Airbnb was held liable for not disclosing additional fees upfront and violating commercial laws regarding hidden costs and upfront disclosure of the total price of accommodation.
Airbnb was held liable for engaging in deceptive practices by hiding additional fees and violating laws related to commercial practices. CPC authorities have found that Airbnb displays search results differently depending on the specificity of the search criteria. When consumers enter specific search criteria, offers are displayed on the search results page with prices per night. However, the prices presented to the consumer on the search page do not include Airbnb's mandatory service fee and local taxes collected by Airbnb at some destinations. These additional fees are only added once the consumer proceeds to the booking page, and are not disclosed upfront. This is a clear violation of Article 7(4)(c) of Directive 2005/29/EC on Unfair Commercial Practices, which requires traders to provide the total price at the moment consumers are presented with an invitation to purchase. The omission of service, cleaning, or other applicable fees or taxes that can reasonably be calculated in advance constitutes an unfair commercial practice.
Airbnb successfully addressed the demands made by the European Commission and national consumer protection authorities, led by the Norwegian Consumer Authority, and implemented changes to comply with EU consumer rules. The changes include displaying the total price in accommodation search results, clearly indicating if an offer is made by a private host or professional, providing a link to the Online Dispute Resolution platform, and revising its terms of service to ensure users have the right to sue in case of personal harm or other damages. Airbnb also committed to informing users in advance of any changes to terms and conditions and allowing them to cancel the contract if needed.
Airbnb and Consumer Protection Cooperation Network under the facilitation of the European Commission and the lead of the Norwegian Consumer Authority
Press release | 11 July 2019
Related deceptive patterns
Hidden costs involve obscuring or omitting additional fees, charges, or costs until the user is well into the purchasing or sign-up process. By that point, the user has already invested time and effort into the transaction and is more likely to proceed despite the unexpected costs.
Promotes cooperation among EU member states to enforce consumer protection laws.
Outlines what constitutes a misleading commercial practice that could deceive the average consumer into making a transactional decision they would not have otherwise taken.
Requires traders to provide material information and not to hide or obscure it in any way, in order to avoid misleading consumers and affecting their transactional decisions.