“Expedia has been ordered to pay a US $484,000 fine for “misleading marketing practices” following complaints from the French national union of hoteliers, Synhorcat.”
The story below in case the link is broken:
- Using TripAdvisor reviews to redirect traffic to Expedia and Hotels.com, and not to a hotel’s websit
- Displaying a hotel as “full on requested dates”, when in fact rooms were available, and suggesting other nearby available properties that had better commercial terms with Expedia
- Incorrectly displaying hotel phone numbers so users could not call a hotel directly
- Announcing special promotional rates when the final price was actually just a standard rate
The action was supported by the government and its Directorate General for Competition, Consumption and Repression of Fraud.
However, claims regarding the redirecting of users from TripAdvisor sites to Expedia-owned booking sites were not upheld in the ruling.
In an emailed statement, Expedia said: “We have been working with the French General Directorate for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) over recent months to clarify the commercial practices of our reservation websites and TripAdvisor.fr, in accordance with applicable standards and as part of our ongoing policy to improve our tools and services.
“The ruling acknowledges our efforts to ensure the information contained on its websites is as simple, accessible and comprehensible as possible and also that significant efforts have been made beyond our legal obligations to add further information regarding both phone numbers and their conditions and hotel availability displayed on FR.hotels.com and Expedia.fr.
“TripAdvisor has also duly made changes to the wording on tripadvisor.fr on pages where prices or availability are shown in cooperation with the investigation. We are pleased to hear that this ruling acknowledges that these changes make it clear to visitors to the TripAdvisor.fr site that price and availability information is coming from our booking partners.
“As part of our ongoing efforts to improve the experience for our customers, we have also made significant investments: we have set up an advanced training program for employees in the call-centres for our reservation sites; strengthened our service by the gathering and sharing of consumer opinions via call centres and through user testing in our user experience lab which has enables us to significantly and constantly improve the user-friendliness and design of our reservation websites, with simpler and more practical searches.”