The Competition and Markets Authority, CMA, has announced that it is launching enforcement action against a number of hotel booking sites which it believes are breaching consumer protection law in the UK.
The CMA has confirmed that it will be securing legally binding commitments from those sites ut believes are breaching consumer protection law or they may face court action.
The CMA has also confirmed that in addition to the enforcement action it is taking it is also contacting a number of sites demanding that they review their practices to ensure that they are both fair and comply with consumer protection law.
The widespread concerns identified by the CMA include;
- Search results: how hotels are ranked, for example to what extent search results are influenced by factors that may not be 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, such as 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.
The Chief Executive of the CMA, Andrea Coscelli said;
“Booking sites can make it so much easier to choose your holiday, but only if people are able to trust them. Holidaymakers must feel sure they’re getting the deal they expected, whether that’s securing the discount promised or receiving reliable information about availability of rooms. It’s also important that no one feels pressured by misleading statements into making a booking.
The CMA urges anyone who feels they have evidence of bad practice to log the evidence with them at the dedicated page here.