Stay Vigilant Online as Consumers

On 7 June 2022, a concise statement was filed by ACCC, the applicant in relation to the matter ACCC v Airbnb & Anor (‘Short title’) in the Federal Court of Australia through the Victoria court registry. It concerned the way in which Airbnb allegedly displayed its pricing on its website and apps revealing the cunning means consumers can be deceived online.

The alleged claim was the action of manipulating the dollar sign (‘$’) deceiving consumers that accommodations were priced in AUD while the system lodged the transaction in USD utilising the similar symbol used by Australia and the United States. For example, hypothetically, a booking advertised to what seems to be $100 AUD a night will deduct around $150 from a consumer’s bank because the pricing structure used in the system was USD and the currency conversion is $1 AUD to $0.68 USD.

However, the matter discussed against the alleged actions of Airbnb is one of many examples that can be experienced online as the internet is a vast platform. Consumers need to be aware and carefully scrutinise every detail during an online transaction as current technological advancements have simplified the process to be completed in 1-2 steps.

The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (cth) is the overarching statutory power that can help identify whether, as a consumer, you have been subject to an improper practice. Pursuant to Schedule 2 of the Legislation under ‘The Australian Consumer Law’, consumers are protected against the following unfair practices:

  • Misleading or deceptive conduct
  • Unconscionable conduct
  • Multiple pricing of goods and/or services
  • Etc.

It is important, as consumers, to keep yourself safe when dealing with goods and/or services online as contact between the buyer and seller is less secure as face-to-face business dealings. The online platform is an uncertain environment, and any person can be subjected to improper practices even when goods and/or services providers are claimed to be reliable.

If you feel to have been subject to a breach of consumer law online, please feel free to contact Foulsham & Geddes and our solicitors will provide the best possible legal advice with regards to your rights and possible actions against improper practices.