Accommodation

There are so many accommodation options, and ways to search for and book your stay, that a simple trip can be overwhelming at times.

This page includes information on:

Your consumer rights

Australian Consumer Law guarantees your rights when you buy goods and services.

In fact, most products and services purchased after 1 January 2011 come with an automatic consumer guarantee that the product or service you purchased will work and do what you asked for. This includes travel and accommodation services.

Acceptable quality

When you engage a business to provide a service, you have the right to expect ‘acceptable quality’. Services must be:

  • provided with due care or skill (taking all necessary steps to avoid loss and damage)
  • fit for any specified purpose (express or implied)
  • provided in a reasonable time (when no time is set).

What is ‘reasonable’ will depend on the nature of the service, the difficulty of the task and other relevant factors.

Proof of purchase and documentation

You have the right to receive proof of purchase (like an invoice, cash register receipt, handwritten receipt or lay-by agreement). Suppliers must provide proof of purchase for goods and services worth $75 or more (excluding GST).

Phone and internet services in Australia are supplied under a contract. A written copy of the contract (including its terms and conditions) must be supplied to you. Keep this for your records and in case you need to refer to the contract terms during a dispute. For more information, refer to our contracts page.

If the service has a warranty, it will give you some extra protection against faults. Warranties generally have terms and conditions attached - it’s your responsibility to be aware of these.

Advertising

Advertising can be a powerful means of persuasion, so it’s important it is truthful, accurate and easy to understand. Australian Consumer Law protects consumers from deceptive advertising claims and conduct.

Businesses are not allowed to make false or misleading representations about their products or services. This includes advertising for phone and internet services.

Learn more about advertising standards.

Remedy when things go wrong

You are entitled to an appropriate remedy from the business when the product or service you purchased does not meet one or more of the consumer guarantees.

This might be a refund, a further service to rectify the problem and in some cases, reimbursement for damages and consequential loss. The type of remedy will depend on whether the problem is minor or major.

The type of remedy will depend on whether the problem is:

Minor

If the problem is minor and can be fixed, the business can choose how to fix the problem. You cannot cancel and demand a refund immediately. Instead, you must give the business an opportunity to fix the problem. However, if repairs take too long, you can get someone else to fix the problem and ask the business to pay reasonable costs or cancel the service and get a refund.

If the problem is major or cannot be fixed, you can choose to:

  • terminate the contract for services and request a full refund
  • seek reimbursement for the difference between the value of the services provided compared to the price paid.

For more information, see repairs, replacements & refunds.

Major

A problem is considered ‘major’ when it:

  • would have stopped someone from purchasing the service had they known about it
  • is substantially unfit for purpose and can’t be fixed in a reasonable timeframe
  • creates an unsafe situation
  • doesn't meet the specific purpose or achieve the specific result that the consumer requested.

For more information, see repairs, replacements & refunds.

Have a problem?

In Australia

  1. Contact the business in the first instance and explain the problem. If the matter is complicated and not urgent, you could write an email or letter. We have tips and sample letters to help you.
  2. If you’re unable to resolve the matter with the provider, you should contact the relevant organisation, industry body or ombudsman for dispute resolution, for example, Airbnb or the Accommodation Association of Australia.
  3. If you’re unable to resolve the matter with the business, you can contact us for help on 13 32 20 or make a complaint online.

Learn about our complaint handling process or view our complaints register.

Overseas

  1. Contact the business in the first instance and explain the problem. If the matter is complicated and not urgent, you could write an email or letter. We have tips and sample letters to help you.
  2. If you’re unable to resolve the matter with the business, contact the consumer protection body in the country where the trader is located and ask for help.
  3. If the matter is still unresolved, you can make a complaint through www.econsumer.gov. Econsumer.gov is an initiative of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network and is a partnership of more than 35 consumer protection agencies around the world.

Be a savvy consumer

Here are some tips to help your stay go smoothly:

  • Shop around for the best price, read reviews and talk to other travellers. Your research could uncover a great deal or help you avoid a bad one.
  • Check the business you are dealing with is licensed.
  • When making a booking, take note of the confirmation number (if there is one), as well as the dates, check-in times and names relevant to your booking.
  • Make sure you understand any booking terms and conditions, especially the refund and cancellation policies. Ask about anything that you are unsure of. A short conversation may prevent unpleasant ‘surprises’ later on.
  • Accommodation providers advertise the services and facilities they provide. If you are interested in a particular service or facility, ask about its availability, the times and if there are additional charges. If you request something, ask for written confirmation that it will be provided.
  • Ask about any special conditions or 'house-rules' the property has (for example, noise, pets and shower times). These may be based on Council restrictions.
  • If you stay in a backpacker establishment, make sure you get something in writing to confirm your booking and the length of your stay. Some backpacker establishments over-book to make sure they are always full. Have your confirmation in writing.
  • If you are asked to provide a security deposit, make sure you ask for a receipt, as well as written information on where it will be held, who it will be paid to and how to claim it back.
  • When you arrive, let staff know if an amenity is missing or broken, and take note of any existing damage to the property or its equipment, fixtures or fittings so you aren’t charged for damages when you check-out.
  • If you are staying at a timeshare property, you are still entitled to the same consumer rights as any other accommodation type. Members of the Australian Timeshare and Holiday Ownership Council (ATHOC) must also follow a code of practice and a code of ethics.

Further information

Contact us

Can’t find the information you’re looking for? Call us on 13 32 20 or submit an online enquiry.

Who enforces Australian Consumer Law?

The following agencies enforce provisions relating to consumer goods and services:

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is responsible for financial products and services.

 
Next Travel agents, operators and airlines