April 28, 2020 / 4:09 PM / 3 months ago

Hungary fines Booking.com operator $7.6 mln for unfair practices

BUDAPEST, April 28 (Reuters) - Hungarian competition watchdog GVH has fined online reservation operator Booking.com 2.5 billion forints ($7.58 million) for unfair business practices, including misleading advertisements and psychological pressure on consumers.

The watchdog said in setting the fine it had taken into account the Netherlands-based company's fee income from the Hungarian market following a probe into the website launched in 2018.

"Booking.com B.V. has led unfair business practices by misleading advertisements claiming free cancellation for some accommodation as well as by exerting aggressive psychological pressure to facilitate faster bookings," the GVH said.

Booking.com did not immediately respond to emailed questions for comment.

The watchdog said the free cancellation option was available only for a limited scope of bookings and customers were also charged a premium for the option as Booking.com had built it into accommodation prices.

$1 = 330.03 forints Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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