The European Union is aggressively pursuing online travel agencies that sell airline tickets under false pretenses. A new report by EU authorities reveals that 1 in 3 Web sites have been written up for “misleading advertising and unfair practices” since last fall. You don’t need me to tell you we have the same problem over here. But where’s our government?
I haven’t seen anything — not from the Federal Trade Commission, not from the Transportation Department — that indicates the federal government is paying this kind of attention to what is clearly also a problem stateside.
The EU actions, reported by Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva, involved 15 EU national authorities as well as Norway. It shows that there are “serious and persistent consumer problems” throughout the European airline industry. Of 386 Web sites, 137 were followed up with enforcement action over the last 7 months for breaches of EU consumer law.
By comparison, the latest FTC actions are practically devoid of any travel-related activity, even though travel is the ninth-biggest complaint category. And the Department of Transportation let sites that sell airline tickets off the hook a few years ago with this little-noticed ruling.
Considering how much criticism the American government is getting for cozying up to its airline industry, isn’t it time authorities reexamined their role in protecting the taxpayers that fund their agencies?
Isn’t it time for them to start … doing their job?