Is Trivago still deceptive?

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Online travel agents (OTAs) may be deceptive in their advertising it has been suggested.

Is the hotel that pops up first a paid for ad or is it genuinely the best deal?

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has just won a court case against Trivago in the Australian city of Melbourne. The ruling is that Trivago used an algorithm which placed significant weight on which online hotel booking site paid Trivago the highest cost-per-click fee in determining its website rankings and often did not highlight the cheapest rates for consumers.

The Court also found that, until at least 2 July 2018, Trivago misled consumers to believe that the Trivago website “provided an impartial, objective and transparent price comparison for hotel room rates.”

But Trivago isn’t the only OTA that the ACCC has been looking at. Other unnamed OTA’s are also in the frame for similar activity.

What was happening is that the first, or even more, hotel that came up on Trivago’s website were not the cheapest as their advertising claimed. Now Trivago posts an information paragraph that says “The ranking results reflect your search criteria and our assessment of the attractiveness of the offer compared to other offers available on our site. It also reflects the compensation paid by the booking site.” It means that Trivago shows paid for rankings first but doesn’t identify them as such. Is this still deceptive even give the “i” for infomation button given when the rankings begin?

How many people click on that button to understand what it means?

Does it happen in the UK as well?

Yes it does. The same information is given but apart from that there is no identification that the first rankings are paid for ads which is what the word “compensation” really means in the information statement.  

Google highights paid ads when you search for something. We can all see that but with Trivago such clarity can’t be seen.

Is the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) looking at the practice over here? Are the Irish and EU competition bodies also investigating?

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