On February 17, 2014, the Italian Competition Authority fined for a gross amount of € 1,050,000 (€ 850,000 to Ryanair and € 200,000 to EasyJet) for the lack of transparency of travel insurance policies offered during the on line purchase of air-tickets and for the obstacles created in case of refund.
These fines have been established by the Authority at the conclusion of two distinct procedures of unfair commercial practices.
Regarding the lack of transparency of travel insurance policy, the Authority ruled that both Ryanair and EasyJet Infringed the Italian Consumer Code, because they did not supply adequate information and give misleading information. For the Authority, both companies did allow consumers to make an informed choice when they acquired the insurance policy, which covered risk of travel cancellation.
In particular, according to the Authority, during the on line reservation process, the effective risks covered by the insurance policy were not clearly indicated, while they were knowable only reading the full conditions of contract through a link. In addition, the sum of deductible excess, that was very high in proportion to the cost of ticket, was not immediately clear; it was not explained that refund did not cover taxes and airport charges.
For the Authority, these omissions can mislead consumers on the same kind of insured risks, thereby causing them harm such as to take a transactional decision that they would not have taken otherwise.
Moreover, the Authority considered unfair, cumbersome and misleading the terms and conditions set out by Ryanair due to the mechanism imposed to consumers in order to select the no-purchase option of the travel insurance policy.
Related to the limits to right of refund, the Authority considered unfair commercial practice the fee requested by both air companies to issue the certificate declaring that the consumer had not made use of the transport service, that was necessary to obtain a refund of the expenses encountered.
The Authority gave Ryanair 30 days’ time to communicate the initiatives to remove this unfair behaviour.In the case of EasyJet, the Authority has taken into account the changes made during the administrative procedure both to the information provided to consumers in the on-line booking process and to the refund procedure: consequently, a lower fine has been applied.