Airbnb slugged with $15 million penalty for misleading Aussie customers

The Federal Court has ordered Airbnb to pay $15 million in penalties after it admitted to misleading Australian consumers.

Airbnb admitted “making false or misleading representations” between January 2018 and August 2021, where pricing was assumed to be in Australian dollars, but was actually charged as US dollars. About 70,000 consumers were slugged with the higher prices.

The company has also offered “up to $15 million in compensation to eligible consumers” on top of the $15 million fine.

“Consumers were misled about the price of accommodation, reasonably assuming the price referred to Australian dollars given they were on Airbnb’s Australian website, searching for accommodation in Australia and seeing a dollar sign,” ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.

“By paying in US dollars, these consumers were charged more than they expected to pay, and were deprived of a chance to make an informed decision about whether to make the booking because of this misleading conduct regarding the price.

“We took this case to send a strong signal to large digital platforms like Airbnb that they must comply with the Australian Consumer Law and not mislead consumers.

“We are pleased with the undertaking by Airbnb to pay compensation, which provides a meaningful outcome for the affected consumers.”

Eligible consumers will be contacted by Airbnb within the next 45 days and invited to lodge a claim. The average compensation payment is expected to be about $230 per consumer.

“They can also contact Airbnb to ask about their claim if they think they are eligible for compensation and have not been contacted by that date,” Cass-Gottlieb said.


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