Airbnb in breach of European Union consumer rules

Cornelia Mascio
Luglio 17, 2018

The accommodation service has been accused by the European commission and national regulators of failing its customers and making the mistake of many global digital firms of "forgetting its responsibilities". "But popularity can not be an excuse for not complying with European Union consumer rules", said Vera Jourova, the European Union consumer affairs commissioner.

The European Union said Monday that Airbnb has until the end of August to address consumer complaints that the US company's pricing and booking system can be misleading.

The site did not clearly identify if the offer of accommodation was being made by amateur hosts or professionals.

Consumer protection rules differ according to which of the two applies. If the company does not change the way it operates by the end of August, then it could face legal action.

"Consumers must easily understand what for and how much they are expected to pay for the services and have fair rules e.g. on cancellation of the accommodation by the owner", she said.

"I expect Airbnb to follow up swiftly with the right solutions", she said.

Jourová, who is from the Czech Republic, added that the commission had received some 6,000 complaints about such accommodation services past year but the EU's executive regarded that as "the tip of the iceberg".

Airbnb has more than 3 million listings
Airbnb has more than 3 million listings Credit iStock

Airbnb has said it is aiming to have one billion annual guests worldwide by 2028.

"We take this issue seriously and are committed to being as transparent as possible for our community", a spokesperson said.

This is not the first time this summer that Airbnb has had trouble with regulatory authorities.

After a 40% increase in residential rents followed a 50% rise in unregulated tourist lets, Palma de Mallorca voted in April to ban nearly all listings by Airbnb and similar sites.

Should Airbnb fail to abide by the EU's demands by the deadline, national consumer authorities in the EU's 28 member states will be empowered to issue individual fines as they see fit.

If Airbnb does not propose "detailed solutions" on fixing the problems by the end of next month, there will be a meeting between the company and the regulators in September.

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