Shopping rivals urge EU to act against Google for allegedly favoring own service

This post was originally published on this site

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Forty-one European price-comparison shopping services on Thursday urged EU antitrust regulators to act against Alphabet (NASDAQ:) Inc’s Google for allegedly flouting an order to allow rivals to compete on equal terms, which they said is endangering their existence.

This is the first time that such a big group of companies has teamed up to call on European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager to take further action against Google.

The companies, in a joint letter to Vestager seen by Reuters, said that Google, the world’s most popular internet search engine, has yet to comply with a 2017 order to stop favoring its own price comparison shopping service. Google was also fined 2.4 billion euros at the time.

The signatories to the letter are from 21 EU countries, including Idealo, Europe’s second largest price comparison shopping service and part of publishing group Axel Springer, Polish No. 1 Ceneo, Britain’s Kelkoo, and Foundem and Heureka in the Czech Republic.

“We are approaching you (Vestager) because companies like ours are endangered by Google, which is artfully avoiding compliance with the law,” the companies (CSS) said.

They said Google’s proposal to allow competitors to bid for advertising space at the top of a search page has not boosted traffic to their sites.

“As a result, more and more CSSs have been or will be forced by Google to exit the market,” the companies said.

The letter did not mention any specific remedies sought by the companies.

Some 600 companies now take part in the auctions for search page advertising space, Google senior executive Oliver Bethell told an Informa conference earlier this week, citing it as proof that the auctions have boosted competition.

“Since Google ranks and displays its shopping unit more favorably than competing CSSs in its search pages, the identified abuse has never been terminated,” the companies said, citing a Grant Thornton study which showed higher prices on Google’s shopping unit compared to those on rival sites.

Most of the signatories are voicing their frustrations for the first time, said Thomas Hoppner, lawyer for Idealo.

“The letter demonstrates a united front of genuine comparison shopping services against Google’s attempt to present measures as a “compliance mechanism” that actually make matters worse for its competitors,” he said.

Earlier this month, Vestager voiced concerns about the lack of significant traffic to Google’s competitors.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.