Saturday, 3 August 2013

Deceptive practice or just confused tourists?

So you're in a French motorway cafe on poor internet connection with a dying laptop battery looking for a place to camp for three nights...

You find this campsite CAMPIX that seems to fit the bill; it's to the north of Paris giving you access to the motorways for the Channel ferry ports and Parc Asterix which you want to visit next.

This looks good: tent 7 euros + 28 euros for 4 people + 4 euros for electricity per night = 39 euros per night. You click on the booking tab provided by which is managed by

You enter the dates of the nights you want to stay to and from. Staying the nights of 29th, 30th, 31st August is 3 nights is it not? Note the boxes you fill in on this site doesn't say arrival date or departure date. (I am using August to demonstrate as the site can't book in the past, my booking was 29, 30, 31 of July).

Now the first surprise: the tariff is not apparently 7 euros per night per person as advertised but 14 euros for the emplacement.

The charge for the electric was apparently to be 8 euros 

There was a 10 euro reservation fee though that fee was supposed to be waived for two or more night stays.

So it appeared to me was going to be charged 22 euros per night.

Note that the website says "unit price", which in English is usually the price before the multiplier is applied.

And not that it says "nightly based tariff" and shows what I presumed was to be the nights of 29, 30, 31st.

However I was mistaken.

Once you click 'confirm' this booking engine does not actually confirm anything. It responds with an email message that they are now checking availability. 

What I didn't notice in their email response below because I couldn't access it until much later on just before I arrived was that the dates I had given were now called the the 'arrival date' and 'departure date' so I had actually only booked for 2 nights. So the quote of 88 euros I was given which thought was for THREE nights was actually only for TWO nights. The correct quote should have been 117 euros. When I read the email - again on a sketchy internet connection - I was just glad I had a confirmed reservation. I did not go over the fine details, it all looked good to me, just as it was when I booked on the website.
Request :       Pitch 1/8 pers.

Extra options :       4 x Person (4 x 14 €)
     1 x Electricity 6 A (1 x 8 €)
Arrival date : 29/07/2013 Departure date : 31/07/2013Holiday price : 88 €Deposit : 29,5 €     of which 10 € booking fees
Payment by :    -  Credit card : € 29,50
On checking-in at Campix the receptionist did not print off my reservation, though I recalled mentioning that we were staying for three nights. The receptionist said they knew we had a reservation but we would settle up the bill on leaving, so we didn't catch the mistake there.

When we checked out on the morning of 1 August, I was presented with a bill not for the 58.50 euros balance I had expected but for 88 euros and also the Campix bill stated I had only paid 29 euros in advance, not 29.50 as per the confirmation email. So where has my 50 cents gone?

The breakdown of the prices per night, per person, that Campix gave me on my bill at checkout does tally correctly with their rate card on the Campix website; 39 euros per night for 3 nights is 117 euros but the booking engine that Campix uses did not present information with any conformity to their rate card nor use generally understood terms clearly.

I am not saying this is deliberately deceptive practice but it is confusing and confusion leads to misunderstandings and so increases the chances of consumer dissatisfaction. 

Campix should be aware that their sub-contracted internet booking service is letting them down on their otherwise good service and good facilities.

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