Tuesday, August 25, 2009
As mentioned previously on the blog, see "DOT Pro-Consumer Crackdown," the Department of Transportation has been vigorous as of late in enforcing its consumer protection regulations. The latest target of the DOT's efforts is United Airlines:
This consent order concerns Internet advertisements by United Air Lines, Inc. that violate the full fare advertisement requirements specified in 14 CPR Part 399 and are considered to violate 49 U.S.C. § 41712, which prohibits unfair and deceptive practices. This order directs United to cease and desist from future violations, and assesses the carrier a compromise civil penalty of $75,000.
. . .
For a period of time, United advertised a number of fares on the "Special Deals" section of its website that did not contain appropriate notice of the amount or nature of additional taxes and fees that were excluded from the advertised fare at the first point in which the fares were displayed. Nor did United provide clear and conspicuous notice that the fares advertised required a roundtrip purchase. Instead, these fares were followed by a double asterisk that referred the reader to fine print below the group of advertised fares that stated "Each way fares based on required roundtrip purchase, plus taxes/fees." By failing to provide appropriate notice of the taxes and fees applicable to these fares and the roundtrip purchase requirement associated with the fares, United violated 14 CFR Part 399.84 and engaged in an unfair or deceptive practice and unfair method of competition.
See United Airlines, Inc., Violations of 49 U.S.C 41712 and 13 CFR 299.84, Dkt. No. OST-2009-0001, Consent Order (Aug. 25, 2009), at 1 & 2.