Marie-Hélène Beaulieu, Jannick Desforges, Stéphanie Poulin
Every day, air carriers use the national daily press to advertise airline fares at very tempting rates, which, unfortunately, do not coincide with what consumers actually have to pay. To the advertised prices must be added other costs, often referred to as surcharges by the airlines. Reference to these costs is in small, sometimes very small print, and the amount of these extras is not spelled out anywhere, though it is often quite substantial. Many Canadian consumers are unhappy with this situation and have filed complaints, in particular with the Air Travel Complaints Commissioner. To get a better grasp of this problem and propose remedial action, Option consommateur has conducted a study in two main parts. First, there was legislative research on the rules governing airline advertising in Canada, as well as in France, the United States and Australia. Secondly, a portrait was drawn up of certain advertising practices used by airlines. To do this, Option consommateur inventoried the airline advertising appearing in the first three weeks of February 2005 in certain daily newspapers in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. The objective was to make a particular analysis of the requirements placed on consumers by the airlines in order to obtain a ticket at the price advertised (for example, purchase of a round-trip ticket), the spread between the overall price paid and the price advertised, the explanatory notes added in the fine print of the announcement informing consumers that there were additional charges and the size of font used for these notes.
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French (PDF document)
OCA Funded ResearchThis research received funding support through the Office of Consumer Affairs' Contributions Program.
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Source: Consumer Policy Research Database