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Commission probes hotels, tour operators

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European Commission opens e-commerce investigations
The European Commission has launched three separate investigations to see if online sales practices are stopping consumers from benefiting from cross-border choice in hotel accommodation, among other products.
“E-commerce should give consumers a wider choice of goods and services, as well as the opportunity to make purchases across borders,” Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said.
The investigations focus on practices where “we suspect companies are trying to deny these benefits for consumers,” she added.
The three cases concern the hotel accommodation, consumer electronics and video games sectors. More specifically, the commission is looking into whether companies are breaking EU competition rules by unfairly restricting retail prices or by excluding customers from certain offers because of their nationality or location.
Following complaints from customers, it is investigating agreements on hotel accommodation concluded between the biggest European tour operators on the one hand (Thomas Cook, TUI, Kuoni, REWE) and hotels on the other hand (Meliá Hotels).
While saying it welcomes hotels developing and introducing innovative pricing mechanisms to maximise room usage, the commission says that hotels and tour operators cannot discriminate customers on the basis of their location.
The agreements in question may contain clauses that discriminate between customers, based on their nationality or country of residence. As a result, customers would not be able to see the full hotel availability or book hotel rooms at the best prices.
Although more and more goods and services are traded over the internet worldwide, cross-border online sales within the EU are only growing slowly, the commission points out.
TTG Nordic

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