ABTA reports Ryanair to OFT over online bookings

RyanairRyanair has been reported to the Office of Fair Trading by the Association of British Travel Agents over threats to cancel all bookings not made on its own website. But the airline, a serial OFT offender, has dismissed objections made by consumer groups as “hilarious”.

The Irish carrier has taken a zero-tolerance approach to “screen scraping”, the process of taking content from one website and offering it on another.

Ryanair says it breaches its copyright, gives customers false information, uses up bandwidth on its own site and costs customers extra when the agent takes its cut.

Earlier this month, Ryanair took out injunctions against two sites in Europe, and says that, as of this week, all bookings made by screen scrapers will be cancelled.

ABTA says many of its members are angered by Ryanair’s stance and adds that its complaint to the OFT is from a consumer perspective.

“How can any airline justify threatening or canceling customers bookings for such spurious reasons, especially at the height of the summer,” says an ABTA spokesman.

Ryanair says that it has been reported to a number of bodies across Europe, but that it found most of the complaints “hilarious”.

It is not the first time Ryanair has been reported to the OFT. Earlier this year ABTA accused Ryanair of “fobbing off” the OFT over “misleading” ads for 1 pence flights (MW Feb 28) and in April the ASA referred Ryanair to the OFT for “persistent failure to abide by the Code of Advertising Practice” (MW Apr 4).
The OFT has the power to pursue legal proceedings against the carrier.

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