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Ombudsman supports fairer online booking rules for Aussie small businesses

Ombudsman supports fairer online booking rules for Aussie small businesses

The ASBFEO has welcomed Labor’s proposal to ban ‘price parity clauses’ from online booking contracts that restrict accommodation outlets offering discounts or deals on their own websites.

  • Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
  • March 14, 2019
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Earlier this week, Labor promised that if elected it will end the practice of rate parity in Australia and allow accommodation providers to compete and set their own room prices independent of contractual clauses imposed by booking platforms. 

Online booking platforms Booking.com and Expedia charge up to 30 per cent of the fee paid by travellers as commissions, Labor said.

"In Australia, small businesses offering accommodation are not allowed to offer a lower room rate than the one listed on an online platform, even if they have empty rooms they need to fill," Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, said.

"Addressing anti-competitive practices would level the playing field between small businesses and their multinational rivals and give consumers more choice," Ms Carnell explained. 

She noted that the ASBFEO is pleased Labor proposes to investigate the use of similar clauses across other platforms and industries. 

"We are acutely aware of the challenges that restaurants experience with the costs of being on the UberEats platform.

"We also need to consider these types of contracts in light of the unfair contract terms legislation," Ms Carnell noted. 

Outcomes of the government’s review of unfair contract term protections for small business is due shortly. Ms Carnell concluded that she hopes they are further strengthened to protect small businesses. 

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