I was fooled twice this week into calling scam travel agencies instead of airlines thanks to misleading Google search results. It is time for Google to crack down on unsavory thieves who prey upon unsuspecting consumers.
Google Must Crack Down On Scam Travel Agencies
I do have most airline reservation numbers stored in Skype, but if I need a telephone number quickly I turn to Google…don’t we all?
I need to call Lufthansa so I googled “Lufthansa Reservations USA” and the following came up:
So I called the number.
An agent with an Indian accent picked up and said, “Lufthansa reservations. How may I help you?”
I knew something was off immediately for two reasons. First, Lufthansa does not have an Indian call center. Second, when you call Lufthansa you are greeted by music followed by a menu of automated choices before you are connected to an agent.
I asked the agent, “Is this Lufthansa?”
“Yes sir. How can I help you?”
And I proceeded to say some not nice things before hanging up.
A few days later I needed to call British Airways and googled “British Airways Reservations.” The following came up:
Without even thinking, I dialed the number. Another Indian call center. Now British Airways does outsource some reservation calls to India. But again, it struck me immediately that I was not met with the familiar Flower Duet jingle.
So I gave the agent a piece of my mind…
But really, the bigger problem is Google. Companies should not be able to game SEO for preferential search results when their object is to trick and mislead consumers.
If I was misled (and book flights for a living), think about how many infrequent travelers are swindled by doing the same thing. In fact, I’ve even written about it before.
> Read More: Scam “British Airways” Agent Defrauds My Client
It is time for Google to exercise more quality control and block these scam artists from defrauding innocent travelers. I call upon Google to tackle this issue immediately; it is a Google SEO issue, not an advertiser one. Google, it is all in your hands…
2 minutes worth of research would show that these are NOT paid adverts. A little more due dilligence is required on your part BEFORE publishing such articles.
These are “featured snippets” – “Featured Snippets are short snippets of text that appear at the top of Google’s search results in order to quickly answer a searcher’s query. The content that appears inside of a Featured Snippet is automatically pulled from web pages in Google’s index.”
The pages concerned have NOT paid Google for this position.
Who said they were paid? I never meant to imply that. I clarified that this is good SEO, not paid placement. Doesn’t change the fact that Google is to blame for this.
Yeah, those are snippets that aren’t paid placements, but rather someone structuring their content to be better picked up by Google. You’d think Lufthansa and BA, with their page authority, could structure their content so it gets pulled instead (I’m assuming overall site authority weighs into it, though not sure).
Right. This is Google’s issue and while I appreciate good SEO (as a blogger), this is simply unacceptable.
This is the least of Google’s transgressions. Big tech is out of control. Time to break them up.
I am confused…
I didn’t think travel to Germany was open to US citizens due to Covid.
Please correct me if I am wrong.
It’s not. But my wife and kids have German passports.
Has the number in question come from the domain of the airline you are trying to reach?
Neither of them, as shown in your screenshots, is either ba.com or lufthansa.com. The issue stems from you, as you put it, called them without thinking. This should be better presented as a cautionary tale to always verify things *before* you do anything and use the Feedback option, again in your screenshot, to tell them.
If you look closely at the screenshot, you can see that both “snippets” do not pull from the airline, but from other sources. Still, what a scam for most unsuspecting consumers.
I recognise that. I was pointing out the domains isnt BA or LX so people shouldnt fall into that trap if they stopped to verify what they saw. Google could work around this by only getting this info from the operator.
Oh, gotcha. Yes, Google should pull info only from airline website.
BA purposefully doesn’t want to be called. They’ve pulled the phone number from their first level “contact us” webpage and you’d have go down many layers if Q&A to find the actual phone number.
I’d still be more likely to book with the Indian scammer than Kyle
That would be to your detriment. I’d trust Kyle with my life.
This is free market capitalism. The onus is on you to not get swindled.
Or do you want regulations for this? Google should do something sounds very similar to government should do something.
We can start by asking Google. If they want to screw consumers, then let the federal government get involved if they wish to do business in the United States.
Google is evil. They badly need regulating or to be broken up. When AT&T was split up, they held less power than Google does now.
Absolutely agree. Google, like Facebook, wants to take all the profit without taking any responsibility. Evil.
This problem for any service you search for and all the adds that come up above the results makes google less and less useful. It has driven me to other search engines. Incidentally, I find it better to call from the airline’s own app contact page.
But Google is sadly still king. The recent algorithm change did wonders for this poor blog (I’m being facetious)…
duckduckgo has less features than google, but sometimes that’s a good thing.
One second looking at the URL and it would’ve saved you the hour it took you to write this useless article. As usual, Klint is making a fuss out of nothing, or something of his own doing.
I also love “ I call upon Google to tackle this issue immediately; it is a Google SEO issue, not an advertiser one. Google, it is all in your hands…”.
Did he send a link to this post to…someone, anyone…at Google? Or just assume that they must be readers of the blog, lol? Keep shouting into the ether, dude.
This is a massively racist and unrelated comment. It should be removed, @Matthew Klint.
I typically leave up racist comments and let people hang themselves. In this case, the comment felt like a troll and I have removed it.
This is why phishing works.
You bit the worm.
Luckly you wiggled off the hook.
The tone-deaf replies and lack of empathy from those defending Google’s inaction and lack of responsibility is disturbing. These scams aren’t targeting thr tech savvy, they’re targeting your grandmother. It’s also not isn’t limited to scam airline sites, I can google for anything and pull up links from scam retail sites (often pulling photos and descriptions from Google search). I tried to report such a site to Google last year and they made it VERY difficult to even report it.