Google Shopping Rivals Question EU Rule Compliance

Shopping comparison website operators sent a letter to the European Union’s Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager late last week contending that Google isn’t complying with a ruling by the EU in regards to how it should display shopping services.

According to a report in CNET citing the open letter, the shopping comparison website rivals contend the auction-based system for deciding which shopping services are on display hasn’t fixed the issues. “The harm to competition, consumers and innovation caused by Google’s illegal conduct has continued unabated,” they said in the letter. The rivals urged the EU competition commission to lodge noncompliance charges against Google.

Last year the EU hit Google with a $2.72 billion fine for displaying its shopping service over those of rivals. The fine came after an antitrust investigation that lasted several years. Under the rules put in place by the EU, Google has to create a system to fix what it said were illegal activities by finding a way to give the same treatment to rival shopping services compared to its own.  According to CNET 14 shopping services claim the new methods do not result in an equal playing field. A spokesman for the European Commission told CNET that it has received the letter and was reviewing it carefully. “There is more than one way to do this,” said the commission spokesman, referring to the methods Google puts in place. “It is Google’s sole responsibility to change its conduct in order to comply with this obligation.” The commission noted that it actively monitors the situation and contacts those that are impacted. The spokesman noted that the commission hasn’t taken a position on whether Google complied with the ruling. “And since we haven’t done so, this obviously remains an open question,” he said.

A Google spokesman told CNET it has met the orders of the commission. “We allow all comparison shopping services to compete equally to show product ads from merchants on Google’s Search results page,” the spokesman said. “To help drive awareness amongst merchants who are unfamiliar with these new opportunities, we’re currently offering incentives for them to work with comparison shopping services. One year on, both services that existed before the remedy and services that are new to comparison shopping are participating successfully.”




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