Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Trivago has been lying to us all along



I hate those television adverts for Trivago with a passion.

I detest that smarmy know-it-all Aussie almost as much as that self-centred American.

And who seriously gets a four-star hotel room for $120 anyway?

Anyway, it turns out that both of those characters have been lying to us for years.

An Australian court has ruled Trivago breached Australian consumer law by making misleading representations about the hotels featured on its website and television advertising for nearly three years.

It found the company favoured hotels that that paid the highest cost-per-click, rather than offering the lowest prices.

In a judgement made in the Australian Federal Court on January 20, the online hotel comparisons site was found to have misled consumers since at least December 2016 by representing its website as helping to quickly and easily help identify the cheapest rates available for a given holiday globally.

In reality, its site algorithm placed significant weight on which online booking site paid Trivago the highest cost-per-click (CPC) fee to advertise its offering, contradicting its marketing message.

The court ruling followed proceedings launched by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

The ACCC welcomed the court’s decision, with its chair, Rod Sims, calling Trivago’s conduct “particularly egregious”. Along with finding Trivago had misled consumers about the prices advertised, the judge ruled the company misled consumers to believe its website provided impartial, objective and transparent price comparisons across hotel room rates.

“Many consumers may have been tricked by these price displays into thinking they were getting great discounts. In fact, Trivago wasn’t comparing apples with apples when it came to room type for these room rate comparisons,” Sims said.

“By prominently displaying a hotel in ‘top position’ on its website, Trivago represented that the offer was either the cheapest or had some other extra feature that made it the best offer when this was often not the case.”

Trivago is a German transnational technology company specialising in internet-related services and products in the hotel, lodging and metasearch fields. The United States travel company Expedia Group owns a majority of the company's stock.


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