Lastminute.com warned by watchdog over 'misleading' pricing

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Lastminute.com has been warned that its deals must be available to consumers at the time they are advertised following a complaint about "misleading" pricing.

A woman complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that she was asked to pay an extra £70.77 on a September 15 deal for a £569 hotel and flight package to New York on the grounds that the price was no longer available.

Lastminute.com said the products it offered were "dynamic" as it relied on a global distribution system for information on up-to-date airline and hotel availability, which could change at any time during the booking process.

The website said it always offered customers the option not to proceed with the booking if it was no longer suitable for them.

The ASA said consumers would have understood the ad to mean that £569 was the total price they would pay for the flight and hotel package, notwithstanding the cost of any optional extras.

"However, approximately an hour after making a booking request for the package at the quoted price, which included making the payment, the complainant was informed that the price had increased and they would need to pay an additional sum of £70.77 in order to maintain the booking," the ASA said.

"Because the package was not available at the price quoted in the ad, we concluded that the price statement was misleading."

The ASA told lastminute.com "to ensure that they could demonstrate that holiday packages were available at the prices for which they were advertised at the time they were seen by consumers".