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Italy fines Ryanair over fare transparency

Posting in Finance

Ryanair has fallen foul of Italian watchdogs and been slapped with a 400,000 euro ($521,200) fine over complicated online booking procedures.

The Italian Competition Authority (Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato) says that the Irish budget airline has failed to simplify online ticket sales, and that consumers are not given a crystal-clear picture of overall ticket prices at the beginning of the booking procedure.

When booking with Ryanair, an airline that is known for tickets as low as £15.99, users may not be aware of additional charges which bump up prices. Additional fees range from an "infant charge" (£30) to musical equipment fees (£50) to a name change fee (£110), plus check in and boarding pass printing fees, can all ramp up the total cost.

All of this can prompt confusion, and arguably may be misleading customers who think they are getting a better deal than they are. However, what really caught the competition watchdog's ire is the 2 percent processing fee introduced in the period December 1- February 7 this year. The fee is not added to the booking process until the end, and so the agency says that ticket prices should be "clearly and fully indicated from the very first contact with the consumer in such a way as to make the final price immediately clear."

Ryanair rejects the allegations and plans to appeal the decision. Last month, the airline was fined 370,000 euros for such "hidden" costs experienced by Dutch travelers who were booking their flights online.

Read More: Reuters

Image credit: Flickr

— By on April 22, 2013, 4:08 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure