Lastminute.com misleading customers?

Angry customer on the phone

British newspaper The Times has reported that European travel company lastminute.com has allegedly been making extra money from customers by adding an insurance product to their bill

The product, Full Flex, is a form of cancellation cover that The Times claims has been added to travellers’ bills against their wishes. Customers have been complaining on internet chat forums that they have bought the product unintentionally.

ITIJ reached out to lastminute.com for comment. A spokesperson for the company told us: "Regarding the nature of the product, let us point out firstly that it is not an insurance policy but an assistance package offered to our customers allowing them to receive a voucher refund in case of voluntary cancellation at any time for any reason, according to the T&Cs shown during the booking flow.

We would like to highlight that the consumer is given the opportunity to purchase the product at multiple steps during the booking process in an opt-in method

“Most of the low airline fares are very restrictive in nature, meaning customers buying lowest fare tickets are normally not able to make any voluntary changes or cancel their tickets, with the Full Flex product we allow travellers to add flexibility to their restricted tickets rather than having to buy completely new tickets or pay premium fares for added flexibility, in case they no longer want to travel or need to make changes for any reason, no questions asked.

“With regards to how the service is offered on our website we would like to highlight that the consumer is given the opportunity to purchase the product at multiple steps during the booking process in an opt-in method, by specifically selecting this option to purchase. Therefore, a proactive action is required by the consumer to add the product or to continue without it, as the product is available only at the time of booking and cannot be added later. The consumer has a choice to select the appropriate button, not a ‘deselection’ process (opt-out) depending on the choice they make and no preselection is made by us on behalf of the customer at any stage.

“We would also like to point out that the terms and conditions of the product are clearly transparent, available and accessible during the booking flow and before the purchase is made. However, our focus is always to offer information that we deem valuable for our customers to help them make good purchasing decisions and we work continuously to optimise the experience on our website by testing and improving the way in which we present our services online; that’s why we always welcome consumer feedback to improve our product offering."