32.000 Airbnb customers claim money back from unjustified service charges
Around 32.000 Dutch Airbnb users collectively claimed back 6,5 million euros from the popular rental platform. According to Dutch newspaper NRC, the claimants are taking action via a number of Dutch claim companies regarding 115.000 invoices on which there were unjustified service charges.
Customers claimed back service fees from Airbnb
Airbnb charges service fees to both the consumer and property owner, which is not actually allowed. In March it came to light, thanks to an investigation by claims company Twee Heren BV, that Airbnb was charging apartment owners 3,6 percent in service fees, meanwhile charging the customer 15 percent in service fees.
This may be allowed in certain countries that Airbnb operates in, but it is against Dutch law. Since March, Twee Heren BV, in cooperation with lawyers, has received cases from 10.000 other customers to recover money from disputed charges.
Other companies have since gotten involved in the case, such as Consumentenbond, ConsumentenClaim and Appeal, many of which went to court. Users have claimed back an average of 250 euros from Airbnb for approximately 5,5 bookings per person.
Airbnb is to appeal the claims
Airbnb wants to appeal. A company spokesperson said that the court's decision is not a precedent and is in conflict with an earlier judgement of the European Court in 2019 in which Airbnb was categorised as an information service rather than a mediator. However, in March of this year, the court ruled differently: that Airbnb, according to Dutch law, is a mediator between property owners and customers.
Other rental platforms that act as mediators charge in the same way, according to research carried out by NRC. They noted that rental platforms HomeAway and Belvilla use similar fees for both owners and renters. The platform Natuurhuisjes used to charge these fees, but stopped in June.