Trivago has been found guilty of misleading customers about cheap hotel deals on its website and in advertising.
The Netherlands-incorporated company made its money from cost-per-click payments from advertisers rather than providing “an impartial, objective and transparent price comparison service”.
“The fact that Trivago was being paid by the online booking sites was not made clear,” Federal Court Justice Mark Moshinsky said.
The company was also found guilty of false and misleading price comparisons because they compared a standard room rate with a luxury room at the same hotel.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) boss Rod Sims has said he would like to see the maximum penalty handed down against Trivago, warning that the consumer watchdog will look to take other online comparison websites to court for allegedly misleading consumers.
“We will certainly be seeking the highest penalties we can get to send a message to Trivago, and to send a message to others, not to mislead consumers,” Sims told the ABC.