As part of its ongoing work in relation to online reviews the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) became aware that people who had arrived at a property, but chose not to stay there when they saw it, were unable to leave reviews through the automatic system. Reviews could only be left with the assistance of Airbnb’s customer services department. This could include customers who had left early because they were unhappy with the property or the host.
Following enquiries by the CMA, Airbnb Ireland UC (‘Airbnb’) offered to change its reviews system and has given the CMA a commitment to do this by 31 August 2017.
Guests will now be able to leave feedback with important information, such as the suitability of the host or the accommodation, or the reason they chose not to stay (or to cut short their stay), regardless of whether they cancelled on the day of check-in or during their visit.
The CMA welcomes Airbnb’s cooperation and the company’s prompt action and commitment to making improvements to its system.
Gordon Ashworth, CMA Project Director, said:
Airbnb is a popular platform used by people searching for accommodation, and the online reviews and opinions left by other guests are an important source of information.
It’s therefore imperative that customers are able to access the complete picture about a property they are considering booking.
We were concerned that, if someone cut short their stay, it was too hard for them to leave a review under Airbnb’s existing reviews system and so we are pleased that Airbnb engaged constructively with us and committed to making the necessary changes.
Notes for editors
The CMA is the UK’s primary competition and consumer authority. It is an independent non-ministerial government department with responsibility for carrying out investigations into mergers, markets and the regulated industries and enforcing competition and consumer law. For more information see the CMA’s homepage on GOV.UK.
This work comes as a result of CMA work into online reviews and endorsements, including a call for information in 2015.
The CMA considers that review sites should publish genuine reviews, including negative reviews, provided they are genuine, lawful and relevant. Failure to publish genuine reviews may breach consumer protection legislation, in particular the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs). Only a court can decide whether a particular practice breaks the law.
Airbnb has cooperated fully with the CMA’s enquiries into how its review system operates in relation to this issue. The provision of undertakings by Airbnb is not an admission of a breach of the law.
The changes to Airbnb’s system will go live no later than 31 August. For CMA updates, follow us on Facebook, Twitter @CMAgovuk, Youtube and LinkedIn.
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