Travel agencies still too vague about prices for package holidays: ACM

Travel organizations are still too vague with their prices for package holidays, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) concluded after investigating the 12 most prominent providers of these holiday packages. Eleven of them still hid mandatory additional costs. And consumers regularly could not book a package holiday for the price first shown on the website.

Price is often the most important criterion for consumers when they decide on a holiday, Edwin van Houten of the ACM said. “We want to prevent them from being confronted with unexpected costs at the end of the booking process or even at their travel destination. We expect all parties to state their prices, including all mandatory costs, and that the offer can also be booked for the indicated price.”

The ACM sent a letter to all 12 travel agencies indicating where they need to adjust their price indications. They have eight weeks to put their affairs in order, or sanctions will follow, the ACM said.

The requirements include that local or variable costs must be clearly stated in a separate line and as part of the total amount and not be “hidden under an i.” Once all variables of the trip are known, like destination and dates, all mandatory additional costs, including those charged locally, must be included in the total amount. And when the traveler is at the point of hitting the “book” button, the total amount of the travel sum with all elements must be clearly visible.

Consumers must also be able to book a trip for the price shown on the website, with which the consumer is invited to click on the offer, the ACM said.

The law is clear on this point, the ACM said. All costs of a purchase must be clearly and unambiguously stated in advance. If that doesn’t happen, it is fraud. “It is now up to the industry to show that they take their consumers seriously on this point,” Van Houten said.

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