Australian regulator sues Airbnb for allegedly misleading customers on pricing

Australia’s competition regulator on Wednesday said it had initiated proceedings against Airbnb Inc in the country’s Federal Court for allegedly misleading consumers on pricing for accommodation in the country.

Between January, 2018 and August, 2021, the US-based vacation rental company misled consumers in Australia by displaying prices for accommodation using only the ‘$’ sign, without clarifying that the prices were in US dollars and not in the local currency, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) said in a statement.

Airbnb did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

ACCC said it is seeking pecuniary penalties and orders to compensate people who were misled about pricing, among others.

The regulator added that when Airbnb received complaints on pricing, they told customers that prices were displayed in US dollars because the user had selected that currency, which was often not the case.

“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.

“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.”

  • Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich, of Reuters.

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