A couple of European hard discount airlines are taking Google to task for putting third-party sites way up in the search results and misleading customers who want to book flights.
The Irish discount carrier Ryanair is the latest to complain about Google’s practice of putting the ads of Spanish travel booking site eDreams before their own when a person searches for ‘ryanair.’
Rival discount airline Easyjet has also experienced similar problems with search results. Both Easyjet and Ryanair say that reservations made through a third party like eDreams could result in customers paying more than they have to for airfares, in addition to creating possible registration problems.
In addition, Ryanair contends that Google’s practices are in violation of its own corporate mantra: Don’t be evil (which, by the way, was dropped by Alphabet — Google’s new holding company — late last year.)
Google won’t comment on the Ryanair/eDreams issue because there is ongoing litigation. A spokesman for the company did say Google was ‘working closely with advertiser partners to make sure their ads do not mislead users,’ according to the Guardian.
The whole question of stumbling across misleading search results raises some important points…
Here’s how you can avoid or minimize damage from bogus search results
1. Change search engines
Consider switching to a search engine like DuckDuckGo.com. Don’t be fooled by the funny name; this is one serious search engine that can connect you with the sites you want without leading you astray. The advantage of DuckDuckGo is that it clearly marks both ads and official sites with different colored icons. So navigating to what you want is a cinch!
2. Hover over the URL before clicking and inspect it closely
What you’re looking for is anything amiss. A word or name in the URL that’s spelled incorrectly may indicate a phony website set up by hackers. An extra name or word in the URL of a company that should have a pretty straightforward URL indicates you may be going to a third party site rather than where you intended to go.
3. Always pay with credit card
Let’s say you decide to take the leap and buy whatever it is you’re searching for and/or considering online. In that case, be sure you only pay by credit card. Do not use a debit card under any circumstances. With a credit card, you have 60 days from the date of purchase to file a dispute with your credit card company should the merchandise not show up or the travel arrangements not materialize the way you thought they would.