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Ryanair has launched High Court proceedings against both eDreams and Google to stop what the airline alleges is misleading advertising of non-existent Ryanair fares on the eDreams website and Google search advertising.
The airline says it is reacting to “numerous complaints from Ryanair customers who were deceived into buying on the eDreams website when they thought they were booking on Ryanair.com.”
Ryanair’s CMO Kenny Jacobs said:
“This Google/eDreams action is a repeat of a recently successful German court ruling which has outlawed eDreams deceptive advertising in Germany. Both the subdomain eDreams uses, and the branding and design it employs on this site, are a deliberate attempt to dupe consumers into thinking they are directly booking Ryanair’s low fares.
“Ryanair has no commercial agreement with eDreams, who continue to advertise false fares and unlawfully mis-sells Ryanair fares with hidden handling fees. Our repeated calls for greater Google advert transparency, or for Google to comply with their own code of conduct, have been ignored, and in order to prevent 1,000’s more consumers being misled on the Google search engine, we have commenced these High Court proceedings.”
Ryanair specifically refers to eDreams subdomains “Ryanair Cheap Flights” and “www.Ryanair.eDreams.com,” as well as what it claims is copycat website with identical Ryanair branding, intended to deceive consumers into visiting the eDreams website, and “booking with eDreams at inflated fares.”
Ryanair also claims that consumers who book with eDreams face complications with their booking, “such as checked in bags not being recorded, contact details being omitted and additional passengers not being recognized or added to the booking.”
Jacobs added, “We expect Google to ensure that this advertising is honest and transparent—namely that eDreams advertises as “eDreams” and not as Ryanair—which is what Google’s own code of conduct requires and which will prevent more ordinary consumers being deceived by this false and unlawful advertising scam.”
Ryanair states it has asked Google to address eDreams advertising but that Google has failed to address the airline’s complaints.
In a statement, eDreams told Skift, “The case against Google and eDreams has only just been filed so there is little we can say beyond the fact that we disagree strongly with Ryanair’s position. This action is clearly just another attempt from Ryanair to stop online travel agencies from offering consumers the best price and choice when it comes to booking flights.”
Ryanair refers to findings in German courts which have outlawed the advertising strategy eDreams employs, and asks that the Irish and UK courts do the same. Citing consumer legislation against such practices, Ryanair has also notified the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission of its legal proceedings.