European Commission accuses Disneyland of overcharging Brits

One of world’s most famed theme parks, Disneyland Paris, under investigation by European Commission over complaints from British and German visitors that they were overcharged

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

German and British consumers booking holidays at Disneyland Paris are reportedly being charged more than French visitors, and the European Commission is looking into the issue.

The Commission is engaged in a what it calls a broad probe into “geoblocking,” or the practice of charging different amounts to consumers in different countries for the same product or service.

It has been reported that at Disneyland in Marne-la-Vallee, outside of Paris, Disney was charging French customers €1,346 ($1,474) for a premium package, while British visitors were charged €1,870 ($2,048), and German clients paid €2,447 ($2,680), according to a report in the Financial Times on Wednesday.

A European Commission spokeswoman on Tuesday said she had received several complaints about alleged discriminatory pricing at the theme park. The Commission has formally requested that France investigate the complaints.

A spokesman for Disney told the media on Tuesday that the practice was seasonal and not based on consumer locations.

"The European Commission and European consumer centers frequently receive consumer complaints involving unjustified differences in treatment on the grounds of nationality or residence," the spokeswoman said.

"Too often, consumers seeking to buy services or goods in another member state are prevented from getting the best price," the spokeswoman added.

Removing internal barriers of this type in the single market can only help companies, Forrester Research analyst Thomas Husson said in a note published on Wednesday.

However, some companies maintain that different pricing in different markets is a usual practice, intended to maximise returns.

The Commission has come out strongly against geoblocking as part of its effort to forge a single digital market in the EU. The practice is seen as a significant trade barrier.

On July 23, the Commission said in a statement that it had sent a "Statement of Objections" to Sky UK and six major US film studios - Disney, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros.

The Commission said it “takes the preliminary view that each of the six studios and Sky UK have bilaterally agreed to put in place contractual restrictions that prevent Sky UK from allowing EU consumers located elsewhere to access, via satellite or online, pay-TV services available in the UK and Ireland".

It added that geoblocking of this type violates EU anti-competition legislation.

A European Parliament report calling for an end to geoblocking was adopted on July 10 by a large majority. However, the parliament in June rejected proposals for complete harmonisation of copyright laws, supporting the continuation of national protection for intellectual property.

Further action on geo-blocking is expected from the Commission in the next two months.