Russian million dollar fine for for stubborn best price clauses

[ad_1] has to pay a fine of 15 million euros for abuse of its market power in Russia. The Russian competition authority FAS announced this on Thursday. The reason is that the online travel agency is forcing accommodation providers to also offer all rooms via, and at the lowest price. The contractual clauses prohibit the hotel operators from requesting lower prices on their own websites or from other booking agents.

Because the Dutch company has gained special market power in Russia and the accommodation providers are dependent on booking brokers, these best price clauses violate Russian competition law. Namely, they restrict competition between booking channels. The reason for the procedure was a complaint from the Russian Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, OPORA Russia.

The FAS has set the penalty high. The authority has already in September and again in December ordered last year to abolish both “wide” and “narrow” best price clauses. Sea FAS However, the company did not obey these orders. Opora Vice President Aleksej Koževnikov is now calling on to abolish the best price clauses and not introduce any other rules that could restrict competition. “Russian hotels still have high costs to bear”, said Koževnikov on Thursday. heise online has asked for an opinion.

For years, competition authorities in numerous countries have been taking action against the best price clauses from and other online travel agencies. As early as 2015, the German cartel office had forbidden to guarantee the cheapest hotel price, the highest possible room availability and the most favorable booking and cancellation conditions from the partner hotels.

As a result, switched from the “wide” to the “narrow” best price clauses. These allow lower prices on other booking platforms as well as offline bookings, for example over the phone or when booking on site. However, hotels were not allowed to call lower prices on their own websites if they were on wanted to be listed.

In May the German Federal Court of Justice ruled that these “narrow” best price clauses are also anti-competitive. They also affect competition (BGH Kartellsenat, May 18, 2021, Az. KVR 54/20). The lower instance, the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court, had considered the “narrow” clauses to be permissible.

At the end of 2019, committed itself to the EU Commission to stop a number of misleading practices. The company must be in the EU

  • Make it clear to consumers that statements such as “Only one room available!” only refer to the offer on the platform;
  • Do not present offers as limited in time if the same price will continue to be available afterwards;
  • clarify how rankings are created and whether payments by the accommodation company to have affected its position in the list of results;
  • make it clearly visible if a price comparison is based on different starting conditions (e.g. different dates of stay) and do not present the corresponding comparison as a discount;
  • ensure that price comparisons presented as discounts represent real savings, e.g. B. by providing details of the standard price used as a benchmark;
  • clearly show the total price that consumers will have to pay (including any unavoidable fees, duties and taxes that can be determined in advance);
  • indicate booked-out accommodation in a position in the result list that corresponds to the search criteria;
  • Clearly indicate whether the accommodation is offered by a private provider or a company.


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