A major study of the online travel booking sector produced the worrying finding that some Singaporeans have been paying more than they bargained for when booking their trips. Optional items added on by default and inaccurate so-called discount deals are among the pricing and marketing practices found to be used on these websites, according to the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS). The commission has developed a set of guidelines on price transparency, essentially a list of "dos and don'ts" for suppliers of all consumer-facing industries relating to various pricing practices, in order to avoid misleading consumers. This is a welcome move since online travel booking players will now face a public more aware of its rights when making purchases.
The figures are not insignificant. Of the more than 500 consumers surveyed, more than 80 per cent reported facing a higher price than advertised at checkout for flight and hotel room bookings, largely for fees that were mandatory. Had they known about these fees beforehand, they would have weighed their purchasing options more carefully, deciding to go along with the charges only if they thought it worthwhile.