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Monday, February 12, 2007
UK warns travel companies over hidden charges and misleading advertisements
The United Kingdom has decided to take tougher action against holiday and travel companies which jack up the price of trips with hidden charges.

UK's Office of Fair Trading says it expects companies to clean up their act and change their advertising within three months, or they will possibly be taken to court for breaching consumer protection laws.

The pledge, issued with the full backing of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), aims at ending the bane of misleading pricing.

A spokesman of the Office of Fair Trading said: "They are getting three months to change their advertising. We expect any new advertising to comply straight away. Under the Enterprise Act 2002, we can go to court if we feel consumer protection laws are being infringed."

"As a last resort, erring holiday and travel companies will be taken to court. We will use these powers if we receive further evidence after that three-month period," the spokesman said.

Holidaymakers, who are fed up with hidden charges, often find that some fixed non-optional costs are not included in basic advertised holiday and travel prices. These include fuel supplements, which can add up to £65 a person to the price of a flight or holiday.

ABTA members sell 90% of foreign package holidays in the United Kingdom. The organisation's code requires it to show clear and transparent pricing.

But, more recently, the law has not been enforced on airlines and companies outside of ABTA membership, which meant that ABTA members were put at a commercial disadvantage, it claims.

The Office of Fair Trading now expects all holiday and travel suppliers, including non-ABTA members and airlines, to ensure that they include all fixed non-optional costs in their basic headline prices.

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