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.
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.
- 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.