Trade Practices

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USA: Metropolitan Museum of Art sued over admissions fee policy

A class action has been filed against the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA) alledging the MMA would deceive and defraud the public into paying a fee to enter the MMA, even though dmission was legally required to be free of charge most days of the week. A similar complaint had already been filed last November. ´The MMA states that it had never imposed an admissions fee, its admissions policy was agreed to by the City of New York and it was clearly posted and explained.

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German court: lessor of holiday apartment must include costs of final cleaning into the advertised price

The defendant advertised holiday homes at Germany's Baltic coast in the internet where he indicated prices per week. However, only at the very end of the advertisment additional costs of a "final cleaning" were mentioned. The court (Schleswig-Holsteinsches OLG) held that the advertisment was contrary to German pricing law which requires the indication of the final price including all costs, fees and taxes.

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USA: DOT fines Alitalia for deceptive practices

Following a complaint from two Alitalia passengers whose flights were canceled, the Department’s Aviation Enforcement Office investigated the carrier’s refusal to pay cash compensation to the passengers. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) now fined  Alitalia USD 125,000 for providing inaccurate information on its website regarding its policy on compensation to passengers on delayed and cancelled flights. 

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Germany: appelate court dimisses frequent flyer's claim against Lufthansa

The plaintiff took part in Lufthansa's frequent flyer programme "Miles & More" and had collected about 900.000 bonus miles until Lufthansa changed the terms regarding redemption of bonus miles. According to the new terms, the number of bonus miles required to receive a business class or first class upgrade had gone up 15 to 20 percent. The plaintiff regarded these changes unfair and void and therefore filed a law suit at the regional court in Colonia (LG Köln).

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Canada: new Air Price Advertising Rules

In December 2011, the Government of Canada announced that the Canadian Transportation Agency would develop regulations requiring all-inclusive air price advertising. These regulations are now published on Part II of the Canada Gazette.

The regulations support two key objectives:

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USA: DOT collected USD 3.6 M in fines for air passenger rule violations in 2012

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) said it levied USD 3.6 million in penalties for 2012 violations of the department’s consumer-protection rules for air passengers. The total is up from USD 3.3 million in 2011. During 2012, the Department issued 49 consent orders for consumer rule violations, the most recent two against Copa Airlines and Virgin America for not strictly adhering to the DOT’s rules for lengthy tarmac delays.

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USA: airlines to challenge DOT advertising rule before U. S. Supreme Court

Three airlines have challenged the Transportation Department’s new price-advertising rule nefore the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming that the DOT is violating the First Amendment by prohibiting airlines from advertising base prices net of taxes and fees. The airlines also claim that the DOT has been violating the Airline Deregulation Act by imposing unique requirements such as “the size of typeface and the length of mandatory refunds — in an industry that Congress expressly chose to deregulate.”

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USA: Federal Trade Commission requires hotels to disclose all mandatory surcharges

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned 22 hotel operators that their online reservation sites may violate the law by providing a deceptively low estimate of what consumers can expect to pay for their hotel rooms. According to the FTC letters, one common complaint consumers raised involved mandatory fees hotels charge for amenities such as newspapers, use of onsite exercise or pool facilities, or internet access, sometimes referred to as ‘resort fees'.

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USA: DOT fines Travelzoo for violation of Code-Share Disclosure Rules

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has assessed a USD 50,000 penalty against the online ticket agent Travelzoo for failing to properly disclose to consumers when flights were being operated under a code-sharing arrangement, and ordered the company to cease and desist from future violations.

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Canada: class action over expiring loyalty program points

On March 6, 2012, the Quebec Superior Court authorized a class action against Groupe Aeroplan Inc. relating to its decision to implement expiry dates on its loyalty program points (“Miles”). Under the new Aeroplan Terms and Conditions, if there is no activity in a member's Aeroplan account within a 12-month period, the Miles will expire. Accumulated Miles will also expire if they are not used within seven years of acquisition.