SINGAPORE - Jetstar Asia Airways has joined Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Scoot Tigerair in agreeing to stop pre-selecting travel insurance for consumers after the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) engaged the three airlines to be more transparent in their ticket pricing and booking process.
In a press statement on Thursday (Nov 15), Case said it reached out to SIA earlier this year upon hearing that it had implemented a feature to automatically add travel insurance to online bookings unless the consumer opts out, and later engaged Jetstar and Scoot on the same matter.
Scoot replaced the pre-selected travel insurance with an "opt-in" feature in February 2018 and SIA followed suit in May. Jetstar will implement an "opt-neutral" approach for travel insurance from October 2019, in which consumers will need to consciously select to either accept or reject travel insurance during the booking process.
Case noted that with the growth of e-commerce in the last decade, consumers encounter several challenges when shopping online, such as pre-ticked options that are added to their purchases without their express consent. The association highlighted that businesses should clearly present all information relevant to a sales transaction upfront to the consumer, and any additional free or paid goods and services should only be included with the consumer's express consent.
"In Case's view, failure to opt out of travel insurance should not be regarded as express consent as it is possible for some consumers to overlook that this option had been selected," Case said.
Case added that while Singapore law does not prohibit businesses from using pre-ticked boxes to seek express consent for additional payments from consumers, some overseas jurisdictions have measures against the practice. It cited the European Union as one jurisdiction that prohibits companies from using pre-ticked boxes for online transactions to infer consumers' consent for additional payments, dictating that they must obtain express consent from consumers instead.
"In view of the above, Case strongly encourages all businesses to engage in ethical marketing by ensuring that their consumers consciously agree to the purchase of goods and services by taking clear affirmative action," it said.
"Meanwhile, consumers are advised to look out for pre-selected options when shopping online. They should also remember to thoroughly check through their online bookings or shopping carts for extra charges before making any payment."