ACCC Targets Drip Pricing In Travel, Tourism And Leisure Sectors

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The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has joined an international initiative targeting online pricing issues in the travel, tourism and leisure sectors, sweeping a range of websites and apps for conduct known as “drip pricing”.Involving over 50 consumer agencies around the world, the web surveillance is part of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network’s annual internet sweep.

Drip pricing refers to when “a headline price is advertised at the beginning of an online purchasing process and additional fees and charges (which may be unavoidable or applied in most transactions) are then incrementally disclosed (or ‘dripped’)”.

The ACCC notes that the result of drip pricing can be “consumers paying a higher price than the advertised price, spending more than they realise and making it more difficult to compare offers”.

A range of websites and mobile apps offering online bookings for services such as flights, accommodation, cruises, ferries, trains, buses, vehicle hire, car parking and entertainment ticketing are being looked at as part of the sweep.

“Since the ACCC began its work on drip pricing, a number of businesses in the travel, accommodation and ticketing industries have adjusted their online pricing practices to improve disclosure of fees and charges,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard stated.

“Today’s sweep may identify further websites and mobile apps which need to improve their pricing practices.”

Rickard noted that additional fees during an online booking process “should be adequately disclosed as early as possible in the process”.

“When all providers of online booking services are truthful and accurate in their pricing representations, consumers can feel more confident in their online and mobile transactions and make informed purchasing decisions,” she commented.

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