TripAdvisor Smacked With $80K Fine For Violating Fare Advertising Rule

TripAdvisor has fallen afoul of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s rule about fare advertising, resulting in a fine of $80,000. The rule went into effect in January, and stated that ticket agents and airlines must display fares as the total of what a consumer will pay, taxes and fees included.

The L.A. Times says TripAdvisor’s website airfares didn’t include taxes and fees, with violations ranging from March to June. The DOT also found that TripAdvisor didn’t tell customers that tickets sold through a major carrier were actually on flights operated by a regional carrier through a “code-sharing” agreement.

TripAdvisor issued a statement saying:

“We were surprised by the Department of Transportation’s ruling that suggested consumers might feel confused or deceived in these matters. However, naturally we have made the Department of Transportation’s requested changes to be compliant with the regulations, including reducing the display of the base fare by two font sizes against the total fare in one placement in our search results.”

Allegiant Air and Spirit Airlines have also been fined for misleading consumers since the rule became official in January.

TripAdvisor fined for violating airfare advertising rule [L.A. Times]

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  1. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    However, naturally we have made the Department of Transportation’s requested changes to be compliant with the regulations,

    We was gonna change the fares,
    you know, to be in full compliance.
    We was just thinking we could take care of it right here, in Brainerd.
    you know, to be in full compliance.

  2. Blueskylaw says:

    “naturally we have made the Department of Transportation’s requested changes to be compliant with the regulations”

    TRANSLATED: We were breaking a law, got fined, and have now agreed to actually follow the law.

  3. Jacob says:

    I wish they would have a similar total price rule when it comes to displaying the price of a hotel. When you are searching for a hotel room, they’ll show you one price, but when you check out, they add on a mysterious “Taxes and Fees” charge. This charge varies by hotel, and I found that it ranges between about 8% and 200%. I assume the variance is because of the amount of sales tax, hotel tax, resort fees, cleaning fees, insurance fees that different hotels charge.

    It makes searching for a hotel based on a price to be quite useless because the final cost can be somewhat different.

    • SirWired says:

      Alas, hotels are state-regulated, not federally regulated, and state legislators have zero incentive to piss off a steady source of campaign contributions (hotel owners.) This is also why innkeeper liability limits are a colossal joke, not having been updated for inflation since the 20’s.

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      200%?! So, you book a hotel room for $100, and the final bill is $300? That would give me a stroke!

  4. who? says:

    Why does it not surprise me that Spirit Airlines has been caught in the same shenanigans.

  5. SirWired says:

    Errr… it was big news when the regulations were released, and the bit about displaying the total fare in the largest type wasn’t exactly buried in 500 pages of legalese; it was in pretty plain English.

  6. dicobalt says:

    I wish they would do this to cell phone companies.

  7. donovanr says:

    What is it about the travel business that nearly everyone seems to think it is OK to screw the customers as much as possible. Don’t any of these bozos realize that I will become a hugely loyal customer to anyone who offers me the best travel value. I would be fine with a travel agent who said, “We charge X fee per customer and get nothing back in payments or kickbacks. We just find the best deals possible.”

    A neighbour is a TA and she finds her extended family crazy deals over and over, these deals aren’t perks of her job just simply amazing deals.

  8. Steevo says:

    Why is the airline industry the only industry that can run ads for totally fake prices, that you *can’t* get?

    If Kmart tried doing that on a box of pampers the federal government would be suing them.

    But every day I get ads “Fares from $89.99″ but that fare is nowhere to be found. It maybe was two seats on a single flight at 1:AM from Duluth next December. But you *can’t get it* since it was only two seats.

    The rule should be if they advertise something they should have to sell that to all comers.