Hidden charges in hotel booking sites probe CMA into investigation
Published on : Friday, October 27, 2017
The CMA is concerned about the clarity, accuracy and presentation of information on sites, which could mislead people, stop them finding the best deal and potentially break consumer law.
In its investigation, it will examine several practices, including:
- Search results: how hotels are ranked after a customer has entered their search requirements, for example to what extent search results are influenced by other factors that may be less relevant to the customer’s requirements, such as the amount of commission a hotel pays the site.
- Pressure selling: whether claims about how many people are looking at the same room, how many rooms may be left, or how long a price is available, create a false impression of room availability or rush customers into making a booking decision.
- Discount claims: whether the discount claims made on sites offer a fair comparison for customers – for example, the claim could be based on a higher price that was only available for a brief period, or not relevant to the customer’s search criteria, for example comparing a higher weekend room rate with the weekday rate for which the customer has searched.
- Hidden charges: the extent to which sites include all costs in the price they first show customers or whether people are later faced with unexpected fees, such as taxes or booking fees.
Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA said that about 70% of people who shopped around for hotels last year used these sites and they should all be confident they have chosen the best accommodation for their needs and are getting a good deal. In today’s increasingly busy world, sites like this offer real potential to help holiday-makers save time and money searching for their ideal get-away. It is thus necessary, that the sites should give their customers information which is clear, accurate and present in a way that enables people to choose the best deal for them. This is the major reason why they have started the investigation into this sector.
The announcement follows Expedia recently promised to become “much more customer centric”. Ufi Ibrahim, the chief executive of the British Hospitality Association also said that the organisation have now imposed more transparency stating that their objective is not to hinder the growth of the online marketplace but to deliver a fair digital market.
Tags: CMA, hotel sites