Trivago faces millions in ACCC fines after admitting misleading conduct

Hotel comparison site Trivago is facing millions of dollars in fines after admitting misleading conduct in its prosecution by the ACCC.

The case, which was launched by the ACCC in August, alleged the European based company’s 2017 advertising campaign gave the impression users would get the best hotel deals from its aggregation service, when in reality many of the highlighted prices were not actually the best deal.

At the time of launching the case, ACCC chair Rod Sims said: “We are very concerned that such platforms convey an impression that their services are designed to benefit consumers, when in fact listings are based on which supplier pays the most to the platform.”

In October, Sims warned digital platforms including Trivago about their use of algorithmic ‘black boxes’ and overreaching terms and conditions as the ACCC continues its inquiry into the digital economy.

The ACCC’s inquiry into digital platforms is due to hand down its interim report in coming weeks.

The Daily Telegraph has reported Trivago’s last week admitted in court documents that the site led consumers to ‘form an erroneous belief’ the results page contained the lowest prices.

With this admission, Trivago could be liable for up to $10m in fines for each offence under the Australian Consumer Law.

Mumbrella has contacted Trivago and the ACCC for comment.

In June, Trivago said in a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission that: “The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, or ACCC, has requested information and documents from us relating to our advertisements in Australia concerning the hotel prices available on our Australian site and our strike-through pricing practice, which is the display adjacent to the price quote in the top position in our search results of a higher price that is crossed out.

“We submitted this information to the ACCC in February 2018, and plan to provide certain related documents in March 2018. The matter is in its early stages, and we are unable to estimate its potential effect on our financial position and results of operations.”


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