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Airbnb Addressing Two Huge Complaints: Hidden Fees and Chores

Airbnb Addressing Two Huge Complaints: Hidden Fees and Chores. Credit: Public Domain

Airbnb has come to a conclusion that fees typically added at the end of a user’s selection will now be shown from the beginning in the search results.

The decision came about after facing multiple complaints that prices skyrocketed once reaching the end of the booking. For that reason, cleaning and service fees will no longer be hidden from the user. Taxes, however, will still come up only once reaching payment. The total will also appear on the map, filter, and listing page. The company stated that they will inform hosts that any requests for visitors who are checking out should be reasonable and clear to them before booking.

Desire for high-quality

The sudden about-face is due to users who have taken to social media to complain about a laundry list of tasks they needed to take care of before checking out. Some apparently likened the experience to being assigned chores.

“I’ve heard you loud and clear—you feel like prices aren’t transparent and checkout tasks are a pain,” CEO Brian Chesky said on Twitter.

Among the Airbnb changes, the main priority is to give the total price instead of merely one over night in the algorithm that affects search rankings. That means that the highest quality houses, in combination with the best total prices, will rank first if there are similar options in the area.

“Highest quality” refers to “a number of factors, including reviews,” spokeswoman Liz DeBold Fusco said.

Affordability important today

“We started as an affordable alternative to hotels, and affordability is especially important today,” Chesky wrote on Twitter.

“Guests should not have to do unreasonable checkout tasks such as stripping the beds, doing the laundry, or vacuuming when leaving their Airbnb,” the company said in its news release. “But we think it’s reasonable to ask guests to turn off the lights, throw food in the trash, and lock the doors—just like they would when leaving their own home.”

Nevertheless, what the statement didn’t make clear was if those guidelines would be enforced by hosts. At present, if a request before booking is confusing to a user, Airbnb will work with hosts to “address the feedback,” the Airbnb spokeswoman said.

The company also has yet to provide confirmation of when the new pricing system will take place.

The trigger for change

The change was triggered by a broader crackdown under the Biden administration of often hidden Airbnb charges. In September, for example, the Department of Transportation said it was proposing a new rule to force airlines to disclose certain fees along with fare and schedule information.

The Federal Trade Commission said last month that it was looking for comments on the harms caused by “junk fees” or “unnecessary, unavoidable, or surprise charges that inflate costs while adding little to no value.” The aim of the department is to explore a new ruling on the subject.

Airbnb states that forty-five percent of active listings around the world do not have a cleaning fee, and, for those that do, it accounts for less than ten percent of the total cost.

The new laws in the U.S. would follow in the footsteps of countries such as Britain, Ireland, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, and Korea where, according to Airbnb, they already require the company to list the total cost, including fees and any occupancy tax.

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