The European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net ) has called for consumers to be aware that when they are booking holidays online the initial price indicated is not always the final price, and to take measures to avoid surprises.
The warning comes after ECC-Net launched its report, Online Holiday Booking: Is the initial price the final price? The report revealed that EU consumers are often surprised by price increases — caused in a majority of cases by extra fees — that occur between the initial price quoted and the final price at the payment stage of the booking process.
“We’re all eager to get away for the summer so it’s great when we see what we think is a good deal but we would advise consumers to hold back, take your time, and do your research," said Martina Nee, press and communications officer for ECC Ireland. "The initial price might be great, but just remember that the final price could be much higher and this should clearly show all the fees and other charges. Make sure to also check if there are extra services included, read the terms and conditions looking out for things like cancellation and refund policies, and take screen shots of what you’re booking in case something goes wrong.”
In 2015, the ECC-Net was contacted 23,103 times by consumers on the topic of holidays, including 10,286 complaints related to online holiday bookings. Although online holiday bookings can be quick and easy, a certain proportion of consumers felt deceived and were often frustrated by the price indication processes used by online platforms/travel agents, airlines, hotels, or car rental companies. The ECC-Net joint project, which was led by ECC Luxembourg and involved information gathered from all ECCs including ECC Ireland, set out to ask the question whether the initial price of flights, hotels, cars, timeshares, or other holiday services corresponds to the final price paid by a consumer at the end of the booking process.