The European Commission announced yesterday that Booking.com and the Expedia Group have improved the presentation of their accommodation offers, aligning it with EU consumer law. The changes followed close dialogue with the European Commission and EU consumer authorities and concern information on promotional offers and discounts as well as influencing techniques. Consumers should now be better able to make informed comparisons in line with the requirements of EU consumer law. The agreement between the Commission and the two companies is part of an ongoing process in which the Commission works continuously to protect consumers.
Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, said: “I would like to thank the two companies for their cooperation. In view of evolving travel restrictions, I encourage all online travel service operators to follow this example and ensure that European consumers can trust their accommodation offers and easily find information on cancellation practices.”
Booking.com and the Expedia Group are now displaying more accurately:
- which offers are promoted;
- how payments received by accommodation providers have influenced rankings;
- how many people would like to book the same hotel for the same dates and how many rooms are left on the website;
- the total price the consumer will pay for the accommodation including mandatory fees and charges;
- price comparisons to ensure only genuine discounts are advertised as such;
- whether the host is a professional or a private person.
When engaging with the companies, the Commission stressed the need to ensure precise and easy access to cancellation practices as part of the response to travel disruption related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
National consumer authorities will now take further steps to hold the whole industry accountable to the same standards. Enforcers will liaise with European trade associations, online travel agents and hotel accommodation providers expecting them to adhere to the same principles and commitments as Airbnb, Booking.com and the Expedia Group.
The coordinated action to improve transparency for consumers using Booking.com started in the beginning of 2019 and was led by the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets. In December 2019 the Hungarian Competition Authority in coordination with the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets entered into dialogue with the Expedia Group. The two platforms made numerous changes to their websites and mobile applications which were checked by national consumers protection authorities. The changes are applicable on Booking.com and on the Expedia brands – Expedia, ebookers and hotels.com.
In July 2019, the platform Airbnb had already brought their services in line with EU consumer law.
The underlying legal framework is the EU Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation that links national consumer authorities in a pan-European enforcement network. On that basis, a national authority in one EU country can request the assistance of other authorities in another EU country to stop a cross-border infringement of EU consumer law.
The cooperation can be initiated to enforce EU consumer legislation, such as the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, the Consumer Rights Directive or the Unfair Contract Terms Directive.
Source: Booking.com and Expedia align practices with EU consumer law (europa.eu)
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