Google pays 1.1 million euros in fine for its 'misleading' hotel classification




The two companies, Google France and Google Ireland Ltd, have agreed to correct their practices denounced as 'deceptive' by the Repression of Fraud. In exchange, they get away with a fine that could not be more reasonable.

The new technology giant has taken too many liberties to establish its own ranking of hotels on its search engine. The Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) announced on Monday February 15 that it had reached an agreement with the Paris public prosecutor and Google for the Mountain View firm to pay a fine said 'transactional' of 1.1 million euros.



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Google borrowed Atout France's 'star' system on its own ranking

This criminal transaction, which prevents Google from going through long legal proceedings, is the result of an investigation launched by the DGCCRF in 2019. This was seized by hoteliers who complained about the display, on the engine of Google search, a classification of tourist accommodation deemed misleading, which had prompted the Repression of Fraud has carried out checks over the past two years.

The DGCCRF noticed that Google had borrowed from the Atout France classification a classification established according to its own criteria, which created confusion, in particular by the use of the term 'stars' to categorize hotels, with a scale that goes from 1 to 5.

In other words, Google carried its own classification of hotels by using the star system associated with the classification established by Atout France, the only official classification existing in France, on the basis of 7,500 establishments.



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The Repression of Fraud confirms that Google has corrected the disputed practice

The DGCCRF considered that this practice was 'particularly harmful for consumers', thus misled about the level of services expected when booking a room. Hoteliers, too, were recognized to have been victims of prejudice, since they were presented as lower ranked than in the official classification of Atout France.

After having transmitted its conclusions to the Paris Public Prosecutor's Office, the prosecutor and the DGCCRF thus proposed to Google Ireland Ltd and Google France a transaction of 1.1 million euros, as well as the correction of the practice, a double requirement met by the American company. Contacted by Clubic, Google France confirmed the approach, through a spokesperson: 'We have dealt with the DGCCRF and made the necessary changes to reflect only the official French classification of hotels on Google Search and Maps . '

The Repression of Fraud, for its part, was able to observe that 'the platform now uses the official classification issued by Atout France when it communicates on the number of stars actually held by tourist accommodation establishments on the national territory.'

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