Class action against “hidden costs” of Airbnb

News 28 August, 2017
  • photo: Martin Alarie, the Journal de Montréal
    Lawyer Joey Zukran and the complainant Martin Banoon, who claims to have paid 141 $ for a ” service fee “.

    Elisa Cloutier

    Monday, 28 August, 2017 00:01

    Monday, 28 August, 2017 00:01

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    A class action lawsuit against Airbnb has been filed with the Québec superior Court, accusing the american company to charge a service fee in an illegal manner to users of the Quebec.

    If it is ratified by a judge, the request could reach thousands of quebec travellers, while Airbnb in listed more than 820 000 in the province in 2016.

    The class action claims that the addition of service fees “hidden” in the initial price of the rental, ranging from 13% to 17%, is ” malicious and vexatious “. A practice also illegal according to the Law on the protection of the consumer, since the amount is charged at the very last stage of the transaction.

    “No merchant, manufacturer or advertising may not, by any means whatsoever, demand for a good or service at higher prices than advertised,” says the article 224 c. The collective action thus requires that these costs be added to the initial amount of rental housing.

    “141 $ without me knowing why “

    The applicant, Martin Banoon, of Montreal, contends that it was not seen that once the transaction is finalized, that it had disbursed 141 $ “service fee” for six nights, during his last vacation in Florida at the beginning of the month. This amount does not include the “cleaning fee” to cover the additional expenses incurred by guests to prepare their housing, which in turn, are identified from the outset.

    “I had already used Airbnb, but I didn’t pay attention. This time, I had a budget of $ 199 per night, but in the end, I saw my bill climb of $ 141, without me knowing why. “said Banoon.

    It is the attorney Joey Zukran LPC lawyers who handled the class action lawsuit. “I’m not to my first records in the field of consumer protection, and these service fees are without a doubt the commission of Airbnb, on each location “, he says. “This is a company that is not quebec. Either it is not aware of, because often, in this kind of cases, they [the foreign companies] to change their practices after a class action, ” says the lawyer.

    Punitive damages and compensatory

    Each affected customer could receive the total amount of the service fees paid since August 22, 2014 as compensatory damages. The lawyer also claimed an amount of $ 100 in punitive damages for each user ” deceived “. These amounts, however, must be endorsed by the judge.

    On the site of Airbnb, it is possible to obtain some details about the ” service fee “. “These fees are involved in the operation of our platform and enable us to offer services like assistance 24 h/24 during your trip,” one can read.

    The spokesman of Airbnb for Quebec, Lindsey Scully, declined to comment, ” since the question travels in a judicial process “.