Hotel and guesthouses which have misleading descriptions on the Internet are being targeted by trading standards chiefs.

A survey examined 85 Internet descriptions of Oxfordshire hotels and found nine were incorrect. One hotel had 14, 20 or 50 single rooms according to three different websites.

Other problems included statements about accommodation price, membership of the English Tourist Board, AA or RAC and descriptions about location.

The survey was carried out by trading standards officers in Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Shropshire, Warwickshire and Staffordshire. The overall results showed that out of 545 descriptions examined, 76 (14 per cent) were incorrect.

The survey also highlighted the emergence of directory sites where details of hotels were taken from other sources, often without hoteliers' knowledge, causing accuracy problems. David Sibbert, chief trading standards officer for Oxfordshire, said: "With the increased reliance placed upon the Internet by consumers, it is essential that descriptions are accurate. It is a concern that some details are being put on the Internet without the knowledge of hotel and guesthouse proprietors and we would ask them to look out for these sites."

Oxfordshire County Council is continuing to monitor descriptions and will take action where necessary under the Trade Descriptions Act. Giving out misleading information can lead to court fines of up to 5,000.

Story date: April 28, 2000