Travel firms warned over hidden chargesOFT tells firms to clean up their act

09 February 2007

 

Tougher action will be taken against holiday and travel companies who bump up the price of trips with hidden charges.

The Office of Fair Trading says it expects companies to clean up their act and change their advertising within three months or possibly be taken to court for breaching consumer protection laws.

The pledge, issued with the full backing of the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta), aims to end the scourge of misleading pricing.

An OFT spokesman said: ‘They are getting three months to change their advertising. We expect any new advertising to comply straight away.

‘Under the Enterprise Act 2002 we can go to court if we feel consumer protection laws are being infringed.

‘The ultimate would be to take them to court. We see this as a last resort. We will use these powers if we receive further evidence after that three month period.’

Fuel charges

Fed-up holidaymakers often find that some fixed non-optional costs are not included in basic advertised holiday and travel prices.

These include fuel supplements, which can add up to £65 per person to the price of a flight or holiday.

Abta members sell 90 per cent of foreign package holidays in the UK. The organisation's code requires them to show clear and transparent pricing.

But more recently, the law has not been enforced on airlines and companies outside of Abta membership, which meant Abta members were put at a commercial disadvantage, it claims.

The OFT now expects all holiday and travel suppliers, including non-Abta members and airlines, to ensure they include all fixed non-optional costs in their basic headline prices.

Supplements and taxes

Holiday Which? Editor Lorna Cowan said: ‘This is something Holiday Which? has been campaigning about for years, and we are very happy this is happening.

‘Holiday Which? has always said that the advertised price of a holiday should be the price you pay. You shouldn't be tempted by a deal, then find out that there are supplements and taxes to pay over and above that price.’