Watchdog probes hotel booking sites with concerns they are scamming customers

Visto de hotel en Sancti Petri en ChiclanaEUROPA PRESS  PATRONATO TURISMO

Visto de hotel en Sancti Petri en ChiclanaEUROPA PRESS PATRONATO TURISMO

The CMA also wants to understand the impact that these practices have on sites' customers so is calling on people that use them, and hotels that advertise with them, to share experiences which could be relevant to the investigation.

Hotel booking sites are to be investigated over concerns customers could be misled by hidden charges and claims of inflated discounts and high demand. The Authority stated that approximately 70% of people seeking accommodation make use of hotel booking sites.

For tips and tricks on how to get the best prices see our Cheap Hotels guide and Travel section.

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) welcomed the investigation, saying it had had "lengthy discussions" with the CMA about consumer transparency.

The CMA said it would investigate whether tactics such as showing a customer how many rooms were left, and how many other people were looking at the room at the same time, could create a false impression of room availability or rush customers into making a booking decision.

Even the search results could be affected, with some hotels coming up higher depending on the amount of commission paid.

They are also to look into hidden fees including taxes and booking charges to see if they are obvious to the consumer.

If any hotel booking sites are found to fall foul of the issues, they could be breaking the law and the CMA will then take action against them.

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Alex Neil, Which? managing director of home products and services said: "When shopping around to book a hotel, it's vital that consumers are confident that they can find the best deal for them".

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He said: 'Around 70% of people who shopped around for hotels past year used these sites and they should all be confident they have chosen the best accommodation for their needs and are getting a good deal.

"In today's increasingly busy world, sites like this offer real potential to help holiday-makers save time and money searching for their ideal getaway".

The hotel comparison sites sector investigation, follows recent work by the CMA to look at auto hire comparison sites, and comparison sites more generally.

HOTEL booking websites are under investigation after fears they could be misleading customers when it comes to getting the best deal.

Meanwhile, the CMA's Nisha Arora told BBC's Today show, "We are concerned about the clarity and accuracy of these sites".

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