The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is launching enforcement action against a number of hotel booking sites that it believes may be breaking consumer protection law.
As part of an ongoing investigation, the CMA has identified a number of widespread concerns with how bookings websites operate and the techniques they use to encourage customers to make a purchase.
The CMA has found that many sites are breaking consumer law when it comes to search results, pressure selling, discount claims and hidden charges, and will be taking action to address these concerns.
Enforcement activity will see the CMA secure legally binding commitments from those involved to change their business practices or, if necessary, take them to court.
Warning letters have also been sent to a range of sites, demanding they review their terms and practices to make sure they are fair and comply with consumer protection law.
It is also referring a number of concerns around online hotel booking sites’ price guarantees and other price promises to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The CMA has asked the ASA to consider whether statements like ‘best price guarantee’ or ‘lowest price’ mislead customers and what conditions must be met for companies to make such claims.
UKHospitality’s chief executive Kate Nicholls said that the announcement meant ‘good news’ for both hoteliers and consumers.
“We have been working tirelessly to highlight these practices, so are pleased to see the CMA take action.
“The CMA clearly intends to ensure that online booking sites are transparent and accurate, and that customers have complete peace of mind when booking. Extra reassurance for customers is welcome and that confidence should provide a boost for businesses.”