Get­ting away with it all

Sunderland Echo - - Consumer - ALEX NEILL

We all love a bar­gain and web­sites which make a busi­ness out of of­fer­ing us cut price deals on ev­ery­thing from beauty treat­ments to bungee jump­ing know that all too well.

Af­ter all, who can re­sist the idea of get­ting a few pounds knocked off - es­pe­cially when it comes to high-price ticket items, such as hol­i­days and week­end breaks?

How­ever, a re­cent Which? in­ves­ti­ga­tion has found that a third of hol­i­days ad­ver­tised on the UK’s three big­gest dis­count vouch­ers sites - Groupon, Wowcher and Liv­ing So­cial - are not all they’re cracked up to be.

Some web­sites are ad­ver­tis­ing low prices that no longer ex­ist, along with hol­i­days that can’t be booked. Worse, some of the deals weren’t even in the places ad­ver­tised.

That’s bad news for con­sumers - and bad news for these dis­count sites too which rely on high lev­els of cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion and word of mouth to keep peo­ple sign­ing up.

Our re­searchers found six deals on the three sites and con­tacted the re­spec­tive travel agents given by the sites to check prices and avail­abil­ity.

Some were no longer avail­able de­spite still be­ing ad­ver­tised, and in other cases ad­di­tional sup­ple­ments were reg­u­larly be­ing charged - in­deed with one Groupon deal we were asked for an­other £200 per per­son to book a hol­i­day we thought we’d paid for.

One of the worst deals was a two-night, five-star spa break in Lis­bon ad­ver­tised on Liv­ing So­cial for £99 per per­son - but our re­searchers dis­cov­ered that there was no spa, the ho­tel was 15 miles out­side Lis­bon and they still wanted an ex­tra £30 sup­ple­ment.

An­other deal on Groupon was ad­ver­tised as be­ing in Venice when in fact it was miles away on main­land Italy.

It is re­ally easy to think that voucher sites are of­fer­ing great deals - we all can get sucked in, but the old maxim of “if a deal looks too good to be true, it prob­a­bly is” gen­er­ally ap­plies.

This sec­tor re­ally needs to up its game and only of­fer gen­uine deals which cus­tomers can book - and it cer­tainly should not be ad­ver­tis­ing false in­for­ma­tion about where hol­i­days and ho­tels are re­ally sit­u­ated.

Re­mem­ber to email me your con­sumer ques­tions askalex@which.co.uk

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