Online sales techniques by travel agents, airlines and associated travel companies will be changed in light of new measures outlined in a consultation in the Consumer Rights Directive published today.
The measures seek to ban opt-out tick boxes, which automatically add ancillary services to purchases if not checked or overlooked by the consumer. It also seeks to prevent companies using premium rate numbers for consumer queries.
Consumer Affairs Minister Norman Lamb said: “Many people will have been ripped off at some point by hidden online charges while booking a holiday, premium rate helplines when returning a purchase or disproportionate and often unexpected charges for paying with credit or debit cards.
“The Consumer Rights Directive will put an end to certain bad business practices and help consumers make well-informed decisions when buying products or services. It will also boost business confidence, setting out clearer rules and responsibilities and cutting red tape by reducing compliance costs.”
Some customer campaign groups have criticised the consultation for not tackling excessive credit and debit card payment fees, however the Government said this would be addressed in a separate consultation.
Although the charges have not been directly dealt with, dozens of airlines were forced to change their pricing policy to include debit card surcharges in their headline price following a ‘super-complaint’ by Which? magazine and enforced by the Office of Fair Trading.