Which? probe unearths non-existent last minute deals

Only one in 10 last-minute holiday deals were available, an investigation published today by Which? Travel found.

The consumer watchdog researched more than 140 late holiday offers online for seven-day holidays but found that nearly half were not available.

Sometimes the advertised date or price was not there when clicking through from the offer.

In some instances “mysterious” supplements were added while on others the initial price increased on the booking page, according to the report.

Another third of offers appeared to be available after clicking through from the opening page but extras were automatically added further along the booking process.

The initial price could only be obtained by removing the ‘extras’ and going on holiday with no luggage or transfer from the airport.

“Shockingly, we could only get the holiday on the date and price advertised – without removing pre-selected extras – for one in 10 of the offers,” Which? Travel said.

“This is not how online holidays advertising is supposed to work, as guidelines issued for the travel industry earlier this year made absolutely clear.”

The organisation checked 142 deals over four weeks, looking for seven day holidays for two people.

The investigation followed a series of rulings by the Advertising Standards Authority involving 15 complaints being upheld relating to hidden charges in the year from April 2012.

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