Ryanair has followed up its YouTube attack on eDreams ODIGEO by launching court proceedings.
And despite its professed enthusiasm for working with Google on its flights search product, the budget airline has included the search engine in its legal challenge.
It claims Google allows activities by eDreams that are prohibited under consumer legislation, by allowing the OTA to use “misleading subdomains” and advertise “copycat” websites.
In its latest attempt to outlaw screenscraping, Ryanair claimed the OTA advertises “non-existent fares” and are “being deceived and subjected to false prices and hidden charges”.
The airline claims screenscrapers also create other problems for customers like checked in bags not being recorded, contact details being omitted and additional passengers either not being recognised or added to the booking.
As well as action in the Irish High Court, Ryanair said it has also put the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission on notice of the proceedings.
In a statement the airline said: “Ryanair has no issues with Google selling advertising space, but has repeatedly called on Google to enforce transparency on its online advertising following numerous complaints from Ryanair customers who were deceived into buying on the eDreams website when they thought they were booking on Ryanair.com.
“Following Google’s refusal to stop these false advertising practices (which are in breach of Google’s own code of conduct), Ryanair has been left with no alternative than to take legal proceedings against both eDreams and Google in the Irish High Courts.”
Kenny Jacobs, Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, said: “This Google/eDreams action is a repeat of a recently successful German court ruling which has outlawed eDreams deceptive advertising in Germany.
“This deception and mis-selling has led to a surge of consumer complaints and leaves Ryanair with no choice but to take legal action against both Google and eDreams, who continue to use Google search adverts to deceive consumers into booking Ryanair flights on the eDreams website at inflated fares.
“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.
Ryanair has no commercial agreement with eDreams, who continue to advertise false fares and unlawfully mis-sells Ryanair fares with hidden handling fees.
“Our repeated calls for greater Google advert transparency, or for Google to comply with their own code of conduct, have been ignored, and in order to prevent 1,000’s more consumers being misled on the Google search engine, we have commenced these High Court proceedings.
“We have no problem with Google charging advertisers on its paid search function, but we expect Google to ensure that this advertising is honest and transparent (namely that eDreams advertises as “eDreams” and not as Ryanair), which is what Google’s own code of conduct requires and which will prevent more ordinary consumers being deceived by this false and unlawful advertising scam.
“The German courts have already outlawed this eDreams false advertising, and its time the Irish and UK courts did the same to protect consumers.”
In a statement eDreams said: “The case against Google and eDreams has only just been filed so there is little we can say beyond the fact that we disagree strongly with Ryanair’s position.
“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.”