Have you experienced the impact of changes imposed by the hotel booking giants?
Expedia and Booking.com are under scrutiny by the UK competition regulator over whether consumer-friendly changes to booking conditions due to the Covid-19 pandemic amount to an abuse of market power.
The online booking platforms have responded to the outbreak by varying their usual terms and conditions for consumers — for example, by allowing them to cancel hotel reservations without a fee.
The watchdog is already on the alert for negative effects from the coronavirus outbreak, having set up a Covid-19 taskforce earlier this month to monitor a broad range of providers of goods and services for breaches of competition and consumer protection law.
The hotel-sector case illustrates the challenges for watchdogs in effectively overseeing and regulating contractual disputes in business sectors as the outbreak’s economic consequences start to be felt.
CMA are being asked to look at whether Expedia and Booking.com‘s contract terms with hotel operators are unfair and illegal, and whether their actions are an abuse of their power.
The platforms have been changing terms and conditions so that bookings — including those that were non-refundable — are refunded to consumers without cancellation charges.
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