I made a 30-day reservation on Airbnb for my daughter who moved closer to home. The reservation was about two weeks before the arrival date. Well, long story short, she was not able to stay at the place, so I cancelled seven days before arrival. I only got back approximately $60 out of the $495. Why?
Because it was the host’s cancellation policy, which was not clearly mentioned before making the reservation. It was hidden apparently at the end (after making the reservation) and not very obvious. The $60 was for cleaning and admin fees. I contacted the host and Airbnb intervened too but the host declined to refund the money.
Apparently, there is a loophole in this policy, which Airbnb has not addressed. If you do not cancel a month before a long-term stay like a 30-day or longer stay, then you forfeit the money paid. But this does not account for reservations made a week or two before the arrival date. In theory, this policy should be null and void.
Talking to an attorney, most courts would not enforce this policy. From the advice of an attorney, the best route is pursuing it via the credit card company. There was no service received, it was cancelled timely, and the ad was seemingly misleading (since it was not clear it was a shared room from the site I initially went on, which was not an Airbnb site but directed me to Airbnb). I do not expect any help from this since it seems most people have lost this same cancellation issue too.
My advice: do not book long-term stays at all. Make sure they are one-week stays. Two weeks is cutting it close and apparently it appears to default to the long-term stay policy.
Note: if this has happened to you per a host’s cancellation policy, an attorney said if there are enough of people impacted by this, we could sue Airbnb and the individual hosts together. Airbnb’s practice is arguably similar to the fine print tactics but they hide the policies after booking. It is considered unfair and deceptive business practices under Florida state laws and federal consumer protection laws, with not making it clear of these policies.
Sites like Priceline and other sites make it very clear that the reservation is either nonrefundable or refundable. Why doesn’t Airbnb do the same?