New research from NordVPN has found that British websites are ripping off UK holidaymakers for all sorts of things that can be purchased for much less when booking from abroad.
The research, which was commissioned by NordVPN but carried out by an independent consultancy, took place between August 24th and September 6th 2022 and involved simultaneous searches for identical products that were being sold by the same vendor from a number of country servers.
It found that British holidaymakers booking and purchasing from websites in the UK were being charged up to 97.5% more than if they placed orders from overseas.
The research looked at everything from car hire and hotel bookings to booking ferries and theme park tickets.
Significant car hire savings with NordVPN
Some of the savings that NordVPN has identified in this research are absolutely jaw-dropping.
For example, it found that using the Avis Car Hire website from a NordVPN server based in New Zealand resulted in an enormous 49.4% saving for a 14-night visit. That’s a saving that amounts to almost half of the total price that would be paid on the British website.
The booking in question was for a two-week hire of a Toyota Camry at Auckland Airport next April. Using a NordVPN server in New Zealand would save British holidaymakers a jaw-dropping £1,226 to £1,258.
Avis are not the only car hire firm guilty of this practice. Hertz quoted a price that was 44% lower for a Toyota Agya hire in Cape Town in June 2023 via a NordVPN server based in South Africa. That is a total saving of £416.
Cruising to a saving
It’s not just car hire firms that have been caught out by this research. Cruise firms are also making huge profits off their British customers.
NordVPN found that a 7-night Mediterranean cruise with MSC Cruises in June next year can be purchased for 28.4% less when connecting to an Italian website. That’s a saving of £454 to book an interior cabin.
If you want to book a 10-night Caribbean cruise in July next year, you can do the same thing and save a whopping £573.
Then there is the major hotel booking companies who are also at it. Using a Spanish VPN server to access Booking.com will save you 15.7% on a 7-night stay at the Carnival Palace Hotel in Venice in February 2023. That’s a saving of almost £300.
If you want to use Tui to book a 14-night stay at Hotel Riu Palace, Tenerife, next June, try connecting to a NordVPN server in Germany, and you can save £339 – that’s 10.8% of the total price.
You can also save more than 10% with Hotels.com on a 7-night stay at San Firenze Suites & Spa, Florence, in March 2023 if you connect to an Italian server. That’s £128 left in your pocket rather than going onto Hotels.com profit margin.
And there is more. The French website for Disneyland Paris, which can be accessed using a French VPN server, lets you save more than £1,100 on a 7-night stay in December at the Disneyland Hotel New York for a family of four.
Why are companies charging different prices and how can a VPN help?
There are a number of reasons why companies might charge different prices for the same thing in different countries.
Some countries enforce higher taxes than others, while others will have higher running costs in one country than in others.
But the most common reason is that companies use complex algorithms to generate prices based on what different consumer demands are. These automatically set prices at, frankly, the highest level the company thinks they can get away with in a particular market.
British people are known to be savvy shoppers and willing to go the extra mile in search of a bargain. But, if you can’t access overseas-based websites, it is impossible to find a bargain.
That’s where a VPN comes in. VPNs work by hiding your real location and letting you connect to an external server.
These servers can be based anywhere in the world, and, once you are connected, websites such as the ones mentioned above will think you are there too, and so show you their prices for that country.
Not all prices will differ, so it’s not really worth the effort for little things. But when it comes to expensive purchases like holidays it definitely pays to spend a bit of time shopping around for the best possible prices.
As Marijus Briedis, Chief Technology Officer at NordVPN, said when revealing this research, “Never assume you’re seeing the same price as everyone else. [Companies] will routinely show different prices on different website domains, and it can even differ depending on where you’re visiting from.”
“We’ve demonstrated how you can save hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds a trip by using a VPN to access the websites seen by customers overseas. You don’t have to be a computer scientist to bag these savings. VPNs are so easy to use, anyone can do it.”
He’s absolutely right. Nothing could be simpler than signing up for a VPN, downloading the app onto your device, and then switching between countries to see what sort of savings you can find.
It’s a process that won’t take any longer than shopping around on domestic websites. But whereas you might save a few quid here and there doing that, using a VPN to check different prices overseas has the potential to save you hundreds, if not thousands of pounds.
However, as a word of warning. This type of research is not particularly new. Way back in 2017 we at VPNCompare carried out our own research after multiple claims of cheap flights being available via this method and not everything was as easy as it seems.
It’s worth giving it a try, but don’t expect savings in every circumstance.