A trans-Tasman alliance of consumer groups is taking aim at the airlines over automatic opt-ins that can see travellers paying up to 67% more than the advertised price when booking flights.
Consumer advocacy groups CHOICE and Consumer NZ have joined forces to campaign against the practice, inviting consumers to send a message to the CEO of one of the worst offenders – Jetstar.
“We think Jetstar’s CEO David Hall needs to hear from consumers. No matter what side of the Tasman you’re on, this practice is shonky,” says Matt Levey, Director of Campaigns & Communications at CHOICE.
“Websites shouldn’t be designed to trick consumers into paying for extras that they don’t want or need. From pricey travel insurance to $5 seat selection fees and sky high baggage tariffs, Jetstar has you cornered.”
“Jetstar’s auto options will leave you travelling $36 lighter on a typical flight from Sydney to Melbourne – hardly a great start to your holiday. Making matters worse, the insurance Jetstar auto selects is far from the best value in the market,” says Mr Levey.
“It is time that Jetstar follows Qantas and Air New Zealand and puts a stop to this dodgy practice.”
Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin says “Jetstar is now the only major domestic carrier in New Zealand that still has optional extras preselected, with Air Zealand bowing to pressure from the New Zealand Commerce Commission earlier this year to remove its preselected travel insurance.”
“Jetstar’s practice of pre-ticking boxes for optional extras risked misleading customers on both sides of the Tasman into paying for services they didn’t want.
“Jetstar’s booking process marks it out as a prime offender in New Zealand and Australia for pre-selecting optional services. In both markets, it uses the same sneaky practice of ticking boxes for travel insurance, seat selection and extra bags. It’s high time Jetstar stopped confusing its Kiwi and Aussie customers and ditched the ticks.”
The campaign comes on the back of research from CHOICE showing that over 26% of travellers have experienced problems with booking travel online. Problems include unexpected fees, difficulties booking and wrong preferences delivered.
Travellers can send a message to Jetstar’s CEO David Hall and ask him to ditch the ticks here: http://choice.good.do/
Table 1: The cost of pre-ticked boxes: A Sydney to Melbourne flight with preselected optional extras left selected.
|Luggage||Free – 23Kg included||$17 for 20Kg||Free – 23Kg included||$20 for 20Kg|
|Seating – Standard||Included||$5 to choose a seat (free for randomly assigned seats)||Included||$5 to choose a seat (free for randomly assigned seats)|
|Final price (with preselected boxes left ticked)||$129||$91.95||$122.95||$93.95|
|Difference between advertised and final price||$0||$36.95||$13.95||$34.95|
|Percentage difference between advertised and final price||0%||67%||13%||59%|