Google has been fined more than $1.3 million over misleading ratings for hotels in France, that country’s Finance Ministry said Monday. The decision followed a months-long investigation that began in 2019.
"The investigation revealed that Google had replaced the Atout France ranking with a classification established according to its own criteria," said the General Directorate for Competition, Consumption and Fraud Control (DGCCRF). Atout France is the country’s official hotel classification.
The probe followed complaints from hoteliers and assessed the rankings of more than 7,500 hotels with stars on Google’s search results.
The DGCCRF said the practice was "particularly damaging" for customers who thought they were getting certain benefits when booking with the hotel and for hoteliers whose establishments were being ranked lower by Google than by Atout France.
Officials also said the search engine has amended its hotel ranking practices since September of 2019, correcting their search result and using Atout France’s rankings.
“We have now settled with the DGCCRF and made the necessary changes to reflect the official French star rating for hotels on Google Maps and Search,” a Google spokesperson said.