Intercontinental Hotels has been rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority for advertising hotel rates exclusive of VAT despite an admission by the ASA that many other hotels exclude the tax in their advertised prices.
The ASA upheld a complaint from a consumer that London room rates featured on hotel booking websites crownplaza.com and ichotelsgroup.com were misleading because they didn't include the tax.
Underneath each price, text stated "(Excludes VAT)".
IHG had argued that it had been a long-standing and widespread industry practice for hotels in London to display VAT-exclusive prices, largely due to a global trend of displaying hotel prices exclusive of the tax.
It also said it was hard for it to display VAT-inclusive prices for all its hotels as the majority were owned by third parties and managed by franchisees.
The ASA said it understood that many hotels in London displayed their prices exclusive of VAT but it said the CAP Code clearly states that VAT-exclusive prices may only be given if all to whom the price claim was addressed paid no VAT or could recover the tax.
It told IHG to ensure that all prices for rooms in their UK hotels were advertised inclusive of VAT.
By Linsey McNeill
Thursday, May 24, 2012