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Half of all UK travel sites break the law, says OFT

Daniel Thomas
Almost half of UK-based travel websites make potentially misleading claims, which breach four different sets of consumer regulations, according to an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading.

The investigation, part of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network Sweep, found that 54 out of 135 UK-based websites analysed contained claims, that could mislead web users.

Claims being investigated under the Control of Misleading Advertising Regulations include:

  • “Hot deals” on a front page that bear no resemblance to the prices of the holiday actually available on the website.
  • An advertisement stating “Australia from £599”, when the cheapest price was £891.60.
  • A claim of  “up to 70% discount off worldwide hotel rooms” with no further mention of any savings or discounted deals.

More than 100 additional potential breaches of consumer legislation were identified under the E-Commerce Regulations, Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations, Package Travel Regulations and Distance Selling Regulations, the OFT said.

UK-based sites identified as making potentially deceptive, misleading or false claims (and/or who have breached other consumer laws) are being pursued either by local trading standards or the OFT with a view to taking further action.

OFT chairman John Vickers said, “The internet is a valuable and expanding resource for consumers and for business. Online shoppers must have the same protection afforded by the high street, and if traders breach fair trading law, the OFT will pursue them.”

 


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