Airbnb should be more transparent

By | Category: Travel news

According to Věra Jourová, the EU commissioner responsible, among other things, for consumer affairs issued a statement on Monday saying that Airbnb must be more transparent both in its terms and conditions and how it presents pricing.

What Jourová seems to be doing is bringing Airbnb into the same rules and regulations that were tightened on airlines, tour operators and online travel agents some years ago. Then , you might remember, the prices that were advertised or appeared on the first page of a website were not necessarily the prices that we eventually paid. There were administrative charges that suddenly came into play on the final page as the bill was paid or credit card charge fees or any number of little charges that came into play.

Now Jourová has turned her attention to Airbnb saying that it is not complying with EU consumer rules, particular the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, the Unfair Contract terms Directive and the regulation on the jurisdiction in civil and commercial matters and giving it until August to come up with what it oroposes to do so that the EU can see if it addresses all the questions.

What the EU wants is that “Airbnb should:

  • 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 the applicable mandatory charges and fees, such as service and cleaning charges, or, when it is not possible to calculate the final price in advance, clearly inform the consumer that additional fees might apply;
  • clearly identify if the offer is made by a private host or a professional, as the consumer protection rules differ.”

The reason why the EU wants it to be made clear whether the offer is made by a private person or professionals is that different rules apply with tougher regulations on professionals.

I have only two questions. Why is it that it took the EU so long to realise that Airbnb was not conforming to the law since the rest of the travel industry was brought into line many years ago? And does the same breach of regulations apply to Airbnb rivals?


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