The misleading promotional activities on Expedia Singapore's website has now halted, thanks to the competition watchdog, the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore ("CCCS").
BEX Travel Asia ("BEX"), the website operator of Expedia Singapore, has put an end to its misleading promotions after the investigation by CCCS about its unfair practices.
The "Daily Hotel Deals" and "Daily Package Deals" that BEX promoted are comparable to flash sales that are limited only for a time, as they were supposed to be valid for 24 hours and were to expire at 11.59 p.m. each day. These offers were posted on Expedia Singapore website and was sent directly via electronic mail to all its consumer subscribers on its mailing list.
According to CCCS's investigation last April 2019, it found at least 55 such promotional offers in the website that did not have any changes in prices or description and remained the same even after midnight. The CCCS is of the view that these promotions created a kind of urgency – one where consumers are pressured to make an immediate purchase without considering other factors in the decision-making.
It was also concluded by CCCS that these false claims breach the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act. According to the Singapore watchdog, the false advertisements and activities had been present on the website since 2016 until October last year, which is the month when CCCS warned BEX about the unfair activity.
Consequently, BEX Travel Asia now embarks on new ways of promoting its products. The website operator has undertaken not to engage in any further unfair practices. BEX also assures its consumers that its promotions will now be clear and truthful.
The CCCS, through its own efforts, regularly checks and monitors the consumer market for potential deceitful practices and misleading events that may affect both the consumers and suppliers. The Commission also states that where suppliers specify a time period during which a product or service will be sold at a discounted price, suppliers should state the time period for when the discount is actually valid clearly and prominently, and not make false claims or otherwise mislead consumers.
The accountability to fairly market products and services also applies to booking services providers.
Originally Published by GALA, December 2020
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