Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What You See (Isn't Always) What You Get

A study by the European Commission has found that at least 200 airlines are guilty of misleading the cutomer over their advertised prices. Airline websites were found to be failing to show taxes and charges, and refusing to advertise the lowest fare prominently, according to the report.

The Commission has not named any airlines involved in order to give them time to improve their service, but could force offending websites to close next year if they don't sort the matter out.

Fifteen different national airline authorities across the EU took part in the exercise for one weekend at the end of September. They examined 400 websites, and found half were not complying in one way or other with EU law. Among the misrepresentations over taxes and charges they also found "free" flights that were not free and compulsory purchase of insurance attached to an offer

The Commission's study found that Belgian airlines were the worst offenders, with 46 of the 48 Belgian websites surveyed breaking consumer guidelines. Meanwhile, Austria was the best performer, with none of the 20 Austrian airline websites judged to be misleading.

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