Mistake by Google
Google has been fined 1.1 million euros in France for mistakenly ranking hotels, according to a communique from the French competition, consumption and anti-fraud directorate-general (DGCCRF) of the Ministry of Economy.
"An investigation launched by the Directorate General for Competition, Consumption and Counter Fraud (DGCCRF), launched in 2019, has revealed the misleading nature of the hotel ranking compiled by Google. Google Ireland Ltd and Google France have adjusted their practices and, after agreement with the Paris prosecutor, have agreed to pay a fine of 1.1 million euros", the document said.
It is noted that the investigation was conducted by the DGCCRF in 2019-2020 following complaints from hoteliers.
Ratings of more than 7.5 thousand hotels and inns were automatically collected, investigating the consistency of Google ratings and the only official rating in France, conducted by Atout France (classification by "stars" from 1 to 5).
"The investigation showed that Google had replaced Atout France's classification with a classification based on its own criteria", the press release said. However, this classification was misleading due to the identical use of the term "stars" and the classification scale of hotels from 1 to 5.
"This practice has been detrimental to consumers who have been misled about the level of service they could expect when booking accommodation. It has also harmed hoteliers whose establishments have been mistakenly categorised in a lower class than the one in the official Atout France rating", the communique said.
It is noted that Google Ireland Ltd and Google France have adjusted their practices since September 2019. "The platform now uses the official Atout France classification", the communique said.