Budapest [Unsplash] set for expedited fee probe by watchdog in Hungary

Hungary: The Hungarian competition watchdog [GVH] is set to launch an expedited probe against due to debts owned to hosts and other property owners in the country, as reported by the national news wire MTI.

A probe, which could last up to 30 days, is expected to be initiated by the end of the month, according to GVH president Csaba Balázs Rigó.

The Hungarian Parliament’s tourism subcommittee is currently investigating allegations that owes “several billion forints of debts”, according to Kristóf Szatmáry, an MP with the right-wing Fidesz [Hungarian Civic Alliance] party. Szatmáry also claimed that the online travel agency had been “abusing its scale and dominant market position”.

In each case, will typically take payment from the customer and then pay the host once it has deducted fees and commission.

A recent post on a social media page belonging to the Hungarian Association of Apartment Hosts suggested that had cited maintenance of its financial system between 1-11 July as a reason why payments for guests booking stays between 28 June and 19 July would be delayed until 24 July, with normal service to resume from 27 July onwards.

Reports from Hungary have suggested that was unable to meet those deadlines and extended them several times.

A survey carried out by the Hungarian Tourism Agency [Magyar Turisztikai Ügynökség, or MTÜ] quoted in Daily News Hungary revealed that 80 per cent of hosts who participated had not received their accommodation fee from on time and that only 15 per cent of accommodation providers in Hungary had received their accommodation fee, albeit after a considerable delay.

Some accommodation providers have complained that they are owed as much as two million forints [more than €5,000] as a result of the delay in receiving payments during the peak holiday season, and are subsequently struggling to make ends meet without being able to accept new bookings.

Aniko Suhajda-Molnar, deputy head of the MTÜ, said that 26 per cent of those surveyed said that they had not received any notifications about issues with payment delays, adding that still owes over one million forints [€2,500] to almost 700 accommodation providers.

The MTÜ has offered legal assistance to affected hosts and property owners for the duration of the absence of payments, and has also launched a helpline to support those concerned.

Szatmáry added that the tourism subcommittee will continue exerting pressure on unless the payments owed to hosts and owners in Hungary are made by the start of next week.

Three years ago, was fined 2.5 billion forints [€6.4 million] by the GVH for “misleading advertisements” and “aggressive” sales tactics, designed to exert “psychological pressure” on consumers in Hungary.

A probe was launched on the Amsterdam-based company’s platform as far back as 2018 when its income in fees drew suspicions in Hungary.

In response at the time, a representative told Reuters that the company was “disappointed by this decision by the Hungarian Competition Authority” and that “customer data and feedback shows that the information on our platform is extremely helpful for travellers”.

Similar issues have been reported across Europe and the UK due to the planned IT system maintenance being carried out by Some hosts claim that they have waited more than a month to receive their accommodation fees in full, and that an initial 24 July payment deadline has already been extended multiple times.

A spokesperson for told the BBC: “We always strive to support our accommodation partners in the best way possible, and fully understand the importance of processing payments on time.

“We have been urgently working to resume payments, which were delayed as a result of a planned system maintenance, which we notified our accommodation partners of ahead of time, and can confirm that payments have now been processed and the majority of our partners have now received payment.

“In a small number of cases, there have been unforeseen technical issues that are being quickly resolved by our team,” it added.

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