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EU: Airline Web Sites Must Improve Or Be Closed
engine

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Msg#: 3504657 posted 2:42 pm on Nov 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Over 200 European Web sites selling airline tickets, including many run by leading airlines, are misleading to consumers and will be shut down if they do not improve, the European Union's consumer chief said on Wednesday.

Consumer Protection Commissioner Meglena Kuneva gave airlines such as Ryanair and the owners of the other travel Web sites four months to "get their act together" or face possible closure of their sites.

EU: Airline Web Sites Must Improve Or Be Closed [uk.reuters.com]

 

smartpc

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3504657 posted 4:03 pm on Nov 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Ah dont close ryanair.....

How will I ever get to the middle of no where miles from anywhere again.

travelin cat

WebmasterWorld Administrator travelin_cat us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3504657 posted 4:17 pm on Nov 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is not surprising. We run a U.S. based travel site specializing in a type of travel and we get people all of the time contacting us with questions like "Is this the total?" "What are the charges after we book?" and the ol' standby "What are the hidden charges?".

Apparently some of our EU cousins are baiting and switching, a clamp down on this is not only expected, but welcomed.

BeeDeeDubbleU

WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3504657 posted 4:18 pm on Nov 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is long overdue. A week or two ago I was looking for a budget flight and this was advertised at 99p each way. The real proce was more than 60. This is plain and simple deception.

It's bit like the local garage advertising petrol at 20p per litre and charging you 1.00 when you get to the pump.

irish_john

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3504657 posted 4:44 pm on Nov 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Try using a site that Ryanair that by default, will include Travel Insurance on short flights when you don't need it, and fees for priority boarding that you must deselect, and more fees for using a credit card, in addition to taxes.

vincevincevince

WebmasterWorld Senior Member vincevincevince us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3504657 posted 4:59 pm on Nov 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Not a moment too soon. Car rental sites need to be next as they too add on many items to the original prices shown (under 25? one way charges? refuelling fee? out of country charges? child seat charges?)

ambellina

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3504657 posted 5:09 pm on Nov 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

eww. I don't travel often so I had no clue these sites were getting so shady. I hope they follow through and really crack down on those unethical chumps.

shorebreak

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3504657 posted 5:15 pm on Nov 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Any have a link to the actual EU govt posting? It'd be interesting to see which sites were & weren't listed.

Thanks,
Shorebreak

Commerce

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3504657 posted 6:31 pm on Nov 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is not surprising. We run a U.S. based travel site specializing in a type of travel and we get people all of the time contacting us with questions like "Is this the total?" "What are the charges after we book?" and the ol' standby "What are the hidden charges?".
Apparently some of our EU cousins are baiting and switching, a clamp down on this is not only expected, but welcomed.

Ditto here. Although I must admit we've pretty much run far away from "cheap" as any form of draw. For us, it generally comes down to being a looser in terms of ad program keyword performance. Getting rid of it has saved us a lot in ad costs, without all that much of a loss in revenues.

I suppose that those consumers who go after that keyword tend to be the ones who get sucked into these unrealistic cheap travel sites the EU is after. I am rather surprised that the airlines themselves are engaged in this kind of activity (though perhaps I should not be).

I've always believed that competing on price alone is generally not a good strategy. Rather, I think it is best to have some perceived or real competitive advantage and lead with that.

-Commerce

hughie

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3504657 posted 7:37 pm on Nov 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

About time, i just don't see why ryanair and co need to carry on with the practice anyway, they've got their message across.

EVERYONE knows you cant get a flight for 99p, so why even bother. They've only got away with it so far because in the end you generally still get a good deal.

WebWalla

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3504657 posted 7:40 pm on Nov 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Any have a link to the actual EU govt posting?

[europa.eu...]

You can only see how many sites were looked at for each country, not what those sites were.

BeeDeeDubbleU

WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3504657 posted 7:52 pm on Nov 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

The same rules should be applied to holiday companies who deliberately mislead the public by advertising stuff like "Two weeks in Majorca for 299". When you try to make the booking the actual cost is often doubled with supplements for this that and the other.

adfree

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3504657 posted 6:51 am on Nov 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

One reason they haven't asked the telecom's for the same yet is they can't find any contact information on their websites and they need 50% EU commissioners to even gather all pricing data...

It's about time we get something back for our patience with Strassbourg.

Moncao

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3504657 posted 7:48 am on Nov 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

"It's about time we get something back for our patience with Strassbourg."

