Commerce Commission receives complaints after Airbnb customers pay in foreign currencies
The Commerce Commission has received a small number of complaints about misleading currencies displayed when booking accommodation on Airbnb.
The Commerce Commission has received complaints about Airbnb after some holiday hunters were unknowingly looking for accommodation in a foreign currency.
Vanessa Horne, fair trading general manager at the Commerce Commission said it had received a small number of complaints from consumers about misleading currencies displayed when booking accommodation on Airbnb.
She could not say how many complaints she had received, or how many people accidentally paid in a different currency but said the latest incident happened in January last year.
It comes after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) commenced court proceedings against Airbnb and Airbnb Ireland UC for making false and misleading representations to consumers about pricing.
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It was alleging Australian consumers saw accommodation prices with only a dollar sign between January 2018 and August 2021, and charged consumers in United Sates dollars.
During that period the average Australian dollar to US dollar exchange rate was roughly US72 cents, meaning a $500 booking in US dollars amounted to nearly A$700.
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The ACCC also alleged that when some consumers complained to Airbnb customer support staff, they said Airbnb platform used US dollars for the booking because the consumer had selected that currency option.
Horne said the commission was following the ACCC case “with interest”. The commission had been investigating Airbnb, and assessing whether Airbnb Ireland’s standard form consumer contract included terms that could be considered unfair, since October 2020, Horne said.
Susan Wheeldon, Airbnb New Zealand and Australia country manager, said it would work with the commission.