EU gives Google 2 months to improve hotel, flight search results


FILE PHOTO: Google app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic//File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Alphabet unit Google has two months to improve the way it presents internet search results for flights and hotels and explain how it ranks these or face possible sanctions, the European Commission and EU consumer authorities said on Monday.

The world's most popular internet search engine has long faced scrutiny from antitrust enforcers and consumer groups around the world over its business practices, which in some cases have landed it with hefty fines.

The latest grievance centres on the prices on its services Google Flights and Google Hotels.

The final prices for these should include fees or taxes that can be calculated in advance, while reference prices used to calculate promoted discounts should be clearly identifiable, the EU executive and national consumer watchdogs, led by the Dutch agency and the Belgian Directorate General for Economic Inspection, said in a joint statement.

"EU consumers cannot be misled when using search engines to plan their holidays. We need to empower consumers to make their choices based on transparent and unbiased information," EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said.

The agencies also told Google to revise the standard terms of its Google Store because some cases showed that traders have more rights than consumers.

If Google's proposals are not sufficient, the agencies will discuss the issue further with the company and may impose sanctions.

Google said in a statement: "We welcome this dialogue and are working closely with consumer protection agencies and the European Commission to see how we can make improvements that will be good for our users and provide even more transparency."

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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