ACCC Is Cracking Down On Drip Pricing From Travel And Entertainment Websites

One day on the internet, the price you're advertised might just end up being the price that you pay. The ACCC is part of an international crackdown on drip pricing, the practice we're all too familiar with where a website will show you one price when you start a booking, but by the time you're entering your credit card details, you'll see a bunch of extra fees and charges.

Concert image via Shutterstock

Over the last year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has been punishing companies like Ticketmaster and Ticketek for drip pricing, but Airbnb, Jetstar and Virgin have also been in the crosshairs in recent months. The move is intended to make online pricing more clear for anyone buying concert or plane tickets, or booking accommodation either locally or internationally, to make sure that the prices that are advertised across the 'net — especially on search pages like Google and the landing pages of these websites where attractive deals are often posted — are actually realistic.

Ticketmaster and Ticketek, for example, were slapped on the wrist for adding 'processing', 'handling' and 'delivery' fees on top of online ticket prices, although these fees were entirely unavoidable. Airbnb had a mandatory Service Fee and Cleaning Fee, when selected by the host, that were not disclosed before the booking process started. There's no excuse for these fees not being clearly stated upfront, but the internet is a wild place, and that's what we need the ACCC for.

You can find a bit more on the ACCC's tips and guidelines around drip pricing here. [ACCC]

  • Be aware of misleading drip pricing practices when shopping online for services, particularly in the airline, ticketing, accommodation and vehicle rental sectors.
  • Shop around and be aware that you may need to pay more than what was advertised. Consider ALL the charges together. Don’t just focus on the advertised price – the cheapest advertised price may not be the cheapest final price.
  • Be prepared to back out of the transaction, especially when you start to encounter additional charges.
  • Look out for pre-selections and make sure you reject anything you do not want to purchase. Thoroughly check your booking before you make any final payments.

Questions, comments, tips? You can find me on Twitter at @csimps0n.


Comments

    That would be amazing!

    The ideal world is a huge fine for any company that advertises a price that under no circumstances you can get.

    Culprits I've noticed are mandatory seat selection fees on Jetstar, and Ticketek's charge to have tickets "delivered" to a mobile device (or .PDF). All small amounts, but it really annoys me when they aren't included in the overall price as there is no free alternative.

    Honourable mention for Flight Centre, they charge a 1% fee for paying by card, you can avoid it by paying cash, but when you pay for flights / hotels / cruises through them (honeymoon next year) that card fee gets up to $100 pretty quickly, which is ridiculous in the 21st century as card payments are the industry standard payment.

    Last edited 24/11/15 11:37 am

      to be fair to Flight Centre, 1% doesn't seem too far off from what their bank charges them + their margins can't be all that great on international flights. They must be making a killing on cruises though.

        Yeah look if that's what they get charged then fair enough for passing it on, as I mentioned you can pay cash to avoid the card fee as well.

    Having been booking a bunch of accomodation/events for an upcoming trip to the US, it has been infuriating when hit with added fees once you start going through payment processes.

    Edit: not looking forward to dealing with the taxes/tipping side of things either.

    Last edited 24/11/15 11:49 am

      It's so confusing as some places quote with tax included and some without!

      Plus each state charges different amounts!

      Good luck!

    Never understood why I have to pay $7 to print my ticket off. Im looking at you ticketek

      It's stupid as I think it costs the same if you get your ticket posted as well?

    I've gotta pay $6865 for a visa, but as the bloody government only takes credit card payment, they hike the price another 1.99% to $7001

    I really don't think it's appropriate to offer only one form of payment and the penalise me for using it!

      $7K for a visa? must be a business / permanent type thing. I thought it was not legal to only offer one type of payment that also has a processing fee - don't they have Bpay or similar?

        Yeah I think it's partner permanent, it's gone up ridiculously, I paid $3000 for it in 2013.

      Maybe this is relevant to you https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa/Fees/how-to-pay-for-an-application

      there's BPay and cheque (if you're applying for Australian Visa)

        Interesting - I wonder if the immigration agent we're using isn't telling us the whole truth!

      I look at that number and wonder whether it's because there's something extra -- taxable or financially reportable or notable about that $7K figure. Like having to report when you take more than $10,000 in currency out of Australia.

        Nah none of that. Immigration have some pretty large visa fees - There's a permanent visa for overseas parents of aus citizens that cost about $40,000 per parent.

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