Anyone who has ever used the Internet to research holidays will understand Thomson’s frustration with retailers not including non-optional supplements and charges in their prices.
Tempted by an eye-catching low price you click your way through the booking process only to find the end price bears no resemblance whatsoever to the figure that originally caught your attention.
A quick glimpse of the full breakdown of the price reveals a bewildering array of supplements, surcharges and other costs that add up to make your supposedly cheap holiday not quite the bargain you expected.
The problem is, of course, not just confined to the Internet although the rules for online pricing are not as stringent as for non-web advertising.
Creative use of lead-in prices is rife and, although the public is not necessarily being fooled by these ‘too good to be true’ offers and fully expect to end up paying more, there is a growing feeling it is damaging the reputation of the industry.
TV programmes such as Watchdog have been making hay at the expense of travel companies for years – and to be honest, how can you blame them when the notion of ‘vague’ pricing seems an industry standard?
ABTA has decided to grasp this nettle, setting a deadline of Tuesday this week for members to comply with its existing code of conduct about misleading prices.
It is hoped and expected that the Office of Fair Trading will similarly crackdown on those retailers outside of ABTA’s control.
The solution is in the hands of firms that adopt these pricing strategies for competitive gain over their rivals. There just needs to be the will to stop it.
On a more sombre note, news of the abduction of three-year-old Madeleine McCann from a Mark Warner holiday complex in Portugal has shaken the industry.
This weekend 800 travel delegates will be flying out to Portugal for the second Triton Conference – their thoughts will very much be with the parents of the little girl.
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