DURBAN - The European Union's consumer regulators have asked Airbnb to change the way that they display prices and the wording of specific terms in their terms of service.
According to the commission, the terms of service are not transparent enough and do not provide consumers with enough information.
The EU has given Airbnb until the end of August to comply.
The EU commissioner for consumers Vera Jourova said in a statement that more consumers book their holidays online and it has brought in new opportunities for holidaymakers, however, popularity cannot be an excuse for not abiding the consumer rules of the EU.
Jourova added that consumers must understand what for and how much they are supposed to pay for the services and have fair rules, for example, on the cancellation of the accommodation by the owner.
One of the issues at hand concerns the way that Airbnb present their holiday book and whether it is clear to the overseas booker that are travelling to Europe for vacation if a hists is a casual Airbnb user offering private accommodation or a professional host.
The European Union has different rules for private and professional businesses.
Another issue is the way that the accommodation service breaks down the price that the consumer sees before the booking and the final price which may be different depending on factors like taxes, fees and other costs.
The announcement from the EU said that both the consumer authorities and the commission will meet, if need be, with Airbnb in September to sort out any outstanding matters.
According to the statement, if Airbnb's proposals are not considered satisfactory then the consumer authorities could decide to resort to enforcement actions.
As mentioned above the EU is also pushing for the accommodation company to alter their terms of service so that certain protections are provided such as the consumer having the right to sue a host in the event of harm or damages.
The EU commission also wants Airbnb to communicate their refund policy better and to provide clarity and amend certain parts of the cancellation and contract termination better to better protect consumers.
In a statement, Airbnb said that they take this matter very seriously and they are committed to being as transparent as possible for the Airbnb community.
Airbnb and the World Cup
Despite the pressure from the EU commission, Airbnb benefitted greatly from the world and during this time a lot of Europeans were using the accommodation service.
Since June 14th, more than 277 000 guests checked into homes booked through Airbnb all over Russia. 76% of the guests were people from overseas countries. These countries include the United States of America, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Australia and Peru.
European guests were from countries like the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.
There were 54 000 guest arrivals from the US, 1200 guest arrivals from Italy and more than 1000 guest arrivals from the Netherlands during the four week period.
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