The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an investigation into hotel booking websites amid concerns that consumers are not getting a fair deal.
The watchdog says it is concerned about clarity, accuracy and presentation of information on these booking websites. It says consumers may be being misled by the sites and prevented from finding suitable deals.
Specifically, the CMA is investigating how booking sites order their search results and how other factors, such as the amount of commission the site receives, affects the ranking of results.
It also has concerns over pressure selling, and whether sites create a false impression of having limited room availability to rush customers into making a booking decision.
Sites making claims about discounts on hotel room prices are also under the microscope. It says some sites may be suggesting a discount is being applied when the higher price was only available for a brief period. In other cases, booking sites could be comparing a higher weekend room rate with the weekday rate that the customer has searched for.
Finally, the CMA wants to check that booking sites make it clear what taxes and booking fees are applied to during the checkout process.
‘Sites need to give their customers information that is clear’
Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, says: “Around 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 getaway.
“To do this, sites need to give their customers information that is clear, accurate and presented in a way that enables people to choose the best deal for them. But we are concerned that this is not happening and that the information on sites may in fact be making it difficult for people to make the right choice.”
“That’s why we have started our investigation into this sector – to get to the bottom of these issues, see whether sites are breaking consumer law and make sure they help, not hinder, people searching for their next hotel room.”
Earlier this year a CMA report into price comparison websites concluded, with one site now under investigation for overcharging.
I was completely conned when booking a room with Travelodge. On complaining I was informed that it wasn't their responsibility and advised to take it up with the third party that dealt with my booking. I was under the illusion I was dealing with Travelodge ? My room was advertised online as £87 for the night, however, by the time a covert tax was added to my Bill, I was charged over £142 . Unfortunately I wasn't aware of this until I'd already paid by debit card. Yet another example of legalised robbery . Please be aware of this disgusting practice when booking with Travelodge .