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VOL. 42 | NO. 28 | Friday, July 13, 2018

EU says Airbnb must change booking system after complaints

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BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union said Monday that Airbnb has until the end of August to address consumer complaints that the U.S. company's pricing and booking system can be misleading.

The U.S. vacation rental company said it was willing to work with the EU Commission to address any issues it might have.

EU Consumer Commissioner Vera Jourova said that many consumers could be stumped now by the complicated pricing structure, which can add extra costs at the end of a holiday — for example on cleaning charges. And the booking system can leave a tourist stranded if the rental is canceled when all other arrangements have been already made.

"Consumers must easily understand what for and how much they are expected to pay for the services," Jourova said.

She wants Airbnb to change its pricing on its web site to show consumers the total price "inclusive of all the applicable mandatory charges and fees, such as service and cleaning charges."

When it is not possible to accurately calculate the final price in advance, Airbnb should clearly inform the consumer that additional fees might apply, she said. Jourova also said there should be fair rules, for example on the cancellation of the accommodation by the owner.

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

Airbnb said "we take this issue seriously and are committed to being as transparent as possible."

"Guests are made aware of all fees, including service charges and taxes, prior to confirming their decision to book a listing," it said. "We will work together with the authorities to clarify the points raised."

The EU Commission said Airbnb must also clearly distinguish between offers from a private or professional host, since different consumer protection rules apply.

Jourova wants Airbnb to come up with "detailed solutions" to bring their practices in line with EU legislation and will discuss them with the company if they are unsatisfactory.

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