Airbnb Australia busted for misleading dollar sign

Airbnb has come under fire for allegedly tricking it's users into believing local accommodation prices were in Australian dollars, when they were instead in US dollars.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) claims that Airbnb misled thousands of Australians when they displayed only a dollar sign over a three year period between January 2018 and August 2021.

The consumer watchdog said Airbnb failed to make it clear the prices were in US dollars.

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ACCC boss Gina Cass-Gottleib.

"While on at least some occasions Airbnb referred to the price as 'USD' in small font on the last page of the booking process, this happened only after the platform had already displayed numerous dollar ('$') amounts on earlier pages, without nearby reference to US dollars, and after the consumer had clicked to 'reserve' their accommodation," the ACCC said in a statement.

ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said that consumers were "deprived" of the opportunity to make an informed decision about their accommodation booking.

"In addition to paying higher prices than expected, some consumers who were charged in US dollars also found themselves further out of pocket through currency conversion fees charged by their credit card provider," she said.

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Airbnb is under fire from the Australian consumer watchdog for misleading thousands of Australian users over a three year period.

The ACCC allege that "thousands' of people complained to the accommodation provider, only to be blamed for selecting the USD currency themselves, when often they hadn't.

"Airbnb did not compensate many consumers who complained about this conduct, and so we will be arguing that the court should order Airbnb to compensate people who were misled about the price of their accommodation," Cass-Gottlieb said.

"Despite thousands of consumers complaining to Airbnb about the way prices were displayed, Airbnb didn't amend its booking platform until after the ACCC raised the issue."

The ACCC is enforcing digital platforms like Airbnb to "ensure the accuracy of all statements that may affect consumers' purchasing decisions".

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