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Consumer Group Asks Justice Department To Block Expedia-Orbitz Merger

WSOC TV-9 - Charlotte, NC
http://www.wsoctv.com/news/business/consumer-advice/consumer-group-asks-justice-department-block-exped/nnJ3f/

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Three of the biggest names in travel -- Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity -- could end up as one company.

This affects a lot of people.

The numbers vary depending on who you ask, but it's safe to say roughly 50 million people check out those three companies every month.

The consumer group Consumer Watchdog is worried about a monopoly and asking the U.S. Department of Justice to break up the deal. It sent the department a letter asking the federal government to block the merger, saying Expedia will control 75 percent of the online booking market.

 "Seventy-five percent of any market is a tremendous amount of power. It would give them the ability to raise up the fees that they charge the hotels for bookings and those higher fees would inevitably be passed on to folks like you and me and we would have to pay for that," Consumer Watchdog's John Simpson told Action 9.

 Early this year, Expedia bought Travelocity. 

Then, in February, it announced plans to merge with Orbitz. 

Expedia officials wouldn't go on camera, but sent Action 9 a statement, saying the "travel market is more fiercely competitive than ever" and that the company would still be competing with sites like Google, Kayak, Priceline and Tripadvisor. 

If the merger goes through, Expedia plans to finalize it by the end of the year.