By Philip Blenkinsop
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission said on Friday that Booking.com had committed to end “manipulative techniques” on its travel site, such as time-limits for making bookings and misrepresentation of discounts.
The EU executive and the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets have been in talks with Booking.com for the past year and accepted commitments the company made to bring its practices in line with EU consumer law.
“As a market leader, it is vital that companies like Booking.com meet their responsibilities in this area,” Didier Reynders, EU commissioner for justice and consumers, said in a statement.
Booking.com said it had voluntarily worked with the Commission and the group of national consumer groups to make commitments benefiting EU consumers.
“But ultimately Booking believes in clear legislation and standards that apply to everyone in the industry, in order to create a level playing field and consistent standards for consumers,” it said in a statement.
Booking.com would make the changes by June 16, the Commission said.
These include making clear that “last room available!” bookings referred only to Booking.com offers. The company would also stop presenting offers as having a time limit if the same price applied after the time limit expired.
The company should also ensure offers presented as discounts represented genuine savings, display the total price in a clear way and clearly indicate if accommodation was offered by a private host or a professional.
Reynders said the Commission and national consumer authorities would continue to monitor all online travel sites to ensure fair treatment for consumers.
(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop and Marine Strauss. Editing by Jane Merriman)