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Hilton Newspaper Suit: Charged for USA Today

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on August 03, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A recent guest at a California Hilton has now started a class-action Hilton newspaper lawsuit. The Hilton is being sued over newspapers that they leave outside guests' doors.

Rodney Harmon, 55, stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Sonoma County Airport in late March, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Outside his door in the morning was a copy of USA Today. Harmon checked his bill, and then noticed that he had been charged for 75 cents for the newspaper, which he never requested, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Harmon subsequently filed a federal class action lawsuit. His claim? That Hilton is instituting a "scheme" where USA Today papers are distributed to unsuspecting guests who never requested the paper in the first place.

Apparently, the fee associated with the paper delivery is printed in very small print. And, the only way to stop delivery of the USA Today is to call the front desk and cancel the delivery. As a demonstration of how egregious this business practice is, the lawsuit claims that the 75 cent charge doesn't even show up on the bill in the first place, only a credit will show up if you decide to cancel the service, reports SF Weekly.

It's Harmon's contention that most likely the guests aren't even reading the paper. Which means that trees are dying for no good reason - and that the "deforestation caused by paper production is a matter of concern and worry in this state, country and worldwide," the San Francisco Chronicle quotes from the complaint.

Harmon's lawsuit is basically alleging that the Hilton is engaging in deceptive business practices that violate California law, according to the filed complaint.

And, 75 cents is no small change when you aggregate the newspaper costs for all the guests who have ever stayed at a Hilton.

Maybe that's why the Hilton newspaper lawsuit is asking for both an injunction and monetary relief. If Harmon prevails, the hotel chain will have to stop with its distribution of the papers. And, maybe there's an even wider effect: now that Hilton has been sued over newspapers, other hotel chains - many of which have similar practices - might be a bit wary.

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