BUDAPEST: Hungary’s competition watchdog on April 28 imposed a record fine on online travel agency Booking.com, accusing the company of “aggressive” sales methods which put unfair pressure on customers.
The Netherlands-based firm was fined €7mil (RM33.03mil) for unfair trading practices, said the Hungarian Competition Authority (GVH).
The body said free cancellation options for some listings were available only with conditions and within certain periods, making them “misleading”.
The website also put “unfair psychological pressure” on consumers to book accommodation quickly by flagging how many rooms were left at the advertised price or how many others were looking at the same option, GVH said.
The fine, calculated from the firm’s Hungarian revenue, is the country's largest-ever penalty for infringing consumer protection rights, according to local media.
Booking.com said it was “disappointed” by the decision, in a statement sent to AFP.
“Customer data and feedback shows that the information on our platform is extremely helpful for travelers,” it said.
“Everything on our website, including how we display prices and payment policies as well as the availability and popularity of specific properties,..., is intended to help customers,” it added. – AFP
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