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Netherlands Consumer Authority fines Ryanair

The Netherlands Consumer Authority (CA) imposes a total fine of EUR 370,000 on Irish airline Ryanair for four violations that were found in its online booking system. Ryanair offered airfares on its website that did not include all foreseeable and unavoidable costs such as fees and surcharges that must be statutorily charged. In most cases, consumers thus paid considerably more than the airfares that were initially displayed on Ryanair’s website. This is in violation of consumer protection regulations.

Bernadette van Buchem, Director of the CA, reacts: ‘For consumers purchasing airline tickets, it is important that they know at the start of the booking process what they need to pay in any case. All costs that consumers cannot avoid paying should be included in airfares that are initially displayed. Any additional costs for extra services that consumers may want can be added during the booking process.”

Background

On its website www.ryanair.com/nl , Ryanair offers airline tickets to Dutch consumers. From various Dutch and international sources, the CA found indications that Ryanair did not comply with certain consumer protection provisions. For example, European regulations require airlines to include all foreseeable and unavoidable costs in airfares that are displayed on their websites. That is why the CA had launched an investigation.

The CA established four violations:

  1. Ryanair’s airfares displayed on its website did not include all foreseeable and unavoidable costs;
  2. The online booking process did not offer consumers the option to review the information they entered and to correct any mistakes before finalizing the booking;
  3. On its website, Ryanair fails to publish an email address, which makes it difficult to communicate directly with the company;
  4. Ryanair’s customer services is offered in English only, but this was not mentioned anywhere on its Dutch website.
  5. The fines for these violations total EUR 370,000.

Ryanair has already revised the booking process. Advertised prices now include all foreseeable and unavoidable fees and surcharges. In addition, it is now mentioned that customer service is offered in English. With regard to the violations that have not yet been ended, the CA has imposed three orders subject to periodic penalty payments in order to make sure that Ryanair revises its procedures soon. These penalty payments could run to a maximum of EUR 240,000 per violation.

The CA has identified untransparent prices in the travel industry as one of its focus areas in its Agenda 2012-2013.

Ryanair has the option of challenging this ruling by filing an objection.