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Screenscrapers inflate cost of airline tickets

[August 27th 2008]

Budget airline Ryanair is defending its decision to cancel tickets booked through some screenscraping websites to the European Commission.

Ryanair has provided evidence of how four screenscraping websites have inflated its tickets prices by up to 370%. The evidence shows how inflated the price of a ticket by 205%, by 260%, by 150% and by 370%.

Ryanair has taken action against these screenscrapers in order to stop them selling its tickets. However, it is believed that about 500 airline passengers have had their tickets booked through these sites cancelled.

Last week the European Commission wrote to Ryanair asking the airline to explain its position. “Have you taken steps to declare any tickets invalid? If so, on what grounds were the tickets declared invalid? Did invalidation concern commercial resale and which third parties were affected? How and when were passengers informed about the invalidation?” the EC asked in its letter.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has expressed his disappointment at the EC’s stance: “It is remarkable, but unsurprising, that a number of European Government agencies and the European Commission has sought to blame Ryanair for blocking the illegal activities of these screenscrapers, instead of tackling the real consumer scandal which is the hidden 200% or 300% mark ups being levied and over-charged on innocent consumers by these illegal screenscraper/ticket-tout websites”.

Ryanair has also explained to the EC that as it is the only airline to operate with a lowest price guarantee, this guarantee becomes invalid if screenscraping websites are adding a mark up of 200 to 300%.

The low cost airline accuses the screenscrapers of unauthorised and illegal access to its website, breaching its terms and conditions of travel and of use, and of not providing consumers with accurate details of its pricing.

This story is likely to rumble on, and Holiday Extras will keep you updated as new developments emerge.

Written by: Nick Purdom

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