Watchdog probes hotel booking sites with concerns they are scamming customers

Sarra Gray
Hotel booking sites accused of misleading customers (Source: Getty)

The UK’s competition watchdog has launched an investigation into hotel booking sites, looking at concerns they are misleading and prevent customers from finding the best deal.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) claimed 70 per cent of people use booking sites when searching for hotels, and said it is “prepared to take enforcement action” against sites leaving holiday-makers with a bad deal.

The investigation will assess whether these sites pressure customers into booking too quickly by saying how many other people are looking at the room and how many rooms are available at a certain price.

Hidden costs such as tax and booking fees will be explored, as well as discount claims on the sites to see if fair comparisons are given and sites don’t compare higher weekend rates with weekday rates.

Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, said: “Sites need to give their customers information that is clear, accurate and presented in a way that enables people to choose the best deal for them.

“We are concerned that this is not happening... That’s why we have started our investigation - to get to the bottom of these issues, see whether sites are breaking consumer law and make sure they help, not hinder, people searching for their next hotel room."

Today, the watchdog has reached out to companies across the sector to get a better understanding of their process, and is encouraging customers and hotels that have used booking sites to contact them and share their experiences.

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