In the summer thousands of holiday deals appear online, tempting us all to treat ourselves to a break. We’ve been investigating these deals to find out if the price you see is the price you’ll pay.
Ever seen a late holiday deal with a rock bottom price shouting ‘From only £x!’ at you? I’d be surprised if you hadn’t. There’s plenty around at this time of year as the peak summer holiday season draws near.
When I see a ‘from’ price, I don’t always expect to get that price on the day I want. I understand that it will be available only on selected dates.
But I do expect that price to be available at some point. So when myself and my Which? Travel colleagues checked out more than 140 online holiday deals offered by leading holiday companies, I was surprised at how many of the promoted deals were not available at all.
Unexpected charge in the baggage area
We looked at late deals and special offers for seven-day holidays, and found that nearly half were not available. Often the ‘from price’ on the initial page was just not there when we clicked through to the list of offers.
Sometimes unavoidable supplements were added as we went through the booking process. For some holidays the initial price increased when we got to the payment page, and we even found unavoidable credit card fees being added at the payment stage.
We also found that another third of offers appeared to be available when we clicked through from the opening page, but then costs were automatically added for transfers, luggage or insurance. This should not be happening, as the Office of Fair Trading and the Civil Aviation Authority clearly told travel companies in March this year that optional extras should not be pre-selected in this way.
It meant the only way for us to get the deal at the initial price was to remove these ‘extras’ and go on a seven-day holiday with no luggage or no transfers to take us to and from the destination airport. This scenario even happened when a holiday was described as a package or ‘all-inclusive’, which could reasonably be interpreted as including luggage and transfers.
Impossibly tempting prices
All in all, we could only get the initial offer price, without having to remove pre-selected extras, for just one in 10 of the promotions we looked at.
I don’t think that’s right and it goes against the OFT/CAA’s legal guidance for travel companies. The guidance stated that advertisers should not display a price that is not the final price consumers are likely to pay.
I want to see holiday company pricing become more transparent. If a deal for a seven-day holiday does not include luggage or transfers, this should be stated at the outset. The costs for these shouldn’t be sneakily added automatically later on.
What’s your experience of holiday special offers and late deals? Have you ever got a deal for the original offer price?