Tricky Trivago in strife
TRAVEL website Trivago could face a fine of as much as $10 million after admitting it misled Australian consumers in as many as 400,000 TV advertisements.
It has confessed to falsely claiming highlighted hotel deals were the best price and displayed dodgy discounts by comparing prices between standard and luxury rooms without telling users.
Trivago’s business is based on aggregating offers from different booking websites, which pays Trivago a fee when a consumer clicks on their deal.
Based in Dusseldorf, Trivago’s global revenue for the first nine months of 2018 was $1.15 billion and it has made a TV and social media star of the face of its ads, Australian actor Gabrielle Miller.
That income came from 560 million click-throughs. Australia is one of its biggest markets outside Europe and the US.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission filed action against Trivago in the Federal Court in August and the admissions revealed today by the Sunday Tasmanian are to the ACCC’s two key accusations. In a document obtained from the court, Trivago said its “lowest rate statements may have caused some consumers to form an erroneous belief that the initial search page offers were the lowest rates” when in truth there may have been cheaper offers in a “more deals” section.
In the document, filed on Tuesday, Trivago then admits it “engaged in conduct in contravention” of two sections of consumer law.
The ACCC had accused Trivago of making dodgy savings claims by comparing some providers’ prices for luxury rooms with others’ prices for standard rooms.
The luxury room was presented in red with a “strikethrough price” above another site’s standard room “top position offer” in green.
In its response to the ACCC’s claims, Trivago said it “may have caused some consumers to form an erroneous belief that the top position offer and the strikethrough price were offers for rooms in the same room category”.
Trivago then admits, again, to breaching multiple breaches of consumer law.
FALSE CLAIMS: The face of the Trivago TV adverts, Gabrielle advertisements for the travel site. Miller. Inset,