The ACCC considers that Airbnb, since November 2012, and eDreams, from January to December 2014, engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct and made misleading representations by failing to adequately disclose to consumers in Australia particular mandatory fees on key pages of one or more of their online booking platforms.
The ACCC has accepted court enforceable undertakings from Airbnb Ireland (Airbnb) and Vacaciones eDreams, SL (eDreams) following concerns that the companies made online price representations to consumers in Australia that were in breach of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
The ACCC considers there were occasions where Airbnb failed to adequately disclose a mandatory service fee and also a cleaning fee, where applied by an accommodation host, on Search Results pages and Accommodation Listing pages on its website, mobile site and apps accessible in Australia.
The ACCC also considers that eDreams:
These matters were raised by the ACCC as part of its commitment to addressing problematic drip pricing practices during online purchasing processes across a number of business sectors including airline, ticketing, and accommodation services. Drip Pricing is where a headline price is advertised at the beginning of an online purchasing process and additional fees and charges (which may be unavoidable for consumers) are then incrementally disclosed (or ‘dripped’).
“The law does not prevent traders from charging fees. However, it does require that fees are disclosed clearly to avoid consumers being misled,” ACCC Chairman Mr Sims said.
Airbnb and eDreams have each acknowledged the ACCC’s concerns and cooperated with the ACCC during its investigation. Both companies have separately undertaken to improve their pricing practices such that mandatory fees will be incorporated into prices displayed, or otherwise disclosed, on key pages during the booking flow to ensure consumers are given accurate price information ‘up front’.