Sydney, Australia, Apr 22 (EFE).- An Australian court ordered Friday the accommodation search portal Trivago, based in Germany, to pay tens of millions of dollars in fines for giving misleading information about hotel room rates between December 2016 and September 2019.
The Australia’s Federal Court, which determined more than two years ago that the multinational violated the Australian Consumer Law, imposed an AUD 44.7 million ($32.8 million) fine, according to the Friday ruling.
In announcing the sanction, Judge Mark Moshinsky said he considered it necessary “for the purposes of specific and general deterrence, to establish sanctions that are much higher than the benefits obtained by Trivago with its infringing conduct” to reflect the “seriousness of the infractions.”
The magistrate said Trivago had proposed to pay “only half of the estimated damages suffered by consumers (AUD 30 million),” the judge said, referring to an amount equivalent to about USD 22 million.
Trivago, sued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, misled consumers by saying it would help them quickly and easily find the best deals or rates available for a particular hotel, according to the consumer protection agency.
In these cases, Trivago used an algorithm that gave significant weight to the online hotel booking sites that paid the highest rate per click to have higher visibility on their portal, and often did not appear cheaper rates for consumers, the commission said Friday in a statement.
Trivago, which has the United States-based Expedia as the majority shareholder, said that between December 2016 and September 2019 it received approximately AUD 58 million in cost commissions for click for these supposedly misleading offers.
The total amount of overpayments made by consumers between December 2016 and September 2019, which served to determine the fine, was about AUD 38 million, according to to the commission’s calculations. EFE