Airbnb ordered to make holiday home prices more transparent

Barcelona, where the planners have done a magnificent job of making the city people friendly.

Popular holiday destinations such as Barcelona benefit from the services of Airbnb – but what’s the price like? Picture by Bill Heaney
By Lucy Ashton
On-line accommodation platform Airbnb has been criticised by the European Commission for a lack of transparency in the presentation of its prices and ordered to clean up its act or face enforcement action.

EU commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality Vera Jourová said Airbnb’s current pricing presentation, as well as a number of its terms, do not comply with several EU directives governing consumer rights.

European consumer authorities and the European Commission have demanded a number of changes from Airbnb. The company has until the end of August to present their proposals.

Once Airbnb proposes solutions to rectify the issues highlighted, the commission and EU consumer authorities will review the proposed changes. If they are not deemed satisfactory, Airbnb could face an enforcement action.

“More and more consumers book their holiday accommodation online and this sector has brought many new opportunities to holidaymakers,” said Ms Jourová. “But popularity cannot be an excuse for not complying with EU consumer rules.

“Consumers must easily understand what for and how much they are expected to pay for the services and have fair rules e.g. on cancellation of the accommodation by the owner. I expect Airbnb to follow up swiftly with the right solutions.”

Among the issues facing Airbnb is price transparency and “other unfair commercial practices”. The presentation of Airbnb’s pricing, as well as the distinction between private and professional hosts currently does not comply with EU law.

Airbnb has been told to modify the way it presents information on pricing from the initial search on their website in order to ensure that whenever properties are offered the consumer is provided with the total price inclusive of all charges and fees.

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