Texas AG sues price-comparison Web sites

Chris Rizo Nov. 30, 2009, 12:43pm

Greg Abbott (R)

AUSTIN, Texas (Legal Newsline)-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said Monday that he has sued seven price-comparison Web sites he says are misleading online consumers.

The Republican AG says has filed an enforcement action against: Shopcartusa.com, Diduprice.com, Flyingprices.com, Digitalsaver.com, Pricingdepot.com, Everyprice.com and Lowpricedigital.com.

Abbott charges that the Internet sites appear to give shoppers an easy way to comparison shop by using a single Web page to search for a product and receive prices from multiple merchants but the sites secretly direct shoppers toward certain merchants who pay a premium.

"With this year's holiday shopping season kicking off in the midst of a down economy, many savvy Texans will try to maximize their dollars by using the Internet to research the highest-quality vendors with the lowest prices," Abbott said. "But online shoppers need to know that the Office of the Attorney General has charged multiple Web sites with unlawfully promising unbiased rankings while secretly accepting undisclosed payments for inflating sellers' online ratings."

For its part, Intercept LLC -- which operates Shopcartusa.com, Diduprice.com, Flyingprices.com, Digitalsaver.com and Pricingdepot.com -- has agreed to correct its unlawful practices and either pay a $300,000 civil penalty or cease doing business this month.

The state's enforcement action against Everyprice.com seeks civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, plus attorneys' fees. The state also seeks restitution where necessary to address financial injury to the Web sites' users.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at href="mailto:chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com">chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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