Using sharing economy platforms
The sharing economy connects you to individual traders who have products or services to sell, hire or lease via an online platform or mobile app.
Uber, Airbnb and Airtasker are examples of the many organisations operating sharing economy platforms.
Platform operators generally perform administrative tasks, such as facilitating payment and managing the operation of the website or app.
The sharing economy can benefit you by providing a greater choice and sometimes lower prices. It also offers individual traders new ways to generate income.
Australian Consumer Law
If you buy or hire goods and services through an online marketplace or sharing economy platform, you are protected by Australian Consumer Law if things go wrong, in the same way you would be if you were to buy in a store.
Read more about your consumer guarantees.
Tips for using sharing economy platforms
Each party’s role
Know who you’re dealing with when you use an online platform. In most cases you will deal with the platform and the seller, driver or host.
Understand the role of each party and who you need to contact if things go wrong.
Terms and conditions
Read the platform’s terms and conditions and understand their complaint management process, if they have one.
Don’t forget, you have consumer rights and might be able to cancel the contract and get a refund if things go wrong.
Understand how pricing works before you sign up.
Some platforms charge more during times of peak usage (e.g. surge pricing or seasonal prices), and there may be penalties for cancelling a service or hidden fees (e.g. cleaning fees or local taxes).
Reviews or ratings
Check how the review or rating system works.
Sharing economy platforms often display consumer reviews and ratings of their experience with a trader.
However, are the reviews genuine? Are they moderated? Are they listed in the order they are received? How are ratings calculated?
If you have a problem with a product or service you purchased from an online platform, follow these steps to help resolve the issue:
- speak to the seller or service provider
- contact the platform through their internal dispute resolution process, if they have one
- write a factual customer review and rate the trader on the platform.
If you can’t resolve the matter with the platform and/or trader, lodge a complaint with us.
Learn more about your consumer rights and responsibilities.
Find out more about sharing economy platforms for individual traders .
Sharing economy videos
Watch these videos for more tips on how to share fair in the sharing economy and to learn more about Australian Consumer Law.