The global shared economy online accommodation platform Airbnb has given in to pressure from the European Commission pressure and will change the way it advertises the fees for its popular room-booking service, in order to avoid multi-million fines.
As the EU executive announced on Thursday, the San-Francisco based platform had passed a year-long probe by its consumer watchdog, the Consumer Protection Cooperation Network. According to the Commission’s assessments, Airbnb had brought its operations into line with the standards set in EU consumer law.
Following calls from the European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová and EU consumer authorities since last July, the platform that was slapped with an ultimatum has now vowed to align tactics on prime presentation. “For these summer holidays, Europeans will simply get what they see when they book their holidays. Comparing and booking online hotel or accommodation has made it fast and easy for consumers,” said Jourová.
In breach of the EU’s unfair commercial practices directive, Aribnb’s unfair contract terms directive and the regulation on jurisdiction in civil and commercial matters.“Now consumers can also trust that the price they see on the first page will be the price to pay in the end. I am very satisfied that Airbnb stood ready to cooperate with the European Commission and national consumer protection authorities to improve the way its platform works,” added Jourová. “I expect other platforms to follow suit.”
The app, which allows homeowners to rent out their homes or rooms for short periods, has become increasingly popular in recent years because of the competitive prices it offers in comparison with hotels. The Commission’s assessment found the company will no longer hide mandatory fees when a customer searches for accommodation, as it happened before in the latest booking staged.
Airbnb will from now on clearly distinguish if an accommodation offer is put on the market by a private host or a professional, and will provide an easily accessible link to the Online Dispute Resolution platform on its website and all the necessary information related to dispute resolution.
The company had also revised its terms of service in which it makes clear that users can bring a case against Airbnb before the courts of their country of residence. Further more, Airbnb will now respect users’ basic legal rights to sue a host in case of personal harm or other damages and commits not to unilaterally change the terms and conditions without clearly informing users in advance and without giving them the possibility to cancel the contract.
The EU executive said it was satisfied that Airbnb has “improved and fully clarified the way it presents accommodation offers to consumers” and the company will now avoid the prospect of hefty fines for not complying with EU rules.