EU Regulators Urged To Censure Google Over Price Comparison Service

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The European Commission. Image credit: European Commission

European Union urged to take action against Google for allegedly favouring its own comparison shopping service

A group of European price comparison companies urged EU enforcement against Google over its alleged favouring of its own comparison shopping service (CSS).

Axel Springer’s price-comparison shopping service Idealo, as well as 40 other European peers have accused Alphabet’s Google of tilting the playing field in its favour, Reuters reported.

They have urged European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager to take further action against Google, two years after she ordered it to stop favouring its own price CSS.

EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager. Image credit: European Commission

Fresh compliant

In June 2017 Google was fined 2.4 billion euros (£2.1bn) by the European Commission for abusing its monopoly on Internet searches within the European Union.

That massive fine was at the culmination of seven years of investigation by the EC which ruled that Google had broken EU law on competition by exploiting its search engine results to promote its own shopping service in a a fashion that was to the detriment of other price comparison sites.

It followed complaints made in 2010 by rivals including Microsoft, TripAdvisor, Nokia and Expedia.

And now Reuters reported that a group of companies have in November 2019 sent a joint letter Vestager, which was seen by Reuters, that alleged that the Google had yet to comply with the 2017 order.

Joint letter

The signatories to the letter are said to be from 21 EU countries and include Idealo, Europe’s second largest price comparison shopping service, Polish No. 1 Ceneo, Britain’s Kelkoo, and Foundem and Heureka in the Czech Republic.

“We are approaching you (Vestager) because companies like ours are endangered by Google, which is artfully avoiding compliance with the law,” the companies reportedly wrote.

They said Google’s proposal to allow competitors to bid for advertising space at the top of a search page had not boosted traffic to their sites.

“As a result, more and more CSS’ have been or will be forced by Google to exit the market,” they warned.

Google however has said it was seeing positive results from its “shopping remedies” and more merchants were gaining traffic.

“Over 28,000 merchants in Europe are currently placing shopping ads through these third-party Comparison Shopping Services, leading to more choice for merchants and consumers,” Google reportedly said.

The European Commission confirmed receipt of the letter, which did not mention any specific solutions sought by the group, and said it was monitoring the situation.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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