Online travel sites are still using pressure tactics to panic people into booking hotel rooms, a probe claimed.
The consumer watchdog Which? found claims such as “one room left at this price” or “booked four times in the last 24 hours” could push customers into booking. But the study found in some cases there were more than 50 rooms available.
In February, Expedia, Booking.com, Trivago, Hotels.com, Agoda and Ebookers were pulled up by the Competition and Markets Authority. They were ordered to stop giving a false impression of a room’s popularity or discounts and told to be upfront about the full cost of a booking.
However, Which? has revealed that these methods continue to be used.
It found that Trivago was advertising a deal with Expedia for the Millesime hotel in Paris, claiming the £244 price tag represented a saving of 63 per cent. However, this was only compared to the most expensive price advertised on another site – and, when the researcher clicked through, the other site was actually offering the same room for £4 less than Expedia.
Which? also claimed other pressure tactics being used. It found Booking.com was advertising the “last” double room with private external bathroom at the Balmore Guest House in Edinburgh, despite a further seven en-suite doubles being available at the same price.
Agoda was also accused of misleading customers by Which? – hotels such as the Grand Hyatt New York were advertised at one price per night, only for a further £30 hotel tax and service fee to be added further down the booking process.
But with the deadline not until September 1, Which? travel editor Rory Boland, said: “Millions are still going to be duped this summer. You’re usually better off calling the hotel for the best rate anyway.”
In a statement Trivago said: “Trivago compares the hotel prices we receive from many different booking sites according to the dates specified by each customer.
“There are occasionally differences between prices and we are working to mitigate these effects so that each and every customer can find their ideal hotel.
“Our work hasn’t stopped there - we have written to all booking sites and hotel firms demanding that they fall in line with the same standards so people can be sure the deal they choose is the best one for them.
“All these sites have until September 1 to fully comply but if they don’t, the CMA is prepared to take further action against them.”
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