Airbnb Confesses To Deceiving Australian Consumers by Billing in US Dollars Rather Than Local Currency

An Australian court has fined Airbnb 15 million Australian dollars ($10 million) for providing false or misleading promises to Australian users. Airbnb’s pricing policy between January 2018 and August 2021 proved deceptive for Australian users. A subtle switch of currencies, from Australian dollars to US dollars on the Airbnb platform between 2018 and 2021, sowed confusion among unsuspecting users. This seemingly minor detail ultimately led to a major shock for over 63,000 clients, who unknowingly faced unexpected US dollar charges on their bills.

On top of the fine, Airbnb was ordered to pay AU$400,000 in prosecution costs, adding to the sting of their oversight.

Airbnb amended its platform on August 31, 2021, to denote prices in U.S. dollars through the abbreviation “USD.” The company’s regional manager, Susan Wheeldon, apologized to the affected guests and emphasized the company’s commitment to price transparency and improving its systems.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) sued Airbnb for misleading consumers about accommodation prices. The commission’s chair, Gina Cass-Gottlieb, stated that large digital platforms like Airbnb must comply with Australian consumer law and not mislead consumers.

Over the past three years, almost 2,000 Australian consumers have lodged complaints with Airbnb. Airbnb had previously faulted customers for specifying costs in US dollars, including those who had not done so. Airbnb’s global headquarters are in San Francisco, but its Australian website and apps are managed by Airbnb Ireland UC, based in Dublin.

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