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Recently, several tourist sites have been accused of “unfair and deceptive practices” and condemned by the commercial court. Before buying a hotel service on the internet, you are therefore advised to be particularly careful because there are also illicit practices vis-à-vis the consumer . What are they and what precautions to take?
The inability to withdraw
Purchases can sometimes represent very large sums and you can find yourself engaged in just a few clicks. You do not benefit from a right of withdrawal when you buy hosting services on the internet. Once committed to the online service provider and the payment made, you are definitively committed and can only be reimbursed if you have taken out specific insurance or if the service provider offers it to you. This is why it is advisable to be particularly careful for a purchase of this type on the internet.
One of the illegal practices on sites selling travel or hotel reservations is the lack of information aimed at misleading the consumer. This missing information is very often the absence of mention of the total price of the service, that is to say including the service including all taxes as well as the costs. It is also the subordination of the sale of the main service to that of additional services, such as travel insurance. Indeed, the insurance option is pre-checked without it being clearly explained that in order not to subscribe to this guarantee, the box must be unchecked. There is also the lack of use of the French language on all administrative and information documents relating to the trip.
Some sites falsely advertise that hotels are full in order to refer consumers to other hotels that were their partners and remunerate them. This practice is illegal. Some sites have also been condemned.
There are also “false reviews” from consumers that have appeared on many travel sales sites in particular. These are false messages that are left by professionals posing as consumers satisfied with the services offered. It also happens that the sites present a false classification: number of stars not corresponding to their real classification or even display of prices different from those actually practiced. The owner of the establishment takes certain liberties with the obligations that are legally imposed on him.
What precautions to take?
It is first useful to check on several sites in parallel the prices offered for the same trip or a reservation in the same hotel. In addition, when you book on the site of a small hotel, it is advisable to check that it is the right price because the site is not always updated and the service may not correspond to the price indicated. It is therefore more prudent to make the reservation by telephone.
Can I turn against these sites?
If you are a victim of illegal practices, you can contact the Departmental Directorate for the Protection of Populations (DDPP). This will take into account the complaints filed in order to carry out investigations and possibly to prosecute the site in question. You can also contact the tribunal de grande instance to request reimbursement of the service and compensation for the damage suffered.
Société d’Avocats DAMY , Nice, The illicit practices of hoteliers on the Internet; 2022 Update