Skift Take

Hiding a mandatory fee until the final purchase page never makes consumers happy -- especially when that fee bumps the total price up by 20%.

Nearly half of Britain’s major hotel chains have been accused of breaching regulations by not including VAT in their headline prices.

An investigation by Which? Travel magazine found that 11 of 24 hotelchains did not include the tax in the initial prices shown for some of their properties online.

Experts have warned that hotels which do not display VAT – which adds an extra 20 per cent to the cost of a room – are potentially in breach of consumer protection regulations.

The 11 chains which the magazine highlighted were Crowne Plaza, Doubletree by Hilton, Guoman, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Malmaison, Marriott, Mercure, Radisson Blu, Sofitel and Thistle.

Which? Travel found that several properties did not include VAT in the total price until the payment page of the booking process.

The survey was carried out following an Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) complaint that the VAT-exclusive prices on the websites of Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) and its subsidiary Crowne Plaza, were misleading and breached the ASA code.

The magazine said the ASA had ordered IHG to change its practices and had started a compliance action to get the entire UK hotel sector to adhere to the code.

A Hilton Worldwide spokesman told the magazine that the chain was changing its website so VAT-inclusive prices were displayed in countries where required by law.

A Mercure spokesman said that only one of around 70 of the chain’s UK hotels did not include VAT in its headline prices.

Hotel chains that did include VAT in the headline prices, according to the magazine, included Barcelo (now Puma), Britannia, Best Western, Days Inn, De Vere, Holiday Inn Express, Ibis, Jury’s Inn, Macdonald and Novotel.

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Tags: hotels, taxes

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