Trivago may soon face more than $10 million in fines for misleading customers.
In August, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took Trivago to federal court claiming that the site breached Australian Consumer Law by showing misleading hotel prices through its advertisements from December 2013 to April 2018.
Trivago essentially led customers to believe that the results page had the lowest prices, but the ACCC discovered cheaper deals in the “more deals” section which customers were not made aware of.
Furthermore, Trivago compared luxury rooms with standard rooms and guided consumers to hotels that paid them more commission than others or “prioritized advertisers who were willing to pay the highest cost per click fee,” said the ACCC in a statement.
“It’s been comparing apples with oranges — so it might take a junior suite and compare that with a standard room – and give you a discount when it’s not really comparing two rooms that are the same,” the Sunday Telegraph’s John Rolfe said.
“The ads are wonderful — we all love Trivago girl — and she tells us it’s the best price — only problem is, it’s not. It’s one big lie and they deserve to be punished.”
Trivago admitted to the misconduct last Tuesday saying, “By displaying the strike-through price next to the top position offer in the form it was displayed either on its own or in conjunction with the percentage savings box.”
“Trivago may have caused some consumers to form an erroneous belief that the top position offer and the strike-through price were offers for rooms in the same room category.”
Trivago has since updated their website to tell customers that hotels are ranked by “compensation paid by the booking site.”
The case is expected to continue in court on December 14, 2018, in Melbourne.
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