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Online shoppers face 500% price hike at checkout

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Online retailers are using teaser rates to entice customers then bumping up advertised prices at the check out by as much as 500%, according to new research.

Consumers pay up to five times as much as the advertised price for train tickets, flights, hotels, car hire and personal loans because of the popular online marketing technique of adding fees and charges to the final price, research from Shawbrook Bank found.

A mystery shopping exercise found consumers could pay up to 428% more than the advertised price for train tickets, 527% more for flights and 183% more for personal loans.

Eight in ten people surveyed said they felt cheated by brands that use teaser rates and three-quarters said the tactic left them frustrated.

A psychologist has dubbed this “FrOMO” or the Frustration of Missing Out on advertised prices.

More than half of the 2,000 people polled said they wouldn’t recommend a company that used this technique.

Honey Langcaster-James, a psychologist who has appeared on Big Brother and Love Island, said: “In life we tend to feel let down by anyone who over-promises and under-delivers. If this happens on a repeated basis then we start to become angry and frustrated and in worst case scenarios this experience can sever a relationship. Essentially, this is what is happening when brands constantly tease prices before increasing them when we decide we want to make a purchase.”

Paul Went, product and markets director at Shawbrook Bank, said: “FrOMO clearly has a major impact on how we shop and what we think about the brands who subject us to it. It has made the process of shopping for holidays, flights, hotels, train tickets, car hire, tickets to gigs or sporting events and personal loans difficult and complicated. All too often getting the product or service you want can feel like a battle and that isn’t the right kind of relationship we want to foster with customers.”

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