What you need to know
- A Florida restaurant group has filed a lawsuit against Google for its "Order Online" button.
- The lawsuit alleges that Google uses deceptive practices to redirect customers to its own sites to fill orders instead of the restaurant's website.
- The group says the practice ends up costing restaurants more money by having them pay fees to delivery providers, fees they would otherwise have had to pay.
A new lawsuit has been filed against Google, but it's not for the usual suspects such as online privacy or Play Store dominance. This lawsuit is focused on the alleged deception caused by Google's "Order online" button.
Left Field Holdings, which owns a chain of Florida restaurants, recently filed a lawsuit (via Ars Technica) alleging that Google has used the "Order online" button to reroute consumers to its own website (i.e., food.google.com) instead of taking customers to the restaurant's site. From here, consumers place orders which are fulfilled by third-party delivery companies such as Seamless and Grubhub and placed at the restaurant.
The complaint states that this method lures consumers to a Google-controlled site where it is able to feed more ads. It also states that Google "purposefully designed its websites to appear to the user to be offered, sponsored, and approved by the restaurant, when they are not—a tactic, no doubt, employed by Google to increase orders and clicks."
Google is accused of using a "bait-and-switch" tactic by placing a prominent "Order online" button beneath a restaurant name, making users believe that it will take them to the restaurant's website instead of one owned and operated by Google. The lawsuit further states that because of this, restaurants are being forced to pay high fees to third-party delivery companies when they otherwise would not have had to, while Google "demands a cut-of-the-action." Thus, restaurants lose out on profit from filling such orders.
Google did not immediately respond to our request for comment but told The Verge in a statement that the lawsuit presents a "mischaracterization" of its service and that its goal is to "connect customers with restaurants they want to order food from and make it easier for them to do it through the 'Order Online' button."
The spokesperson says that Google provides merchants with the choice to offer online orders through a specific provider or their own website. They also state that Google does not receive compensation for orders made through this feature and that it plans to defend itself "vigorously" in this case.
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Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.