Low-cost Irish flier Ryanair has begun court action against internet giant Google and online travel agent eDreams, claiming they mislead customers and did not offer the best deals.
Ryanair is alleging Google did not provide true Ryanair prices on its websites and that eDreams was creating websites which contained the word "Ryanair" to mislead customers into believing they were the company’s.
"It's the deception we have a problem with, not the advertising, through which companies pay Google to have their ads high up in search results,” O'Leary says.
It is common practice for websites like the Spain-based eDreams to pay Google to get high search result placement. Google offers these sites preferential placement but protects itself from being accused of taking bribes by placing a yellow sign next to the website link, indicating they are sponsored.
"Ryanair has engaged in several legal cases across Europe against screen scraper websites such as eDreams to prevent consumers from being deceived and subjected to false prices and hidden charges," says O’leary. He added that Ryanair has "received numerous complaints from Ryanair customers who were deceived into buying on the eDreams website when they thought they were booking on Ryanair.com.”
eDreams has disagreed strongly with Ryanair's accusations, saying, "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."
eDreams' main website shows the Ryanair logo but is branded as eDreams and urges users to "browse low cost flights with Ryanair using the eDreams search engine".
Ryanair won a case at a regional court in Germany recently to prevent eDreams using the domain ryanair.edreams.de in Germany. The airline was also awarded compensation for trademark infringement.