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ACCC institutes proceedings against Airbnb

The Australian Competition and Consumer (ACCC) has instituted proceedings against Airbnb in the Federal Court over misleading user prices.

The ACCC has alleged that Airbnb, the popular short-term rental platform, misrepresented prices to Australians by showing US dollar prices whilst on the Australia version of Airbnb. Due to the change in currency price, Australians were getting charged higher prices for their Airbnb holidays.

On the Airbnb webpage and app, prices featured a general dollar sign with no indication as to currency. It was only until after consumers had selected a rental property and reached the stage of “reserving” the property, would they be shown the payment currency. However, the ACCC contends that this is conduct deprived consumers of the opportunity to make an informed decision about whether, and at what price, to book their holiday on the Airbnb platform.

Thousands of complaints were issued to the ACCC watchdog by Australian consumers who had claimed they had been charged the wrong price. Even after all these complaints, Airbnb did not even amend its platform, but ultimately did once the ACCC raised the issue.

The ACCC is demanding that Airbnb compensate any consumers who were charged higher prices as well as compensate consumers for conversion fees between Australian and US dollars during the periods of January 2018 and August 2021. If you were affected by Airbnb’s misleading prices, you can fill out the ACCC consumer issue form.

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