Trivago Admits Ripping Off Customers, Faces $10 Million Fine
Hotel booking site Trivago is in hot water for favouring businesses who paid more in commission, misleading customers looking for the best deal.
In August, the site was taken to court by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for running misleading ads which allegedly exaggerated savings and hid the cheapest deals.
Trivago is also said to have compared luxury rooms with standard rooms and guided consumers to hotels that paid them more commission than others or "prioritised advertisers who were willing to pay the highest cost per click fee", said the ACCC in a statement.
The company could be liable for up to $10 million in fines.
"The ads are wonderful - we all love the Trivago girl and she tells us it's the best price. The only problem is, it's not. It's one big lie and they deserve to be punished," reported John Rolfe in the Sunday Telegraph.
"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."
Since its admission of misconduct, Trivago has updated its website to tell customers that hotels are ranked by "compensation paid by the booking site".
"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 said in a statement.
"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."