Ryanair, Europe’s biggest airline, is attacking Google for its “misleading” search ads and is calling on the search giant to enforce advertising transparency.”
In a press release, Ryanair points to a search for “Ryanair,” which returns an ad from what appears to be the official airline itself.
In fact, Ryanair says this ad is from an unaffiliated “screenscraper” website called eDreams, which is “masquerading” as Ryanair and “unlawfully” selling its flights.
Here’s the eDreams site the search ad redirects to:
Ryanair says sites such as eDreams have caused considerable problems for its customers, including failing or refusing to pass on information to the airline and passengers regarding details such as flight time changes, check-in information, special needs assistance, and contact information, which has resulted in missed flights in some cases.
Ryanair says it has taken legal action against several screenscraper websites across Europe. The Court of Hamburg ruled in January that eDreams had been using an unlawful subdomain and was misleading customers into thinking it had an official partnership with Ryanair.
An eDreams spokeswoman sent Business Insider this statement:
“eDreams notes Ryanair’s latest attack on the fast-growing online travel agency (‘OTA’) sector. As an OTA, eDreams is perfectly entitled to sell Ryanair tickets, and the tickets of other airlines providing customers with much-needed choice and variety to the flight distribution market. Our sites deliver consumers with the ability to find the best prices and our services are supported by our proven, high customer satisfaction. It is also perfectly lawful for an OTA to use the AdWords service of Google in order to advertise flight booking services provided to its customers. Ryanair has been trying, without success, to prevent OTAs selling its tickets for the last ten years, and they are now invoking new, ill-founded grievances.”
Ryanair is also demanding Google works harder to prevent other websites using its subdomain to sell airline tickets on its behalf.
— Ryanair (@Ryanair) October 6, 2015
In the press release, Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs, says the company doesn’t have a problem with Google advertising in general, but adds that it is “unfair” that it is sometimes used as a way to mislead customers.
He adds: “Ryanair will continue to pursue screenscraper websites such as eDreams to prevent Europe’s consumers from being misled over price and booking conditions. We would again urge customers to book directly on the Ryanair.com website to guarantee the lowest fares and best customer service. In the meantime, we call on Google to enforce greater transparency of its advertising to prevent any more customers from being misled and overcharged.”
Business Insider has contacted Google for comment, and we’ll update this article once we hear back.
The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority told Business Insider it has received no official complaint.