British holidaymakers are being “screwed” by booking sites

Venice

British holidaymakers are charged hundreds of pounds more than overseas customers by travel companies offering ‘unfair prices’ on UK booking websites.

In some cases, travelers have been asked to pay much more than those booking travel from other European countries, according to a report by software company NordVPN.

Vacationers were priced over £ 1,000 more if they booked a seven-night stay at Disneyland Hotel New York in December via the UK’s Disneyland Paris website instead of its French page. UK holidaymakers were priced at £ 6,562 compared to £ 5,406 in France.

The report also found that a traveler could save £ 573 by booking a 10-night Caribbean cruise via MSC Cruises’ Italian website. It was over a fifth more expensive on the UK version of the page, with Italian bookmakers paying £ 2,765 compared to £ 3,338 in the UK.

Booking.com charged £ 293 less on its Spanish website for a seven-night stay at Venice’s Carnival Palace Hotel in February, quoting a price of £ 1,576 for Spanish tourists versus £ 1,869 for those in Britain.

Tui’s German site charged £ 2,807 for a 14-night stay at Hotel Riu Palace in Tenerife next June, £ 339 less than the UK equivalent.

Experts said prices could vary based on how much consumers were willing to pay in different territories. Exchange rates and local taxes were also a factor in the amount charged to consumers.

Marijus Briedis, of NordVPN, warned that shoppers should never assume they are showing the same prices as everyone else.

“Companies use all kinds of complex algorithms to satisfy the purchasing power of different countries,” he said. “They will regularly show different prices on different website domains and may even differ depending on where you are visiting.

“The factors most likely to affect the price you see are your location, your repeat visits to the website tracked by cookies, and whether your search coincides with a home school vacation.”

Vendors seemed to charge higher fares even for short trips: a family of four who crossed the canal in October, from Portsmouth to St Malo, received a quote of £ 430, £ 48 less via Brittany’s French website. Ferries, NordVPN said.

Prices were checked on UK and foreign company websites on multiple dates in August and September. Prices were converted from local currency to pound sterling based on that day’s exchange rate.

Jane Hawkes, a consumer activist, urged consumers to hide their position in order to access the lowest prices.

“For those who aren’t tech-savvy, try browsing online using the ‘incognito’ option,” he said. “This means that your browsing history will not be tracked and you will find that supplier prices go down. It can cost a couple of hundred pounds less.

Ms Hawkes said sealing a low price is particularly important as the pound is relatively weak compared to rival currencies.

He said: “The pound is also weak, which means your money may not extend overseas. This is another circle that consumers have to overcome. “

A spokesperson for Brittany Ferries said the server location and internet activity did not affect the prices its customers pay.

He said: “Brittany Ferries offers four websites, one for each of the countries it serves: a website in the UK (where tickets are priced in pounds) and French, Spanish and Irish websites (where tickets are priced in pounds). in EUR). All four websites are available to all customers, wherever they are in the world. “

Tui declined to comment. Disneyland Paris, MSC Cruises and Booking.com did not respond to a request for comment.

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