Santa Clara, CA: A proposed consumer fraud class action lawsuit has been filed against the online travel site Priceline, alleging the taxes it collects from customers for hotel rooms, car rentals and airline tickets booked through the site are not being returned to customers when reservations go unused.
Filed by Priceline customer Richard Laquer, the complaint alleges the taxes and fees collected for his car rental in June in San Francisco were not returned to him even though he never picked up the car. Additionally, he claims that this money was never paid to local tax authorities, meaning The Priceline Group Inc, was unfairly profiting from its collection.
"Priceline Group, in charging 'taxes and fees' for a rental or purchase transactions that did not complete, violated various local, state and federal laws regarding the charge and collection of taxes,"the lawsuit states. "Priceline Group has been unjustly enriched by the charge and collection of 'taxes and fees' for vehicle rentals that did not occur."
Laquer claims that he used the "Name Your Own Price"feature on the Priceline website to reserve a car rental for $35. However, he was also charged an additional $19.05 in "taxes and fees"for the transaction. When he did not rent the car Priceline kept the charges, the suit states.
"Priceline Group knew when these representations were made, or made them as a positive assertion recklessly, that it would not pay the 'taxes and fees' it collected from plaintiff and the putative class members to the various federal, state and local taxing authorities in the event the rental or purchase was not completed,"the complaint states.
The potential class action asserts negligence, unjust enrichment and false representation. It is seeking disgorgement of the taxes and fees collected by Priceline and not returned with canceled orders and actual and punitive damages of not less than $5 million, and an injunction prohibiting the company from charging taxes and fees in the future unless a transaction is completed.
The plaintiffs are represented by Larry A. Tawwater and Darren M. Tawwater of the Tawwater Law Firm PLLC. The case is Laquer et al. v. The Priceline Group Inc., case number 5:16-cv-00015, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.