Airbnb cooperates with European Commission on consumer offerings

Europe: After negotiations with Airbnb, The European Commission has confirmed that the platform has improved and fully clarified the way it presents accommodation offers to consumers.

It announced Airbnb had brought its operations into line with the standards set in EU consumer law, following calls from the European Commission and EU consumer authorities last July.

Věra Jourová, commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality, said: “For these summer holidays, Europeans will simply get what they see when they book their holidays. Comparing and booking online hotel or accommodation has made it fast and easy for consumers.

“Now consumers can also trust that the price they see on the first page will be the price to pay in the end. I am very satisfied that Airbnb stood ready to cooperate with the European Commission and national consumer protection authorities to improve the way its platform works.

“I expect other platforms to follow suit,” she added.

In an announcement, The Commission said Airbnb had addressed all of its demands, as well as those made by national consumer protection authorities, led by the Norwegian Consumer Authority, to bring their practices and terms fully in line with EU consumer rules.

Here are the main improvements and changes listed:

• In accommodation searches with selected dates, users see the total price in the results page, including all the applicable mandatory charges and fees (such as service, cleaning charges and local taxes). There are now no surprise mandatory fees appearing on later pages;

• Airbnb clearly distinguishes if an accommodation offer is put on the market by a private host or a professional;

• Airbnb provides an easily accessible link to the Online Dispute Resolution platform on its website and all the necessary information related to dispute resolution.

• Airbnb also revised its terms of service in which it:

– makes clear that users can bring a case against Airbnb before the courts of their country of residence;
– respects users’ basic legal rights to sue a host in case of personal harm or other damages;
– commits not to unilaterally change the terms and conditions without clearly informing users in advance and without giving them the possibility to cancel the contract.

A joint assessment was carried out on Airbnb’s practices and terms of service by The Consumer Protection Cooperation Network, under the facilitation of the European Commission and the lead of the Norwegian Consumer Authority (Forbrukertilsynet).

According to The European Commission, The EU Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation connects national consumer authorities in a pan-European enforcement network. As such, a national authority in one EU country can “request the assistance of other authorities in another EU country to stop a cross-border infringement of EU consumer law”.

For more information, visit The European Commission website here.

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