Time limited holiday deals have come under fire in an investigation by consumer watchdog Which?
The results released today (Thursday) found that holidaymakers are not always getting the best price when they book using time-limited holiday deals.
So-called ‘Hurry Deals’ entice potential customers with the prospect of huge savings for a short time only.
But in 43% of the adverts reviewed, Which? found some of the holidays were available at the same or lower prices after the sale ended, suggesting there was no need for consumers to hurry at all.
Which? found examples of deals where prices were cut after a sale period ended, and cases where short term sales were undercut by follow-up sales soon after.
It called on travel companies to stop rushing consumers into purchasing holidays when it might be in their interests to wait and research their holidays further.
Which? identified three practices that travel companies use that it claims are misleading:
• Extending deals beyond the advertised deadlines – for example, Reader Offers advertised for an Adventure of the Seas cruise at a saving of £500 if people booked before April 17. However the same saving was still available on April 26, nine days later.
• Cutting prices after the ‘hurry deal’ offer has finished – for example, an advert by Warner Leisure Hotels told people to ‘hurry book by May 1’ and ‘save up to 40% on selected summer 2012 breaks.’ However, on equivalent deals that appeared ten days after the discount was supposed to end, five prices had gone down even further.
• Repeating ‘hurry deals’ one after another – for example, Princess Cruises sent out an email encouraging consumers to book a ‘dream cruise’ in an offer ‘only available for five days’ and three and half weeks later started a six-day sale that offered even better prices on the same cabins.
Which? looked at ‘hurry deals’ advertised in national weekend papers over four weeks in April and May. In 13 of the 30 ads that used the word ‘Hurry’ or were a time-limited offer with a specific cut-off date, it found the same or better prices for some of the deals in the original ad.
Executive director Richard Lloyd said: “No one likes finding out that someone on the same holiday paid less for it. But it’s even worse if you bought your holiday in a rush because the ads told you the prices would be available only for a short time.
“It’s unacceptable that holidaymakers are hurried into making decisions that might not give them the best value for money.
“Travel companies understandably have to adjust prices up or down according to demand. But they shouldn’t kid consumers that the prices on offer won’t be around for long.”
* The full article ‘What’s the hurry?’, including travel company responses, appears in the July issue of Which? Travel magazine.
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