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.