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Travelocity fined for violating fare advertising rule

July 27, 2012|By Hugo Martin
  • Travelocity has been fined by the U.S. Department of Transportation for violating a price advertising rule.
Travelocity has been fined by the U.S. Department of Transportation for… (Travelocity.com )

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

The home of the roaming gnome faces a stiff fine.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Friday that it has fined  Travelocity $180,000 for violating a federal full-fare advertising rule. The Texas-based online travel agency has a bearded lawn gnome as its mascot.

Prior to Jan. 26, online travel agents and airlines were required to include all extra charges and fees in the advertised fare with the exception of certain government taxes. A new rule that took effect Jan. 26 required that advertised fares include all extra taxes and fees.

The Department of Transportation said an investigation in September, 2011 found that Travelocity's website sometimes did not include fuel surcharges in the advertised price of airline tickets until Travelocity customers selected an itinerary.

In addition, Travelocity did not inform customers on some itineraries that a paper ticket was required for a minimum price of $29.95, the agency said.

"Many consumers choose their flights based on price, which is why we require all airfare ads to include the full price consumers will pay," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.

In response, a Travelocity spokesman said the travel agency disagrees with the fine but plans to pay it to settle the charges.

"We have always sought to provide consumers with full and accurate fare information, even as airlines add new surcharges,” said spokesman Joel Frey.

For the record, 4:15 p.m. July 27: A previous version of the post suggested that Travelocity violated a federal rule that took effect Jan. 26. The violations applied to a federal rule that was in place before Jan. 26.

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