What to watch out for.
In a report published last week, the European Commisionrevealed that 235 of the 352 travel booking websites they examined advertised prices or deals that were not necessarily true.
The main problem that the commission found was that websites were often unclear regarding the price of booking: Of the most common price problems, one-third of the websites showed a different initial price than actual final price. Another third were “unclear” when presenting the final price, including taxes.
While the study was focused on travel booking websites for EU customers, the findings are valuable for any consumer: Whatever site you're booking on, pay attention to the details.
About 20 percent of the websites enticed customers with “special prices,” which were then unavailable when they clicked through to the final booking page.
Over one-quarter of websites took advantage of a “scarcity factor.” This happens when websites implore customers to hurry and book a deal because there are only two seats left. However, they neglect to tell customers that this scarcity only applies to the number of tickets that the booking site itself has.
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“The Internet provides consumers with plenty of information to prepare, compare and book their holidays,” EU Commissioner Věra Jourová said in a statement. “However, if the reviews on comparison websites are biased or prices are not transparent, these websites are misleading consumers.”
The 235 websites that the commission found “misleading” will “have to correct the irregularities.” Consumer Protection Cooperation authorities will follow up with the companies to ensure that they comply.