Buying a plane ticket online is still fraught with risk - a third of consumers are "ripped off or misled and confused", says EU report.
Half of the websites identified as misleading consumers or using unfair practices have been forced to clean up their act, the EU has announced.
Of the 386 sites surveyed (in 13 EU countries and Norway), 137 were penalised – but only half of these have made any improvements. A report just out shows that consumers buying air tickets on line still face 'serious and persistent problems'.
The sweep uncovered problems with ticket sales throughout the airline industry, explained consumer commissioner Meglena Kuneva, "I hope operators have now realised the determination of the commission to act on behalf of consumers where necessary" adding that if the airlines in question don't improve their sales and marketing practices by May 1, 2009, the commission "will have no choice but to intervene".
The investigation focussed on unfair contract terms, including, for example, sites which pre-select the more expensive options for you. The key findings are:
The EU wants to see the first price advertised being the final price paid, any limitations on special offers being clearly flagged, and fair contracts available in the consumer's native language.
Enforcement work will be stepped up, and the EU will monitor developments between now and May 2009 before deciding where it needs to intervene.