Trade Practices

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USA: airlines fined for violating advertising rules

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in separate cases assessed civil penalties against Continental Airlines and US Airways for violating the Department’s rules prohibiting deceptive price advertising in air travel. A review of Continental’s website revealed instances in which the carrier failed to include fuel surcharges in its listed fares. US Airway’s homepage advertised fares to Rome for $659.

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USA: DOT issues new passenger rights regulation

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued a final rule to improve the air travel environment for consumers by:

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ECJ: Advocate General gives opinion on advertising entry-level prices for travel and tourist services

Swedish travel company "Ving Sverige" had advertised New York trips in newspaper ads, indicating an entry level price only. In his opinion of Feb. 3, 2011, Advocate General Paolo Mengozzi held that indication of an entry-level price would only fulfil the information requirements of Art. 7 of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (2005/29/EC) if indication of the actual price was

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Switzerland: Federal Court decides in hotel "star war"

The Swiss Hotel Association started using one to five stars as symbols for hotel categorisation in 1979. In 2005 it registered according trademarks with the Swiss Trademark Register. GastroSuisse, another trade association of the Swiss hotel and gastronomy industry, could not reach an agreement with the Hotel Association on cooperative classification and thus decided to establish its own classification system also based on star symbols.

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Germany: extention of previously announced early booking discount period not misleading

Defendant, a tour organizer organizing packages for children announced on his website an early booking discount of EUR 25 for a particular package if booking was made until March 31, 2009 latest. He then extended this period to April 17 and on Arpil 21 announced that the discount will be granted for every booking until April 30. However, even after the latter date defendant went on granting the discount. A costumer was told that this was because of favourable acquisition prices which were unexpectedly still available and which defendant wanted to pass on.

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Canada: new time share law to come into force in Alberta

To keep pace with the changes in how vacation ownership products are structured, marketed and sold, Alberta provincial government has adopted Regulation 105/2010, also known as the “Time Share and Points-Based Contracts and Business Regulation”, to replace the “Time Share Contracts Regulation” as of November 1, 2010.

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Belgium: judicial review of airlines' contractual conditions

The Belgium consumer association Test-Achats claimed that the websites and contractual conditions of three airlines - Brussels Airlines, Ryanair and EasyJet - were incompatible with Belgium's fair trading legislation which inter alia implements EU Directive 2005/29 on unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices.

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UK: Office of Fair Trading to investigate hotel prices

After months of lobbying from a discount website, the UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has started an investigation on whether some hotels have put pressure on third parties to raise their rates. Hotel rooms are often sold through websites at rates far lower than those offered by travel agents or the hotels themselves, because these websites operate on lower profit margins.

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Sweden: reference for ECJ preliminary ruling with regard to advertising entry-level prices for travel and tourist services

Ving Sverige AB, a Swedish travel company advertised New York trips in newspaper ads, indicating an entry level price only. The Swedish consumer ombudsman (Konsumentombudsmannen) sued for unfair competition as he regarded it necessary to indicate a specific price whereas advertising an enty-level price only was misleading.