‘Misleading’ travel websites targeted by consumer watchdog

The UK government has been urged to strengthen the policing of travel websites to clampdown on the sale of misleading holiday components.

The call comes from the Consumer Alliance in Travel, which warns that the Civil Aviation Authority’s flight-plus proposals under a revamp of Atol consumer protection rules do not solve the problem.

CAT founder and chief executive John Fosbery wants the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills (BIS) to improve the policing of holiday websites across the board.

He said: “The current industry system is totally misleading to the consumer. Retailers can be a bit-seller and not provide any packaging rights.

“CAT wants to make people aware of their rights, and help them make informed decisions when  booking travel. In my opinion, all the big name online travel agents have unclear T&C’s that allow holidays to be bought like a package, but don’t offer the same protection.”

“The Department for Transport and CAA is alive to the problem but their new Atol proposal, flight-plus, can make life more complicated by not focusing on packages.  A new strand of Atol Flight-Plus looks OK on paper but gives little clarity if they are not in packages.”

He added: “There needs to  be proper dialogue between the two government Departments – BIS and DfT – and BIS should take the lead as the main body for consumer affairs. We  want better and wider consumer clarity than the government is advocating.”

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