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Aussie court fines Airbnb over misleading accommodation pricing

Aussie court fines Airbnb over misleading accommodation pricing © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Figurines are seen in front of the Airbnb logo in this illustration taken February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

(Reuters) – Australia’s competition regulator on Wednesday said the Federal Court has ordered Airbnb to pay A$15 million ($10.1 million) in penalties and up to A$15 million in compensation, after the vacation rental firm admitted it misled consumers on pricing for accommodation in the country.

Between January 2018 and August 2021, Airbnb Ireland, which operates in Australia, admitted it misled consumers by displaying prices using only the ‘$’ sign, without clarifying that the prices were in U.S. dollars and not the local currency, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) said in a statement.

Airbnb did not immediately reply to Reuters’ request for comment.

“By paying in U.S. dollars, these consumers were charged more than they expected, and were deprived of a chance to make an informed decision about whether to make the booking because of this misleading conduct,” said ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb.

Airbnb, which operates an online marketplace for homestays, received over 2,000 complaints from Australian customers over being charged in U.S. dollars during this period.

The ACCC had in June 2022 initiated proceedings against the firm, alleging it made misleading representations to consumers about the currency for Australian accommodation bookings.

($1 = 1.4804 Australian dollars)

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