Trivago could be facing a hefty fine for misleading consumers with its TV ads.
Trivago could be facing a hefty fine for misleading consumers with its TV ads.

Trivago admits to duping Aussies

TRIVAGO has admitted misleading Australian consumers with TV ads aired up to 400,000 times falsely claiming its highlighted deals were the "best price".

The hotel comparison website has also admitted tricking consumers with dodgy discounts by comparing premium and luxury rooms, The Daily Telegraph reports.

The admissions, contained in a filing obtained by the paper, concede the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) two key claims against the website in a case brought before Melbourne's Federal Court in August.

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 there may have been cheaper offers in a "more deals".

It also said by displaying a red "strike-through price" next to the green "top position offer" it "may have caused some consumers to form an erroneous belief that the top position offer and the strike-through price were offers for rooms in the same room category".

In both cases Trivago admitted multiple breaches of Australian consumer law. Total fines could exceed $10 million, with individual breaches attracting penalties of up to $1.1 million.

In August, ACCC chairman Rod Sims described the allegations as "extremely serious" and said the watchdog would be seeking a "very sizeable" fine. At the time, a Trivago spokesman told AAP the company was "disappointed by the action" and would "vigorously defend our interests".

Trivago has been contacted for comment. The parties are currently in mediation ahead of a directions hearing listed for December 14.


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