovered the 75-cent charge for the stealth paper and concluded that he had been "deceived" by trickery.
Surely Harmon couldn't have been the only consumer to fall for this "free" paper scheme. On Wednesday, he filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on behalf of all Hilton hotel guests who might have been similarly duped:
Harmon accused Hilton of deliberately hiding the newspaper charge by describing the fee in an "extremely small font which is difficult to notice or read" on the sleeve of the room card.
"The alleged consumer injury is substantial, causing millions of guests at defendant's hotels to unwittingly part with money for a newspaper they did not request and reasonably believed was provided to them without charge," the suit says.
Saddling guests with unwanted newspapers isn't the only harm done by Hilton, Harmon's suit points out:
The wasted papers are an "offensive waste of precious resources and energy," said the suit, which also said that "deforestation caused by paper production is a matter of concern and worry in this state, country and worldwide."
Calling USA Today an "offensive waste" is mean, but sometimes the truth hurts.