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12 March 2019

Ombudsman supports fairer online booking rules for Aussie small businesses

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell 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.

“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,” Ms Carnell said.

“In Australia, online booking platforms Booking.com and Expedia control up to 85% of our bookings, and they are taking commissions of up to 30%; a big hit to the bottom line of a small business.

“Addressing anti-competitive practices would level the playing field between small businesses and their multinational rivals and give consumers more choice.

“We are 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.

“Outcomes of the government’s review of unfair contract term protections for small business is due shortly and with that we hope they are further strengthened to protect small businesses from these practices.”