A Google ban on payday loans should be extended to include adverts for eDreams, which Ryanair claims is misleading consumers by passing itself off as the airline.
Adverts for payday loans and related products are to be abolished from the search giant’s advertising systems from July 13.
Google confirmed that the change is “designed to protect our users from deceptive or harmful financial products”.
The budget airline yesterday called on the policy to be extended to clamp down on ‘screenscraper’ websites that attempt to pass themselves off as Ryanair in search results.
Ryanair has been involved in a long-running legal dispute with Google and European OTA eDreams.
The carrier claims that the eDreams and related Opodo sites are misleading consumers and charging inflated fares with hidden fees.
The airline instigated Irish High Court proceedings against both eDreams and Google in December in an effort to stop them advertising false Ryanair fares and has written to Google highlighting “hundreds” of complaints by customers.
Ryanair chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said: “It’s incredible that Google have announced that from July, they will ban misleading adverts for payday loans, yet repeatedly ignore calls to ban adverts by eDreams/Opodo, which the UK Advertising Standards Authority have already ruled are misleading.”
Jacobs added: “We again call on Google to delist eDreams until all references to Ryanair have been removed from the eDreams advertising.”
A spokesperson for eDreams said: “Ryanair is misleading the public when it claims that we apply “hidden fees” and that we sell “inflated fares”, which is not possible on any carrier.
“The eDreams service charge is not hidden or added at the final booking stage as is suggested – customers have the ability to choose their payment card at the very first stage of the search process. The full price “Breakdown” including service charges is available in the top right hand corner of the screen, once customers have chosen their preferred flight.
“There is no intention to imitate the appearance of specific airlines as eDreams clearly displays all available flight options, with all airlines, to its customers making a search on one of its websites, no matter how they arrived at our site.
“The ASA recently acknowledged that eDreams can use relevant search terms and that it can promote its services through the use of search engine optimisation. This is a common business practice across many sectors.
“The whole point of the service we provide is to search millions of possible combinations in a matter of seconds to give consumers the ability to book flights there and back with different airlines, to get the best value and most convenient combinations.
“Close to half of our customers book a combination of flights which cannot be booked on any single airline website. A small minority of airlines aren’t happy with this.”
Google confirmed that it disabled more than 780 million adverts in 2015 for reasons ranging from counterfeiting to phishing.
Google global product policy director, David Graff, said: “When ads are good, they connect people to interesting, useful brands, businesses and products. Unfortunately, not all ads are – some are for fake or harmful products, or seek to mislead users about the businesses they represent.”
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