Australia fines Airbnb more than $10 million for defrauding users

An Australian court this Wednesday ordered the company Airbnb Ireland pay a fine of 15 million Australian dollars (10.2 million US dollars or 9.3 million euros) and similar compensation for defrauding about 63,000 customers in the country by quoting their prices in foreign currencies.

Airbnb Ireland, which operates the booking website and apps for users in Australia, admitted that between January 1, 2018 and August 30, 2021. charged in US dollars for accommodation in an ocean country instead of the local dollar, without specifying what kind of currency it was.

The value of the US dollar is historically higher than the Australian dollar, and the current exchange rate is US$1 to A$1.48.

Thus, Australian Federal Court Judge Sean McElwain noted that Airbnb violates Australian laws because “engaged in conduct that was misleading or deceptive” This is stated in the resolution published today on the court portal.

Photo: Reuters Archive

While the additional revenue generated by Airbnb cannot be estimated “exactly”, the difference in prices charged by the platform during that period is estimated to be around A$16.8 million. (11.38 million US dollars or 10.4 million euros), added the resolution.

“Airbnb generated revenue, not profit, of approximately A$9 million from the bookings in question. (6 million US dollars or 5.6 million euros)”– clarified the court document.

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For her part, Gina Kass-Gottlieb, president of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which filed a lawsuit against Airbnb, said that the platform deprived its clients of the opportunity to make an informed decision” because of “this deceptive behavior.”

Photo: Reuters

Image: Reuters

“We took this opportunity to send a clear signal to large digital platforms like Airbnb that “They must comply with Australian consumer law and not mislead consumers.” This is stated in a statement by Kass-Gottlieb, published today on the website of the supervisory authority.

In addition to the fine, Airbnb will compensate affected customers totaling A$15 million, as well as covering the ACCC’s legal costs.

This is an amount of about 230 Australian dollars (155.6 US dollars or 142 euros) per capita, the ACCC clarified, adding that as a result of complaints Airbnb clearly states from August 31, 2021. the type of currency you use to pay for your stay.


Source: Aristegui Noticias