B**king No!

Open Letter to Alex Chisholm, Chief Executive of the Competition and Markets Authority

Dear Alex,

It will have come to your notice that Booking.com has finally agreed to stop price fixing in Europe, five years after the matter was brought to the attention of your competition authority (CMA).

According to the EU this concession by Booking.com may have come too late. It notes that Booking.com has achieved such an advantage in that time we may have already reached the “point of no return”.

I’m sure you don’t need reminding, but for the sake of my readers I’ll draw your attention back to the fact that the CMA attempted to assist Booking.com’s price fixing strategy.

In 2014, the CMA very nearly managed to enshrine price fixing in law by rubber-stamping a proposal by Booking.com that was so irrational it begged belief. Indeed, it was only because two travel agents took the matter to appeal that this proposal didn’t make it into the market and assist Booking.com further.

I must also remind you and my readers that the CMA not only sought to defend its position in court but also tried to pervert the course of justice by willfully withholding what the tribunal later termed “crucial evidence”.

Whilst I don’t want to distract attention away from Booking.com, which to this day deceiving customers with its Best Rate Guarantee, nor Expedia and Intercontinental Hotels, which persist with their price fixing strategies, I hold the CMA responsible for allowing Booking.com to get to the position that it was able to assert undue dominance over the hotel industry to the detriment of the consumer.

For all that, I don’t want to rake over old ground other than to draw people’s attention to the fact that the CMA was instructed by the tribunal to reopen its case against Booking.com. There’s no evidence that has happened in the six months since the order was made.

Whether or not that’s legal in itself, I am aware that the CMA is due to update the case in May and I trust that it will rule in favour of the consumer this time to restore the reputation of your competition authority.

Kind regards,

Dorian Harris
Founder, Skoosh

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