An Australian court has fined Trivago, a unit of US-based online travel agency Expedia Group, AU$44.7 million (US$32.91 million) for misleading consumers In terms of hotel room rates, this would be one of the largest expenditures in the country for violating consumer laws.
The federal court issued the penalty on Friday after it was found that Trivago, a hotel booking website, had misrepresented hotel rooms as the cheapest available, when in fact it was advertising. advertising rooms of paying advertisers.
In January 2020, the court found that Trivago violated Australian Consumer Law by misleading consumers using an algorithm that pushed hotels to pay “the highest cost-per-click” and does not highlight the cheapest prices for consumers, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) said.
“The loss or damage caused by Trivago’s breaches is substantial. This arises from the fact that consumers’ bookings related to Top Location Offers are not the cheapest when they can book at the same room. hotels at cheaper prices,” Judge Nathan of the Moshinsky Federal Court wrote in the verdict.
ACCC President Gina Cass-Gottlieb said that Trivago’s conduct exploits consumers’ desire to find the best deal, and that the Court’s decision to order such a hefty fine reflects the seriousness of its conduct. the company.
“Following the initial ruling, which gave new guidance on how the results of comparison sites should display recommendations in Australia, Trivago quickly worked to change its website to comply with its decision. court,” the online hotel search platform told Reuters.
(Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru and Byron Kaye in Sydney; Editing by Rashmi Aich)