The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has found that accommodation sharing services Airbnb Ireland (Airbnb) and Vacaciones eDreams, SL (eDreams) have deceived Australians by obscuring mandatory charges.

The Commission investigated the two companies after consumers complained that compulsory cleaning and service fees were not clearly shown on online accommodation listings.

The ACCC said Airbnb appeared to have been engaged in the deception the longest – since November 2012 – and eDreams from January to December 2014.

Commission Chairman Rod Sims said both companies had: “engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct and made misleading representations by failing to adequately disclose to consumers in Australia particular mandatory fees on key pages of one or more of their online booking platforms.”

Airbnb had “failed to adequately disclose” mandatory service and cleaning fees charged by accommodation hosts on search results pages and accommodation listing pages on its website, mobile site and apps accessible in Australia, said the Commission.

eDreams was accused of not making service and payment fees clear on some of the booking pages of its mobile site and app and failing to show a single price inclusive of mandatory service and payment fees on parts of its website.

Drip pricing is where a headline price is advertised at the start of an online transaction but additional fees and charges, which may be unavoidable for consumers, are then gradually disclosed (or ‘dripped’).

“Drip feeding consumers with information about charges can cause detriment to competition and result in consumers paying a higher price than the advertised price or spending more than they realise,” Mr Sims said.

“The law does not prevent traders from charging fees. However, it does require that fees are disclosed clearly to avoid consumers being misled.”

Read more here