Ryanair Sues Google, Travel Website Over Claims of Deceptive Ads

Budget airline Ryanair claims Google has to share blame for allowing eDreams to place deceptive display ads on paid search results.

Ryanair Lawsuit 2

Travel website eDreams has changed some of its display ads on Google search after European budget airline Ryanair sued both eDreams and Google earlier this week, claiming the ads were deceptive.

In a statement Wednesday, Ryanair welcomed the quick response from eDreams, but said both Google and eDreams have more work to do to prevent consumers from being deceived by misleading advertising claims.

Ryanair on Tuesday announced that it had initiated Irish High Court proceedings against Google and eDreams to stop them from displaying what it claimed were highly misleading advertisements about Ryanair fares.

The airline claimed that Google had allowed eDreams to use misleading subdomains like Ryanair.eDreams.com with branding identical to its own, to fool consumers into visiting the eDreams website and purchasing Ryanair tickets at inflated prices.

The company claimed it has had to contend with a surge in complaints from consumers about hidden charges and false pricing because of eDreams’ practices and those of sites similar to it. Consumers booking Ryanair flights through eDreams also have had problems with their baggage not being properly recorded, their contact details being incorrectly recorded and other issues.

“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,” the company’s chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said in the statement announcing the lawsuit.

Jacobs claimed that Ryanair had informed Google several times about the deceptive nature of eDreams’ display ads on Google search and asked the company to make it clear that the eDreams site was different from Ryanair’s own website.

Ryanair has no problem with Google charging advertisers for paid search, Jacobs said. But it does expect Google to ensure that the advertising it displays is honest and transparent, in keeping with Google’s own code of conduct on the matter.

According to Jacobs, Google’s refusal to do anything about eDreams’ deceptive domains and advertisements on Google search left it with no choice but to sue both companies.

In its statement Wednesday, Ryanair said it was pleased to see eDreams change its display ads on Google search. Instead of “Ryanair: Cheap Flights,” the display has been modified to say “Ryanair Flight on eDreams,” the airline said. “We note and welcome this small, but immediate impact our legal action has had,” Jacobs said.

But more needs to be done. With thousands of consumers being tricked into buying Ryanair through eDreams because of the latter’s deceptive practices, both Google and eDreams need to be more honest and transparent about the ads, he said.

Google did not respond to a request for comment.

eDreams touts itself as one of the biggest online travel companies in Spain. The company says it offers over 60,000 flight routes from some 440 airlines around the world.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.