Google pledges e-commerce transparency improvements to address EU concerns

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Google LLC will update four of its services to address concerns raised by consumer protection regulators in the European Union.

The update, announced on Thursday, will affect the Play Store and the Google Store, as well as Google Hotels and Google Flights. The planned changes focus mainly on e-commerce purchases. A key goal of the update is making it easier for consumers to access information about handsets and other items they buy through Google services.

“EU consumers are entitled to clear, complete information so that they can make informed choices,” said EU Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders. “The commitments made by Google are a step forward in this direction.”

The first set of transparency improvements will roll out to the Play Store and the Google Store. The Play Store is the search giant’s Android app marketplace. Google Store, in turn, is an e-commerce website through which consumers can purchase internally developed devices such as Pixel handsets. 

Both services are available in multiple country-specific versions. To address EU regulators’ concerns, Google will provide more clarification on how to switch between country-specific versions of the Play Store and Google Store. Additionally, the search giant will allow shoppers to use payment methods from any EU member state.

Google has also pledged to make purchase terms more transparent. The company will provide “clear pre-contractual information” about product delivery costs, repair or replacement options and purchase cancellation policies. Furthermore, it will provide easier access to product supplier information, including the availability of customer support services. 

Another planned change focuses on Android app developers. Google has pledged to more clearly inform developers about the EU’s Geo-blocking Regulation, a law the bloc implemented in 2018. It requires apps sold in the EU to be made available for purchase across all member states. 

The two other services set to affected by the planned update are Google Hotels and Google Flights. The former service allows users to book hotel rooms. Flights enables users to purchase airline tickets from third-party companies. 

Google will make it simpler to determine whether it acts as an intermediary during a purchase or sells the item being bought directly. Additionally, the company will clarify that accommodation reviews on Google Hotels are not verified. A third change is set to see the search giant make it easier to determine the price of a purchase after discounts are applied. 

Google will also take several other steps to address EU regulators’ concerns. The company has pledged to create an email address that will let EU consumer protection authorities request the removal of illegal content. Furthermore, Google has agreed to “limit its capacity to make unilateral changes related to orders” when it comes to product prices and cancellations.

Lastly, Google will implement a set of transparency commitments previously adopted by Airbnb Inc., Expedia Group Inc. and Booking Holdings Inc.’s subsidiary. The commitments are mainly focused on making it easier for users to access information about travel offers before making a purchase. 

Photo: Unsplash

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