Google’s Cyber Scam

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If you're one of the millions of Americans shopping online today on "Cyber Monday," be careful. You can't trust Google Shopping to show you the best price.

A Consumer Watchdog study found that, more often than not, the item featured in the Google Shopping result is not the lowest price. For 8 out of 14 items we searched for, the price was higher on Google Shopping than the same item was on a competing comparison shopping engine like Nextag, Shopzilla or Pricegrabber. Read the study here.

Google has become most people's gateway to the Internet. When you type in a product, say "electric drill," in Google's search box, Google responds with links to relevant websites, articles and clearly labeled ads. It also offers suggestions from its Google Shopping service, with photographs of specific camera models.

Most people likely expect these to be Google's suggestions for best prices. However, there is nothing to indicate these are in fact ads and that the seller pays Google and bids to be featured in Google Shopping. The electric drill we searched for cost 49% more on Google Shopping than on other sites.

For more information about Google's cyber scam, watch KABC's feature on our report here.

There are great deals to be found online, but Google Shopping doesn't usually feature those deals. The Internet giant is concerned first about maximizing its profit from retailers, not about saving you money. It all makes sense when you understand that you aren't Google's customer. You are Google's product, being sold to the highest bidder.

That's why I'm meeting with the Federal Trade Commission in Washington to make sure Google is more forthcoming with information regarding its corporate relationships and product sponsorships.

John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson is an American consumer rights advocate and former journalist. Since 2005, he has worked for Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group, as the lead researcher on Inside Google, the group's effort to educate the public about Google's dominance over the internet and the need for greater online privacy.

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