This is how ‘cheap’ holiday booking sites could be misleading you

This is how ‘cheap’ holiday booking sites could be misleading you
Booking.com faces further criticism from watchdogs over the way it advertises rooms. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Booking.com is still misleading customers in spite of a crackdown by regulators, according to a new report.

The online holiday booking service was criticised over the way it ranks and displays rooms on its site by the Competition and Markets authority.

A review into the system was ordered over pressure-selling concerns, however consumer group Which? has claimed that Booking.com is still giving false accounts of the popularity of rooms.

Spot checks by Which? on a number of bookings websites earlier this year found that Booking.com, along with others, had used misleading discount claims, hidden charges and pressure selling tactics.

False availability claims

The watchdog found that around half of the Booking.com’s “only 1 room left on our site” claims did not accurately portray the availability of the rooms.

The Banjo B&B in Liverpool showed “1 room left” on a “budget double room”. However, when Which? Searched the site, it found there were four identical rooms for the same price of £49.

The offending sites were sent letters by the CMA in June this year, ordering that they cease the false advertisement of rooms in this way by September this year.

However in the case of Booking.com, Which? claims that the problems persist.

“We found clear evidence that Booking.com has not yet sufficiently cleaned up its act and is flouting the rules on pressure-selling, which could lead to millions of consumers being rushed into making a booking,” said Which? Travel’s, Naomi Leach.

“It must now provide cast-iron guarantees that it won’t continue to mislead holidaymakers with these unscrupulous practices. Otherwise, the regulator will have to step in with strong action to bring it into line.”

A spokesperson from Booking.com said, “At Booking.com we work continuously to bring transparency, choice and value to travelers, constantly testing and improving the way in which we present our services online.

“We have worked hard to implement the commitments agreed with the CMA and maintain continuing collaboration and dialogue to inform ongoing enhancement of the consumer experience.”