Is Screenscraping Legal? Ryanair Versus Bravofly

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Creative Commons License photo credit: mattbuck4950

Out-Law had an interesting article yesterday about how Ryanair is taking a Dutch fare comparison website to court in Ireland for screenscraping.

If I understand rightly, Ryanair’s case hinges on whether or not the terms of use of their website count as a contract; they say they do whereas the scrapers argue that they don’t.

There are lots of similar price comparison aggregator sites like Bravofly out there and a few of them may be getting worried at this. Most of the time companies are quite happy for their product information to be scraped in this way because it can generate more business, but Ryanair and Easyjet seem to be against it. Why? Could it be a PR stunt?

As an aside, it’s interesting to read in the same article that big players Lastminute.com and Expedia.co.uk have also allegedly been using screen-scraping (and have been asked and/or warned not to by the low-cost airlines).

Comments

  1. Press release

    The main reason why customers choose Bravofly is because of its ease of use and its ability to compare various offers from airline operators.

    Following Ryanair’s statements accusing Bravofly of conducting illegal sales of Ryanair flights, Bravofly explains the complete legitimacy of its activity, which guaranties users the possibility to compare flight offers and to choose the best option for them.

    July 28th, 2008 – Ryanair has accused Bravofly, the leading online search engine in Europe that allows users to compare and to buy flights offered by the most important airline companies, of committing illegal acts due to the way in which Bravofly presents Ryanair’s flight information on its website and because it allows users to buy tickets directly on Bravofly’s website.

    These accusations have no foundation.

    Bravofly provides a wide array of services and gives its users the possibility to:

    1) find information and available flights for required routes (flight time, direct flights or with stopovers)
    2) compare the prices being offered by various airline companies
    3) search for the best prices for flexible dates.

    Once the user has found the flight that best suits his needs, he can purchase the ticket directly, with no need for a new connection to the flight provider’s website.

    Bravofly offers all these services, as well as its pricing process, with a high level of market transparency. In fact, users can clearly see on Bravofly’s websites (volagratis.it; bravofly.com; bravofly.fr; bravofly.es, bravofly.de, bravofly.co.uk) the price of the flight (that is strictly determined by the airline company), and the service costs added by Bravofly.

    Moreover, users are informed of the travel rules and regulations imposed by the airline company, including information about online booking for checked-in luggage. Also, in order to provide users with a simpler more direct means of communication, Bravofly offers complete assistance thanks to its customer service – Bravofly supplies users with information and support whenever there are any changes to a flight.

    Every airline company’s best offers are displayed on Bravofly’s website so that the user can choose the most convenient solution, while using Bravofly’s custom developed advanced search tools (such as the table showing the best prices for the week, timetable filters, departure and arrival airport options, and many more). Once the user has chosen a flight, he can decide to process his purchase request using the web application provided by Bravofly – it is easy to use and is the same for all airline companies.

    These services allow users to save time, to deal with the same quality and the same personalisation when booking their flights (even if booking with different airline companies) and furthermore, they can use a familiar centralised system. Therefore, Internet users are willing to pay a little more for these additional useful services.

    It is entirely to the user’s discretion to use any or all of Bravofly’s aforementioned services.

    Some users prefer to use Bravofly’s websites uniquely to obtain information about available flights – they may then decide to purchase their flight directly from the airline company’s website. Bravofly encourages all users to use its websites offering the best service for searching, comparing, booking flights, as well as offering the best assistance before and after the flight purchase. It is thanks to its ability to compare several offers, to the ease of use of its booking system, to the quality of its customer service and assistance, both on the internet and in their call centers and to all its additional services that over 3000 people choose Bravofly’s websites every day in order to book their airline ticket, instead of making a new connection to the homepage of the airline companies.

    A choice that is made in complete respect with European regulations; so much so that Bravofly has already requested that the competent tribunals address the legitimacy of Bravofly’s offered services and Ryanair’s unfounded position.

    Ryanair’s position against Bravofly is part of its general tendency to take legal recourse against the most important websites that offer flight price comparisons and airline ticket purchases. This clearly demonstrates that Ryanair aims to prevent travellers from having access to precise information about the best prices.

    In November 2007, the Tribunal of Commerce in Paris declared that Ryanair’s demands against other operators was unfounded.

    In order to stop this negative campaign initiated by Ryanair, Bravofly has mandated its lawyers to protect the good name and the correct operation of Bravofly from Ryanair’s libelous and offending declarations, in all Bravofly offices as necessary.

    PRESS OFFICE BRAVOFLY
    Contact: Rosangela Leone
    E-mail: rosangela.leone@bravofly.com

  2. Here’s an email I just sent to Rosangela. Let’s see how good Bravofly.com’s customer service is:

    Hi Rosangela,

    I just read a posting you made on mulogy.com.

    Five days ago I made a booking with Bravofly.com and the site took my order, took my money and minutes later I received an email stating that the flight could not be booked and I would later receive an email confirming that I had been refunded. However, still to this moment I have not been refunded.

    My booking reference was: ####### and I used the email address: #####@###.com

    What annoys me most is there is no way of contacting Bravofly.com without spending ludicrous amounts of money to expensive telephone numbers.

    Could you please look into this for me? As a journalist I visit a lot of websites and I find this totally out of order.

    Thanks,

  3. And surprise, surprise – no response from our friend Rosangela. However, I did get an email from bravofly.com today but it was an advertisement selling me flights and hotels I never opted in for.

  4. Dear Stuart,
    we are very sorry that you were dissatisfied with our services. We would like to inform you that there is a free way for you and all the other customers to contact us: click on this link and simply fill out the form. An operator will reply to you as soon as possible.
    I apologize for the delay of my answer – my role is that of a press officer, not customer service. I have forwarded your request to our customer service team, who has already given you answer with regards to your situation.
    Thank you for contacting us and we hope you will continue to use our website to book your flights.
    Best regards,
    Rosangela

  5. Sorry again. Find here the correct link to Bravofly costumer service: href=”http://www.bravofly.com/content/en/customerservice.html.
    Thank you
    Rosangela

  6. Christiane says:

    I have recently made a reservation with bravofly. Before actually confirming the reservation (it’s the last step in their reservation system), I noticed that I had made a mistake in the date. So I logged out from their system, logged in a again, and did the reservation witht the exact date.

    Some minutes later, I received two confirmations emails, one for the reservation that I had stopped before confirming it and one of the second reservation.

    I have immediately tried to call them but as Stuart said before if you want to contact them by phone, you have to leave your credit card number and your phone is answered who knows where in the world. One minute is invoice to you at 1.80 Euro which is horrendous.

    I have than send an email to the customer service to which I did not get an answer. I send another email, still not answer. I called them (I don’t know yet how much this has cost me) and was told that the first reservation which I had NOT confirmed was confirmed in their system and that this could not be changed, that I would have to pay the cancellation fees and that I should have called them immediately.
    Good joke.

    I have had to send three emails to get this ticket cancelled and have to date not received confirmation that it has been done and this is over a week ago.

    Dear Rosangela, you consider this customer-service, I am not. This is cheating people. Anyway, I can only repeat here what I told already your colleague on the phone, I have given this issue to our firm’s legal department.
    Furthermore, I will pass the message on to all my colleagues as well as anybody else I know to never ever book tickets with bravofly.

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