The practices of geopricing (price discrimination of the exact same product or service offered to consumers depending on their geographic location) and geoblocking (denial of supply based on the consumer’s location ) were once again discussed by the National Consumer Secretariat of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security (Senacon/MJSP). On 06/21/2022, the Secretariat decided to impose a fine of R$ 2.5 million on Decolar.com, after the company’s appeal, for offering different prices to consumers inside and outside of Brazil, privileging foreign customers (geopricing) and hiding the availability of accommodations from Brazilian consumers (geoblocking).
The first decision in this process, initiated by a complaint from Booking.com, is from 2018. In its complaint, Booking.com submitted to Senacon simulations made on Decolar.com’s website with price and availability surveys of hotels made with computers based in Brazil x Argentina. The simulation confirmed that the company offered the same reservations and accommodations, on the same dates, at different rates, depending on the country where the search was based (on average, values were up to 29% higher for Brazilian consumers).
In an unprecedented understanding, until then, the Department of Consumer Protection and Defense (DPDC), who had analyzed the case, considered that there had been discrimination against consumers on account of ethnicity and geographic location, which would constitute an abusive practice and an imbalance in the market and of consumption. This would be because they violated consumer freedom of choice in contracting. In view of this, a fine of R$ 7.5 million was imposed on Decolar.com.
The decision issued on 06/21/2022 reviewed an appeal filed by Decolar.com, reaffirming that the price differences had been based on the tax differences of each country. Senacon only partially accepted the appeal, reducing the fine to R$ 2.5 million. However, it highlighted that the infractions violated the consumer’s right to complete, free, and useful information for their full ability to exercise their freedom of choice.