Airbnb Can’t Understand How Cancellation Policies Hurt

The situation: I booked an expensive condo in Montreal for the Osheaga Music Festival. I had a situation that made me not be able to make it for those dates in early August. I was confused by the language on Airbnb and thought I had up until 14 days from the check-in date to cancel. I let the property management company know more than 60 days in advance. They refused and said the only option was to pay them $1100 to cancel.

The property management company (not the real host) was really hard to deal with. They were uncompromising and only gave me options that would allow them to rebook the listing and still get my $2200. I even said I would be willing to pay the cancellation fee of $260.
They were argumentative and kept giving me false and confusing information. They claimed they had to pay more to Airbnb to have a strict cancellation policy. That turned out to be a lie. I felt it was really unfair given that this was the most popular weekend in Montreal for the entire year and I gave them 60 days notice of my need to cancel.
They claim to have a deep empathy for guests in their mission statement. This doesn’t seem to be the case. They are currently hounding me to cancel or lose my money.
On a more human note, I am getting married a week from now and this situation has made things really stressful. Before you book with any of these companies I strongly encourage you to remember how much time and money you will lose if something goes wrong.
I live in San Francisco and know a couple people who work in data for Airbnb. They said that having a more apparent cancellation policy would lower conversion and revenue.
The company claims to bring people in different communities together and make people feel welcome. I toured their facility a while back; they have designed a conference room modeled around the first Airbnb (the founder’s home). The HQ is like a palace with things like on-tap beer and wine and dedicated sleep rooms.
Let’s just say they don’t seem like they are hurting for money. Unfortunately it has devolved into a money/IPO-hungry company that doesn’t really care about guests. The issue is compounded by all these third party property management companies that are more driven by the rips they make off the actual owners of the property (the true hosts).
Airbnb is probably going to try to go public this year. If you have been screwed by them I encourage you to voice your opinion. Here is a link to a recent article regarding an Airbnb guest that was confused by the deceptive language on the Airbnb website.
Posted in Airbnb Guest Stories and tagged , , , , , .


  1. I’m so sorry you had to go through this. I have had a similar experience and what I realized was I don’t think I will be using Airbnb much anymore especially if its for multiple nights. Basically what I realized is be willing to give up all your money you spend for this as their customer service is very hard to get a hold of and difficult to get a refund. I ended up paying four times what the hotel charged per night by booking through Airbnb and realized I should of done my research. The place was horrid and I didn’t even stay in the room. Still had to pay tho.

  2. I agree … it is very misleading and will only cause guests to leave the platform. I am actually happy about guests leaving the airhead platform at this point …. even as a host! It give me hope to get more VRBO action.

    Use VRBO next time … or even better contact a host directly using the 48hr option to cancel(you get 3 100% refunds a year). You just book … get the phone number and then cut airheadbnb out of the loop using your 48hr option!

  3. I agree … it is very misleading and will only cause guests to leave the platform. I am actually happy about guests leaving the airhead platform at this point …. even as a host! It give me hope to get more VRBO action.

  4. Did you sign a separate rental agreement with the property management company?

    If not, the cancellation policy is governed by the cancellation policy posted on the unit description & part of your Airbnb itinerary when you booked. Also Airbnb does the payout. The host/agency can’t make you pay anything because they don’t have your payment information.

    The Airbnb cancellation policies are fairly clear:

    For all: the guest can cancel 48 hours after booking & receive full refund including Airbnb service fees if the reservation is more than 24 days in the future; after 48 hours no refunds on Airbnb booking fees

    strict-in general no refunds

    Moderate-cancel 5 days in advance full rental refund

    Flexible -cancel 1 day in advance full rental refund

    The host or agency doesn’t receive ANY money from Airbnb until the guest has been happily in the rental for 24 hours.

    It sounds like you made the mistake of NOT cancelling a reservation made through Airbnb with Airbnb.

    Does your situation qualify as an extenuating circumstance (illness, death in family, natural disaster?) which would allow you to cancel & receive a refund from Airbnb?

    Did you contact Airbnb Customer service for assistance? It sounds like you didn’t. Again this sounds like you are trying to book then cancel off the platform

    It is true that hosts with a strict cancellation policy pay higher service fees. It isn’t a huge difference but it is more.

    I’m not sure why you felt the need to comment on Airbnb’s offices. What does that have to do with you booking through Airbnb then moving off platform for a cancellation?

    This sounds like you didn’t read the cancellation policy before booking, didn’t cancel the reservation through Airbnb, and you are blaming Airbnb because you chose to go off the platform for the cancellation. The second you go off the platform especially if you sign a separate rental agreement Airbnb is extremely limited on how they can help you

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