EU’s consumer protection authorities and the Commission: Airbnb must alter its price indication and terms of contract

According to the EU’s consumer protection legislation, companies should state the final price of products and services in their marketing, enabling consumers to compare options easily. At the moment, Airbnb does not do this, but various surcharges only become clear to consumers at a later stage of reservation. The network of EU consumer protection authorities and the Commission have now called on Airbnb to rectify the issue and to change its unclear and unreasonable terms of contract.

The EU’s Consumer Protection Cooperation Network (CPC) and the European Commission have pointed out to Airbnb that the prices it quotes in its marketing must be transparent. Consumers must be aware of the final price of accommodation, including all costs, such as service and cleaning charges, from the outset. In addition, consumers must be clearly informed of whether the accommodation provider is a company or private person and whether a party has paid Airbnb to have its accommodation option appear first in the search results.

Furthermore, Airbnb’s contractual terms include illegal passages. It has been pointed out to the company that it cannot, for example, unilaterally alter the terms of contract without informing consumers beforehand and providing them with the opportunity to terminate the contract. Airbnb must also clearly explain its practices relating to customers’ compensation claims and reimbursement.

At the end of August 2018, Airbnb must present the Commission and Consumer Protection Cooperation Network with a statement of how it intends to correct its practices in line with EU legislation. If the company’s proposal is unsatisfactory, the Commission and the authorities may take further action.

The project has been coordinated by the Norwegian consumer authority Forbrukertilsynet. The Consumer Ombudsman participates in the EU’s Consumer Protection Cooperation Network on Finland’s behalf.

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