You mean past enjoying the highest level of human rights in the world (within the EU), the absense of conditions for WW3 (GWB may change that by taking the location somewhere else of course), extra profit from open borders, not having to take the crumbs from someone else's table (ask the Dutch about that one after they were humiliated by the US after WW2), the chance to live and work where you want (within the EU), the ending of certain price hikes (how many Britis enjoy wine they buy in France?), etc., etc. Sure large organizations like the EU generate extra beaurocracy early on plus there are tons of crooks in the market that need to be slapped down, but it is slowly happening. I agree that there needs to be better clarity and even honesty amongst the air carriers, but that applies to other business too (take hotel wholesalers who state service charges are included yet not a penny ends up with the hotel staff as they are legall and morally entitled because what the agent is actually offering is the Net rate). And I will take a flight on a cheap no frills airline in the EU but not dream of doing the same in Asia; that is thanks to the EU Aviation Safety Commision. God bless the EU; I'd take a generic EU passport if it existed over a national one any day.

BeeDeeDubbleU

WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3504657 posted 8:25 am on Nov 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

Wow! A true European! ;)

One reason they haven't asked the telecom's for the same yet is they can't find any contact information on their websites

Pot - kettle - black? ;)

ectect

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3504657 posted 9:07 am on Nov 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

The other thing they don't make clear is that the same flight will cost you 50 quid or 50 euros depending on where you are making your order from - not so much misleading as a complete rip-off.

iwwc

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3504657 posted 9:34 am on Nov 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

I run a ferry website. The price stated on the site is the price you pay. No misleading prices are advertised at all, yet I still get customers asking me if I can match an offer they have seen elsewhere that clearly is not going to be the price you end up paying.

When I explain that they have to add this, that and the other to those prices and it will cost them even more than they would pay on my site you can tell they don't believe it.

I think there is a responsibility to ensure that you are not misleading customers, so I welcome it with open arms.

Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3504657 posted 11:35 am on Nov 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's not just airlines.

Much of the travel industry uses bait advertising. For example, most of the hospitality industry use rack rate prices to indicate "discounts" which are utterly false, since nobody ever intends charging the inflated rates.

Many websites provide "from" prices which you can rarely find.

I think if the travel industry is to receive a crackdown, it must be at the supplier level like airlines , hotel chains and car rental companies who licence sales to web sites. And then the websites as a secondary level of distribution could be better tackled.

But i give little chance to the regulators conrolling the whole industry. It's been going on for decades in other forms and they didn't manage to fix it. Airline's might be an easier target though, since there's fewer of them.

BeeDeeDubbleU

WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3504657 posted 11:59 am on Nov 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's been going on for decades in other forms and they didn't manage to fix it.

Did they try?

vincevincevince

WebmasterWorld Senior Member vincevincevince us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3504657 posted 12:29 pm on Nov 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

Perhaps they can take a leaf out of credit regulation and specify that the price advertised or a lower price will be paid by an estimated 60% of all customers. Flights for a tenner would have to mean 60% of seats at a tenner or less, inclusive of all add-ons the typical customer will require.

Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3504657 posted 9:44 pm on Nov 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

Did they try?

In the sense that the principles of promotional deception are the same via a website / promotional practice and conventional deceptive / bait advertising and techniques.

It's a big task and I've seen attempts from regulatory authorities in some jurisdictions which have been successful in adjusting promotional methods. But it takes many forms and the commercial enterprises are agile in getting around things.

Major travel agency Flight Centre has been ordered to dump its main advertising slogan for five years and issue a swag of corrections by the competition watchdog.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said it had accepted court-enforceable undertakings from Flight Centre which is one of the nation's largest travel agencies.

It will not be able to continue the "lowest airfares guaranteed" slogan it had used for 17 years.
Source : [smh.com.au...]

The bottom line from a commercial viewpoint [ and not the morale viewpoint ] is it worth the disruption to a business to run this risk. Most will say it is and clearly some of the largest perpetrators, such as RyanAir or some of the the other competing discount carriers of this form of advertising are also successful business'. Customers will put up with the whole package of bad websites, being mislead , and poor service if the eventual deal is sweet enough - even if they do complain in their 10's of millions.

They also tend to target the big guys to make an example. So airlines are fair game and there are not many of them. But the funnel to catch the smaller players via key distribution channels and methods at strategic points is probably getting easier.

Perhaps the only deterrent to poor corporate promotional practice is the institution of gaol sentences and heavy personal fines to corporate executives responsible for these decisions, such as those being now imposed for anti competitive practices , like collusion with price fixing, particularly in the US, but the Courts may not deem these questionable promotional methods serious enough to warrant these penalties.

The EU does have substantial resources though and if competitors are "forced" to lower their standards to compete, then something will have to break. I guess it's a case of taming the jungle.

btw - it's not just the travel industry that will be caught in this loop. Google will need to be careful in ultimately what it publishes, although it's defended things well to date. But the ACCC case [ ACCC versus Google [accc.gov.au...] on false and misleading advertising ] in Australia and several French Court decisions relating to misleading methods are a constantly evolving test for the online industry.

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