Issued By
West Yorkshire Trading
Standards Service

International Internet Sweep

This quarter saw the execution of a multi-agency International Internet Sweep, which focused on adverts and claims made by the travel industry. The International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) agreed upon this topic at their annual meeting, held in Sydney September 2002. Recently concluded work saw a number of agencies, including West Yorkshire Trading Standards, conduct a worldwide review of web pages, which target the travel industry.

Several aspects were looked at, particularly:

Different Trading Standards Authorities throughout the UK were given different words and search engines to use to ensure the widest possible search was performed and duplication was minimised.

Using the words ‘Flight’ and ‘Package’ on the search engine “Google”, 45 deals were investigated on 13 web sites. The offer or advert was pursued until the farthest point of completion, without actually booking the holidays, to assess the accuracy of the advert.

Martin Wood, West Yorkshire’s Chief Trading Standards Officer said,

“We were particularly looking for hidden costs not declared in the advert and deals that looked too good to be true. Out of the 45 deals investigated, 58% were found to be inaccurate and some were found to be misleading. One flight deal to New Zealand was advertised at £737, but was only available at £2620. On the plus side, some great offers were available, but unfortunately the inaccurate ones outweighed these deals. Those that were found to be inaccurate are being referred to the Trading Standards Authority from whose area the claims were made.”

Councillor Graham Clarke, Chairman of the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee added,

“The results from all agencies taking part in the sweep are still being collated and digested. This will give us a good measure of the level of compliance against legislation throughout the industry worldwide. By raising awareness and educating consumers West Yorkshire Trading Standards wishes to tackle issues within this industry at grass roots level, a second sweep is planned for later in the year, obviously we’re not saying when!”

For further information contact:

Paul Cooper, Divisional Trading Standards Officer, Tel: 0113 289 8240

Graham Hebblethwaite, Divisional Manager/ General Media Contact, 0113 289 8218

Garry Parker, Trading Standards Officer, Tel 0113 289 8245