P&O to fight unfair trading allegations

Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co says there is no prospect of it paying fines in respect of allegations of unfair trading practices in Florida.

Lloyds List said last week the State of Florida was seeking fines of up to US$15,000 against P&O's Princess Cruises unit for each passenger boarded at state ports over the past four years. It said the total size of any possible fines was not known.

Florida attorney-general Bob Butterworth said Princess had been 'pocketing' money collected as port charges that customers were led to believe was a government fee.

But P&O said it was not prepared to concede on the matter: 'Other companies have settled with the attorney-general's office without admitting liability.' 'Their only penalty was reimbursement of the state cost of the probe.

'Princess could also have settled, and indeed could do so today, but such is the strength of our case that we were not prepared to concede the principle,' it said.

The lawsuit was first reported when Florida revealed the fees added as much as $150 to advertised ticket prices.

'By keeping portions of these add-on fees for itself, Princess was able to advertise lower cruise prices than would otherwise be possible,' Mr Butterworth said.