Posted by , . Filed under Hidden Costs.

Note: The hotels.com example shown below was logged in August 2010 and is now out of date – they have since updated their UI and they are no longer employing the hidden costs dark pattern. (April 2011)

As you can see in the screengrab below (August 2010), hotels.com clearly states the prices of hotel rooms on search results pages.

Hotels.com search results: note the first item is priced at “per room per night £187? (Screengrab taken Aug-2010, since superceded with improved design)

 

The screengrab above clearly shows the first item priced at “per room per night £187?. Let’s see what happens when I try to make that booking, below…

Hotels.com: note that additional costs have appeared. (Screengrab taken Aug-2010, since superceded with improved design)

Wow, I’ve been hit with over £50 of unexpected fees (see “extra guest charges”, “taxes” and “fees” in the right hand column). it’s not very easy to notice – in a hurry I’d probably just click through and pay regardless. It’s interesting to see Bob Diener, president of Hotels.com, quoted in the New York Times (2003): ‘Mr. Diener said it would not make sense for his site to show the final price first, “because consumers know there’ll be taxes added on. […] When they’re ready to purchase, they’ll see the taxes anyway. […] It’s very easy to see. It’s just another click away.”‘