Price comparison service PriceRunner is suing Big Tech company Google the sum of (€2.1 billion) $2.4 billion in damages on competition grounds. The lawsuit accuses Google of violating competition law regarding product search and seeks compensation for a long history of infringements that have enabled Google to top revenue at the detriment of other rivals.
PriceRunner backed up its allegations with a research conducted by Grant Thorton, an accountancy firm. The study claims that prices for offers shown in Google’s own comparison shopping service can be 16-37% higher for popular categories like clothes and shoes, and between 12-14% higher for other types of products compared to rival price comparison services. It didn’t stop there. It also claimed that customers within the EU are overpaying billions every year because of Google’s search engine returning links to products that are more costly than other options offered by other price comparison services.
“What the EU Commission stated was Google is moving down competitors in the search results. It is causing consumers to overpay enormous amounts of money every year because Google is not showing the most relevant results and with too high prices when they could show better results further up”, CEO of PriceRunner, Mikael Lindahl, explained.
He went on to say that “They’ve tried to do some changes to the service meaning it’s possible to resell the ads based on top of Google… It’s still an auction-based model… And when Google knows that they should show results from rivals they have to do this and they are not. So they are definitely still abusing their position since consumers are still hurt. “Google should show the most relevant result and it should be based on the normal search algorithms. What they cannot do — what the EU Commission says is illegal — is when they manually and with algorithms manipulate the search results to get the competitors further down in the results, and this is what they’re doing”.
Google has the upper hand when it comes to the market share, with more than 90 percent of the market share in Europe.
PriceRunner seems to have all the resources to take on a company as big as Google. It mentioned that its legal action against Google is being supported by litigation funder Nivalion. “Of course this is a David against Goliath situation and we had to make sure that we are really well prepared for a very long fight so we have external financing. Nivalion is taking tens of millions of euros of costs — for an upside when we win this. Basically they’re as convinced as we are that this will work out very well for us. So we’re prepared for many years of fight and we have all the resources we need”, Mikael Lindahl said.