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EU improves travel websites for consumers - 23/04/2014

Person booking a flight online with credit card © istockphoto.com

Checks on travel websites significantly improve compliance with consumer rights, with 62% now abiding by EU rules.

One in 3 internet users in the EU now book travel and accommodation online, with the number expected to grow in the future. To ensure travel websites are treating consumers as they should the Commission, together with national authorities, carries out regular checks on such websites across Europe.

In 2013 authorities found that 382 of 552 travel websites were in breach of EU law. 173 websites have since been updated and corrected, whilst 209 are subject to ongoing proceedings and 6 have closed down.

Problems identified

The main problems discovered were:

  • failure to provide mandatory information on the trader’s identity, particularly its e-mail address
  • no clear instructions on how to complain
  • misleading information about the final price
  • failure to show optional price supplements on an “opt in” basis.

Administrative or legal proceedings will continue for websites which are still not compliant. Other practices in the travel sector are also being reviewed to ensure that consumers have all the relevant information and can make informed choices.

Tips for consumers

  • Make sure the trader provides its name, location and e-mail address, and where necessary the contact details of the carrier airline or hotel
  • Check you have all relevant information, e.g. the route, timing, airline and hotel location
  • Check the final price, including any additional charges
  • Print or save a copy of the contract terms. Be aware that you may not be able to cancel your booking free of charge - or, indeed, at all - depending on the cancellation policy
  • Report any problems immediately to the contacts provided.

If you need further help, contact a consumer organisation or the appropriate national authority. If you have a problem with a trader in another EU country, you can also contact your local European Consumer Centre for assistance.

EU citizens also have specific rights when it comes to travelling, so don’t forget to consult the dedicated website on passenger rights, or download the app.

Press release: Greater compliance with consumer rights on travel websites

Questions & answers - Survey of travel services

Results of online travel booking survey

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