Airbnb settles Quebec lawsuit over pricing; changes practice across Canada

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FILE - In this Feb. 22, 2018 file photo, Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky speaks during an event in San Francisco. Airbnb says it had its best quarter ever, even as cities across the U.S. have started clamping down on the short-term rental market. The private San Francisco-based company said Friday, Nov. 16, 2018 its revenue for the third quarter easily topped $1 billion as guest reservations boomed internationally in places like Beijing, Mexico City and Birmingham, England. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

MONTREAL:  Airbnb users in Quebec have reached a settlement with the company over pricing transparency that has changed the way the company displays prices across Canada.

Customers represented by LPC Avocat Inc. launched a class-action case in 2017 claiming that the company added between 13 and 17 per cent to the total price as service fees at the last step of checkout, in what they said was a violation of Quebec’s Consumer Protection Act.

The company denied it violated the law, but the two sides reached a settlement on the lawsuit in September that will see Quebec users potentially given up to $45 in Airbnb credits.

As a result of the lawsuit, Airbnb changed the way it displays pricing on the site as of June 26 to include guest fees in the search results page to provide a more all-inclusive price. Only taxes and optional costs or services should be added late.

The company said in a statement that it has made the changes across Canada.

“Airbnb has made a product change related to the way that pricing is displayed on our platform to residents in Canada. This change comes as a result of a preliminary agreement for Quebec residents who were using Airbnb to book accommodations.”

The company said it wouldn’t comment more because the matter is still before the courts, but will have more to say later. It said it has already reached out to those impacted by the previous pricing system.

The proposed settlement is still waiting for approval from the Superior Court of Quebec, which will hold a hearing about it on Dec. 3.

Under the settlement, Quebec residents who booked on the Airbnb platform between Aug. 22, 2014 and June 26, 2019, where there was a higher price at checkout than on the first stage of browsing, could be in line for up to $45 in Airbnb credits.

LPC Avocat says the settlement totals $3 million worth of credits.

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