MEP Jim Higgins has urged consumers to become aware of the practice of airlines and car rental companies storing their online search history in order to ascertain how interested they might be in a particular product.
The North West MEP said that a consumer who is interested in a particular flight and is keeping an eye on it by checking the price several times over a week or two, will often find that the flight increases.
“I was shocked to find that if you check the same flight from the same computer, the price of the flight goes up. If you check it from a neighbour’s computer or your smartphone, the price will often not have been increased.
“Consumers should check prices from different IP addresses in order to be sure they are not being conned,” said the MEP, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee.
He said that car rental companies also track individual consumers’ history in order to ascertain which cars and locations a consumer is interested in.
“Sometimes the price is increased to put pressure on the consumer to book now and not wait any longer. Other times it is put up to take advantage of a consumer that is clearly interested in a particular flight or car rental.
“The key point for consumers to remember is that the increase in the price of a flight or car rental does not necessarily mean that there is decreasing availability.”
He said that double-checking using a different IP address could, for example, save a consumer hundreds on a family holiday, adding he would be raising the issue with the European Commission.
“I do not think it is fair, and it should not be allowed to continue.”