Thursday 17 October 2019

Booking.com is still 'misleading' consumers, says watchdog

Travel website Booking.com is continuing to mislead consumers with pressure-selling tactics despite a crackdown by the competition regulator, according to a watchdog. Stock picture
Travel website Booking.com is continuing to mislead consumers with pressure-selling tactics despite a crackdown by the competition regulator, according to a watchdog. Stock picture

Josie Clarke

Travel website Booking.com is continuing to mislead consumers with pressure-selling tactics despite a crackdown by the competition regulator, according to a watchdog.

Which? in the UK carried out spot checks on six websites ordered to make changes following enforcement action by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) over concerns of pressure selling, misleading discount claims, the impact of commissions on search results and hidden charges.

The regulator concluded that practices such as giving a false impression of a room's popularity or not displaying the full cost upfront could potentially break consumer protection law. It gave the websites - Expedia, Booking.com, Agoda, Hotels.com, ebookers and Trivago - until September 1 to comply.

However, Which? found five out of 10 claims of "only one room left" on Booking.com didn't give an accurate picture of availability.

In one example, search results for the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge warned that just one "secret deal" room was available - a superior double room with disability access priced at £232 (€262).

But Which? found another 10 rooms available for a cheaper rate.

"We found clear evidence that Booking.com has not yet sufficiently cleaned up its act and is flouting the rules on pressure-selling," said Naomi Leach, from Which? Travel.

Irish Independent

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