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South Korean Antitrust Watchdog Fines Booking

 |  November 1, 2022

South Korea’s antitrust regulator said Tuesday it would slap Booking Holdings a fine of $1.75 million (2.5 million won) for its flagship brand Booking.com — and a similar fine on sister brand Agoda — for not clearly telling customers that their search results are partly based on advertising, Yonhap News Agency reported.

The Korea Fair Trade Commission said the online travel booking brands had “deceived” customers by not clearly saying that they had listed certain businesses, such as hotels, at the top of their search results partly because those companies had paid fees for the privilege.

Related: South Korea’s FTC Orders 5 Booking Platforms To Correct Clauses

The regulator said the practice might lead some customers to think certain businesses were at the top of search results solely because of their services and facilities, Yonhap reported.

Booking.com placed a “thumbs-up” logo next to hotels that paid fees, but the regulator said that was inadequate. Agoda used phrases, such as “Agoda Growth Program,” next to listings for hotels that had paid for premium placement, but the regulator faulted that practice as being insufficiently clear.