Travel booking company FlightHub Group Inc. reached a $5-million settlement with the Competition Bureau of Canada after an investigation into the company's marketing practices.
The Competition Bureau said FlightHub made millions in revenue from charging hidden fees and misled consumers about the costs and terms associated with various services.
“We have pursued this case relentlessly to ensure that Canadians would be protected against any further deceptive marketing by FlightHub and its directors," commissioner of competition Matthew Boswell said in a statement Wednesday.
FlightHub operates two websites, FlightHub.com and JustFly.com, that allow people to book flights and hotels. Among other practices, FlightHub allegedly increased prices after consumers selected a flight and actively concealed fees it charged for seat selection, the Competition Bureau said.
The agency also said FlightHub gave consumers the false impression that they had more extensive cancellation and rebooking rights than they did. The agency noted that it reviewed thousands of consumer complaints about the company over the course of its investigation.
Christopher Cave, FlightHub's chief executive officer, said the company disagrees with the Competition Bureau's conclusions about its business practices, saying its transparency level with customers was on par with industry standards. Cave added that the company has now resolved the Competition Bureau's concerns about its practices.
The Competition Bureau began a formal investigation into the Montreal-based company in 2018. FlightHub has about 100 employees in the Montreal area, Cave said.
In addition to the $5-million penalty for FlightHub, two company directors, Matthew Keezer and Nicholas Hart, agreed to pay penalties of $400,000 each, the agency says.
FlightHub was granted creditor protection by the Quebec Superior Court in May 2020, a factor the Competition Bureau said it took into account in reaching the settlement.
"Finalizing this agreement with the Canadian Competition Bureau was the last major issue to resolve prior to emergence from our ongoing restructuring process," Cave said in a statement.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021.
Jon Victor, The Canadian Press