Anti-Competition Regulator In Russia Launches Booking.com Probe

The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) in Russia has opened a probe into hospitality and reservation site Booking.com over anti-competition issues, according to a report by Reuters.

According to the regulator, Booking.com asked other hotels and hostels to list the same prices on other reservation sites as it does on its own site. If the FAS finds that Booking.com is in breach of anti-competition laws, the company faces a fine of between 1 percent and 15 percent of all the revenue it generates in the country.

The company, which was also recently the subject of a probe by the EU, has agreed to change the selling practices it uses on its site, including ending time limits for offers and claiming that a room is the last one available.

The European Commission said Booking.com would end its “manipulative techniques.” An EU executive, along with the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets, had been working with Booking.com throughout 2019. They said the company will modify its practices to align with EU consumer law.

“As a market leader, it is vital that companies like Booking.com meet their responsibilities in this area,” said Didier Reynders, an EU commissioner for justice and consumers.

Booking.com said it was voluntarily working with the authorities to rectify the issues. “But ultimately, Booking believes in clear legislation and standards that apply to everyone in the industry, in order to create a level playing field and consistent standards for consumers,” the company said.

Booking.com has a practice in which it says “last room available,” but it doesn’t specify that the statement only applies to rooms offered on the website. That practice will end. The company also agreed to end the time limit option for a booking if the price remains the same after the timer goes off.

The changes will be made by June 16 of 2020.