Expedia, along with a number of other companies, including Orbitz, Travelocity, Sabre Holdings Corp., Marriott International, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, and Hilton Worldwide, have been named in a federal lawsuit in California for conspiring to fix hotel room prices, to fend off smaller online retailers selling rooms at lower prices, Reuters reports.
Plaintiffs Nikita Turik and Eric Balk are reportedly seeking class action status, alleging that the defendants violated state antitrust laws with "agreements whereby hotel operators ceased doing business with online retailers who sold rooms below certain prices."
For a company like Expedia, this is particularly ironic, considering that it's part of the FairSearch Coalition, an organization made up of travel sites put together to "promote economic growth, innovation and choice across the Internet ecosystem by fostering and defending competition in online and mobile search," as the coalition puts it.
The coalition first came together when Google announced its intent to acquire ITA Software. It sought for the acquisition to be blocked by regulators, but that didn't happen. Ever since, the organization has been vocally opposing Google's business practices at nearly every turn.
For example, last month, FairSearch offered a statement saying, “The FairSearch coalition would welcome a rapid, substantive and legally enforceable change to Google’s business practices that steer users to its own products and away from others," as Google was dealing with the European Commission.
Expedia has not commented on the suit. We've reached out to FairSearch for comment. We'll update if we receive one.
Update: FairSearch is indicating that it will not comment on this.