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Thursday, 7 March, 2002, 18:28 GMT
Travel brochures 'mislead' consumers
Trading Standards says that companies are breaching the law
Trading standards officers have warned holidaymakers to beware of additional charges which are concealed in the small print of travel brochures, and could add an extra 20 to a typical family holiday.

The Trading Standards Institute said that travel brochures fail the holidaymaker because they offer "no meaningful way of comparing" prices.

It would seem tour operators continue to be intoxicated by that heady cocktail of misleading consumers with a lack of transparent pricing

Bruce Treloar, Trading Standards Institute
The institute said that few consumers ended up paying the prices displayed in brochures when demand outstrips supply.

Operators regularly raise prices to reflect surges in demand, the TSI said.

The institute has threatened legal action against companies, after talks with leading tour operators broke down.

The TSI said that "fluid pricing", as it is known, breaches the 1992 Package Travel Regulations, as there was no accurate price in the brochure upon which consumers can rely.

Hidden extras

Some holiday companies have advertised prices in brochures without including airport supplements, ticket-on-departure and in-flight meal charges, and security and insurance supplements introduced since 11 September, according to the report.

So it was almost impossible for consumers to calculate the cost of their holiday, or compare prices between operators.

The report also said that holiday companies were making these extras a condition of sale and that some firms had been bumping up their prices, but then offering discounts.

Bruce Treloar, TSI Lead Officer, Package Travel, said: "It would seem tour operators continue to be intoxicated by that heady cocktail of misleading consumers with a lack of transparent pricing and trying to ensure... that consumers are presented with price supplements which they would normally expect to be included."

Trading standards officers want tour operators to consider a "maximum pricing regime" proposal.

This would mean that the brochure price would never be exceeded, but could be discounted.

See also:

18 Sep 01 | Business
What now for tourism?
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