EU Report Exposing ‘Misleading’ Travel Booking Websites Welcomed

11 Apr 2017

67% OF WEBSITES  DISPLAYED UNRELIABLE PRICING

Ryanair, Europe’s No.1 airline, today (11 Apr) welcomed a European Commission study which revealed that two thirds of more than 350 travel comparison and booking websites checked were displaying unreliable pricing, which will now be the subject of EU enforcement procedures.

The European Commission and EU consumer protection authorities launched a coordinated screening of 352 price comparison and travel booking websites across 28 countries, due to the high level of complaints received by European consumer centres.

Some 235 websites were found to be displaying prices that were ‘not reliable’, with many sites imposing additional price elements at a late stage of the booking process (without clearly informing the consumer), or displaying promotional prices that did not correspond to any available service. The study revealed that:

  • In one third of the cases, the price first shown was not the same as the final price.
  • In one fifth of the cases, promotional offers were not really available.
  • In almost one third of the cases, the total price or the way it was calculated was not clear.
  • In one in four cases, websites did not specify that statements about scarcity (e.g. "only 2 left", "only available today") applied strictly to their own website.

Ryanair welcomed the EU’s decision to invoke national enforcement procedures to ensure these websites comply with EU consumer legislation, requiring them to be fully transparent about prices, and present their offers in a clear way, at an early stage of the booking process.

Ryanair has been engaged in several legal cases across Europe against “screenscraper” websites such as Opodo and eDreams to prevent consumers from being subjected to extra charges and to ensure Ryanair has appropriate contact details to communicate with its customers.

Many of these websites continue to cause problems for Ryanair customers and/or fail/refuse to pass on vital information to both customers and Ryanair regarding issues such as flight changes, web check-in, special needs assistance and contact details, which has resulted in missed flights and repeated problems for customers.

Ryanair has also commenced legal proceedings in the Irish High Court against both Google and eDreams to stop them misleading consumers by advertising non-existent Ryanair fares via the eDreams website and Google search adverts, practices which are prohibited by Irish consumer legislation.

Ryanair has no issue with OTAs who display Ryanair’s fares in a transparent manner, and urged all customers to book directly on the Ryanair.com website for the lowest fares and best customer care.

In Brussels, Ryanair’s Chief Marketing Officer, Kenny Jacobs said;

“The Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová, herself said that if reviews on comparison websites are biased or prices are not transparent, then these websites are misleading consumers. It’s patently obvious that consumers across Europe are being misled and overcharged by some of these websites. We welcome this report, which exposes these anti-consumer practices and we hope its findings will lead to greater protection for consumers. Our advice to customers is simple: book directly on the Ryanair.com website to avoid being misled or overcharged.”

ENDS

Read the European Commission study here