Airbnb sued by ACCC for ‘misleading’ customers into thinking they were paying in Aus dollars


Airbnb sued by watchdog for allegedly misleading customers into forking out hundreds extra for bookings after they thought they were paying in Australian dollars

  •  The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is suing Airbnb
  •  Watchdog claims Airbnb did not tell customers they were paying in US dollars
  •  Customers were paying hundreds more after not realising the conversion
  • The ACCC alleges Airbnb didn’t pay back the money when people complained 

Travel accommodation company Airbnb is being sued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for allegedly misleading customers.

The ACCC alleges between January 2018 and August 2021, Airbnb displayed prices on its website for Australian accommodation without making it clear the prices were in US dollars.

‘We allege that Airbnb’s misleading conduct meant that consumers were deprived of the opportunity to make an informed choice about whether, and at what price, to book their holiday accommodation on the Airbnb platform,’ ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said on Wednesday.

‘In addition to paying higher prices than expected, some consumers who were charged in US dollars also found themselves further out of pocket through currency conversion fees charged by their credit card provider.’

ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb spoke about the watchdog's case against Airbnb on Wednesday

ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb spoke about the watchdog’s case against Airbnb on Wednesday

Airbnb is being taken to court by the ACCC over the currency changes

Airbnb is being taken to court by the ACCC over the currency changes

When thousands of people complained to Airbnb about being charged more than the displayed price, the company allegedly falsely told many they had selected the US currency.

During the alleged offending period, an Australian customer who believed they were paying $500 for their booking would have paid almost $A700 before conversion fees.

‘Airbnb did not compensate many consumers who complained about this conduct,’ Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.

‘Despite thousands of consumers complaining to Airbnb about the way prices were displayed, Airbnb didn’t amend its booking platform until after the ACCC raised the issue.’ 

‘So we will be arguing that the court should order Airbnb to compensate people who were misled about the price of their accommodation.’

The ACCC filed the claim in the Federal Court on Tuesday, seeking compensation for affected consumers and other orders.

AAP has contacted Airbnb for comment.

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