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Inadequate travel and pricing information on many travel websites

Monday, April 14, 2014

Travel booking websites still not sufficiently consumer-friendly, according to European Union. One in five Dutch travel websites, for instance, do not follow the EU's regulations. In many cases, the Terms and Conditions and pricing information is unclear. 

The European Commission came to this conclusion after their most recent survey. Last year, travel portals throughout the EU were assessed. Of a total of 42 Dutch travel sites, only one adhered to all the rules set up by the EU, which focus mainly on pricing information and accessibility. The other websites were prompted to fill in the gaps by improving their Conditions of Use and adjusting the pricing information. Eight of the 41 sites have not improved their webpages to this date and therefore still do not comply with the EU's guidelines; the other 33 did in fact amended their sites.

Misleading pricing information

The websites in question contain misleading pricing information, which led to the majority of complaints. An example of such misleading information is when visitors are lured in by extremely low prices; during the booking process, many additional fees and options are automatically checked. As a result, the final price is much higher than the price initially mentioned in the advert. Another complaint had to do with the ease with which the travel agency or operator could be reached in the event of complaints. In addition, the terms of travel were vague or hard to find.

Consumer research in 2012 and 2013

In 2013, the European Commission checked a total of 552 booking sites, across all EU Member States. 70% of all sites did not meet the requirements; this percentage has since gone down to 38%.

Last year, a total of 370,000 euros in fines were imposed for violations in the online booking process.

Written by: Team