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Trivago fined $45 Million For Misleading Customers On Hotel Pricing

Global hotel booking giant, Trivago, has been fined $45 million for misleading customers with its advertising, claiming its website made it easy to find "the best price".

Trivago advertised that it made it easy to find the "best price"; however, the booking giant was found to be placing more expensive options at the top of its search results.

Two years ago, the Federal Court found the company had breached Australian Consumer Law on multiple occasions.

Today the court-ordered Trivago to pay $44.7 million in penalties for its breaches.

In his orders on penalties, Justice Mark Moshinsky, noted that there was a "considerable gulf between the parties' positions", with the ACCC arguing for at least $90 million in fines and Trivago saying up to $15 million would be appropriate.

However, consumers have not been compensated for booking more expensive hotel rooms and are estimated to be around $30 million out of pocket

Trivago earned approximately $92 million in revenue from the offending, ‘non-cheapest top position click-outs’, out of a total of $178 million in revenue it earned in Australia over the offending period.

Triavgo gave evidence in defence, that about three-quarters of its local revenue was consumed by its advertising spend and that it made "negative or very slim profit margins" on its Australian business between 2017-2020.

Stating the company made a maximum profit of $3 million, out of a total profit for its Australian operations of $6.7 million between 2017-2019.

In response to the penalty, Trivago said it was "disappointed with the outcome".

The company also said, in a statement, that it looks forward "to putting this behind us and continuing to help millions of Australians find great accommodation deals".