Expedia has been ordered to clarify all non-optional hotel charges in future adverts after a complaint against the company was upheld by the advertising watchdog.
The action is being taken by the Advertising Standards Authority after a consumer complained about having to pay a $30 ‘resident fee’ per person, per night at a hotel in New York having booking flights and accommodation through expedia.co.uk
Expedia argued that the resident fee at the WestHouse Hotel was not included in the price because it was payable directly to the hotel on checkout and it was difficult to quantify and calculate an accurate fee for customers at the time of booking.
However, the company pointed out that fee applicable to the WestHouse Hotel was displayed in two places on its website − on the hotel details page and on the payments page under a link entitled “taxes/fees paid at hotel – details”.
Expedia said its approach of displaying resident fees was “consistent with market practice” in the UK and it believed the complainant would have been aware of the charge prior to completing the booking.
Upholding the complaint, the ASA said the advert stated that the trip included taxes and fees. However, the stated price did not include the resident fee.
“We considered that that amount (including tax) should have been clearly presented in US dollars alongside the price claim,” the SAS said. “Because that was not the case, we concluded that the ad was misleading.
“We told Expedia to ensure that price claims included all non-optional charges, and where those charges could not be included within the price, they were immediately and clearly presented.”