The company kontakt.pl, which offers, among other things, the sale of holiday trips, is to pay a fine of over PLN 1 million for showing outdated or incomplete offer prices, the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection announced on Wednesday. The company’s representatives do not agree with the office’s allegations.
UOKiK reported that the prices presented in the portal’s offer list in many cases did not agree with the prices given after clicking on the offer details: they were higher or lower.
As he pointed out, these prices often did not include the mandatory contribution to the guarantee fund or were historical prices. In the opinion of the office, this resulted in distorted search results: some offers should have been placed in different places in the ranking of the cheapest offers, while others may not have been visible.
When browsing and analyzing search results on the website, consumers did not receive reliable and comparable information about tour prices, said the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection.
Consumers without reliable information?
He emphasized that the so-called Listings are intended to enable consumers to compare offers without the need to analyze and verify each offer separately. As a result, consumers did not find offers that would meet their criteria, the Office said.
“For using an unfair practice, Wakacje.pl was fined by the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection with a financial penalty of over one million zlotys (PLN 1,060,138). The President of the Office ordered the company to discontinue the questioned practice,” the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection said.
Monitoring of the holiday.pl website, carried out by the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection during the proceedings, showed that “the problem of price differences concerned at least 40% of the verified offers.” As an example, the Office stated, among others, that the price of a 7-day holiday offer for Cuba for one person in the search results was PLN 7,127, and after expanding the details of the offer – PLN 8,475.
According to the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, Tomasz Chróstny, current and complete prices should be displayed on websites and offer search engines so that the consumer does not have to verify the actual cost of the trip. As he emphasized, the entrepreneur running the website is responsible for the transparent presentation of offers and therefore, in accordance with the law, he must be sure that the price includes all mandatory fees and provide them at every stage when informing about the costs of the trip. – You cannot expect that the consumer will be suspicious of the information provided to him, just as you cannot allow the offer search engine to mislead consumers – said Chróstny, quoted in the release.
Proceedings also against other companies
The office added that proceedings are also being conducted against the travelplanet.pl portal; explanatory activities cover tour operators (a person or organization that creates and sells tourist packages – ed.), including: Nowa Itaka, Coral Travel, TUI and Rainbow Tours. Information about the decision will appear on the entrepreneur’s website and on his social media profiles. The Office noted that the decision is not final and the company may appeal against it.
“The Management Board does not agree with the arguments adopted by the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, which was the basis for the decision to fine Wakacje.pl. Wakacje.pl is a website that collects and presents the offers of nearly 100 travel agencies. The President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection held Wakacje.pl responsible for the differences in the prices of the offers of these agencies. , which may appear between the price displayed in the search results and the price visible in the detailed offer view,” the company said.
It was added that the company will appeal against the decision of the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection and will take further legal steps. In the company’s opinion, the Office omitted the fact that the holiday.pl portal, as a travel agent, presents prices sent by travel agencies and “does not influence their level at any stage”. It was pointed out that travel agencies themselves should, in accordance with applicable regulations, send current prices to intermediaries, including kontakt.pl.
According to Dariusz Górzny, the president of the company nazwa.pl, in the proceedings “we were held responsible for something that we have no control over.” “There is no action that Wakacje.pl could perform on its own to eliminate these discrepancies,” he emphasized.
Marcin Małysz, president of Exim tours, quoted in the statement of the management board of nazwa.pl, noted that changing one component in the holiday offers database affects the price of many offers, and their database must first be updated in the organizers’ internal systems and then exported to travel agencies in Poland. He noted that “this process is simply ongoing.” “The way the Wakacje.pl portal operates is no different from how other, similar platforms operate in Poland, as well as in Germany or Great Britain,” Małysz said.
Vice-president of Grecos Holidays, Janusz Śmigielski, quoted in the company’s statement, explained that prices presented in reservation systems “are constantly changing due to the dynamics of filling places in hotels and planes.” He added that due to the amount of data, the process of updating prices in the systems takes time and cannot always be done in real time. “However, when making a reservation, the system always confirms the current price,” emphasized Śmigielski.
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