AIRBNB HOST DOUBLES PRICE AFTER BOOKING – NO PENALTY!

My husband and I are going to be in Brazil for Christmas and New Years 2016. We found a great apartment minutes from the beach for $200/night, so I booked 2 nights for New Years eve and the day after. It took a while to get through the booking process as I had to take a photograph of both sides of my driver’s license to prove my identity, but I finally made it through the process. The reservation was accepted and my credit card was charged.

5 days later, the host sent me the following email: “Hi Chris, thank you for your reservation and your preference. I am so sorry about the price i haven’t seen the price, it is wrong. In the new years eve it will be $250 daily for 15 nights minimum or i can make for you $400 daily for this 2 nights that you want . what do you think?” So the host claims that she made a mistake in pricing, tries to double the price, or asks me to extend my day from 2 days to 15 days for a price per day 25% higher. Right, that sounds like a good deal. AirBnB’s online documentation for what to do if the host asks for more money (https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/251/what-if-a-host-asks-for-more-money) says: “If a host asks you for more money than what you paid on the site and the extra charge wasn’t stated in the listing or in the message thread, contact us and we’ll contact your host directly.” So I responded politely to the host’s email: “Hi Paula, I received your message. According to AirBnB’s documentation, https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/251/what-if-a-host-asks-for-more-money, in this circumstance they recommend that I contact them directly about such a request. I have just sent AirBnB customer service an email describing your request. I expect you will be hearing from them shortly.”

I expected that AirBnB would require the host to honor the contract made for this location. I was shocked when AirBnB replied: “Hi Chris This is Luka from Airbnb again. I spoke to your host and she decided to cancel your reservation. I am really sorry about that. You can either request your full refund or having the amount you paid transferred to another host. Please check the email you received from us with the subject line: “Reservation Canceled at Luxury 2 bd steps…” I hope you will find a nice listing for the dates you need. Please contact us if you need any help. Warmest regards, Luka” Ok, the host cancelled, and I got an apology and “warmest regards”. How politely disappointing. If I rebooked at a different location, they would give me a small credit. Or I could get a full refund. Better than zero, but what happened to the greedy host that cancelled?

According to AirBnB’s documentation (https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/990/how-do-host-cancellation-penalties-work), if a host cancels without extenuating circumstances, they suffer penalties. In particular: “Your calendar will stay blocked and you won’t be able to accept another reservation for the same dates of the canceled reservation” Furthermore, “An automated review will be posted to your listing’s profile indicating that you canceled one of your reservations. These reviews can’t be removed, but you can always write a public response to clarify why you needed to cancel.” As to “extenuating circumstances”, when you click on the link, it doesn’t offer any more information. In fact, the link takes you back to the “how-do-host-cancellation-penalties-work”. Reading more of the fine print on the page, AirBnB gives hosts that allow for instant booking three (3) get-out-of-penalty chances “if they have concerns about a guest’s behavior.” This listing allowed instant booking. However it goes on to say “Calendar inaccuracy, confusion about pricing or availability, and extenuating circumstances are not covered by this policy”. If the host was confused about pricing, as her email clearly indicates, then the host should not be immune to the cancellation penalty.

However, I went on the AirBnB website for that listing and saw that the property (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/9772188) was available for the dates that I had booked, been accepted and been summarily cancelled 5 days later, not for $400/night, but for $250/night. The minimum stay is still 2 days, not 15 days. Furthermore, there was no review stating that a reservation had been cancelled. Clearly the host was trying to scam me by doubling the price, or requiring me to stay for more than 2 weeks. And yet apparently there’s no penalty to the host. But the worst is that AirBnB demonstrably does not live up to their published terms of service.

What are the consequences to AirBnB for a breach of their stated terms of service?

Posted in Airbnb Guest Stories and tagged , , , , , , , , .

7 Comments

  1. I just went to Vegas and was charged resort fees of $35.00 and $45.00, $15.00 for coffee service, $35.00 for a refrigerator, $24.00 a day for parking. So Airbnb is still a bargain

  2. Same thing happened to me today. Booked a Soacious One Bedroom Townhouse in Virginia Beach, VA in June, confirmed with host and had multiple correspondence. She messaged me today saying the price was wrong and it would be an extra $560 for the week. I declined the change and asked her to cancel and she tried to tell me I had to request the cancellation. When I pointed out that per her strict cancellation policy I would only receive 50% of my fees back she lied and told me I would receive it all. The Airbnb site says that the host can not guarantee the refund as they will uphold the hosts cancellation policy. I then used the link to request the host cancels and she thankfully did. But there is no review on the listing. The same place is available for the same dates, her calendar was not blocked. And since it happened so far in advance I can not leave a review. And she gets to go on to try to scam someone else. It is not fair that they do not penalize scamming hosts the way their policy states. This was my first and last experience with Airbnb.

  3. Hi, I had the exact same thing happen to me today. I booked an appartment in Rome for 60 euro for 3 nights and now the host says its 330 euro for 3 nights. I had no idea and just liked the place, but I would like Airbnb to absorb the cost. So there is no way that Airbnb/this host pay for their mistake? I know the host could end up cancelling if I don’t, but I think it is really unfair.
    Also they are like this -platform- and I don’t know if the local rules apply to them.

  4. Same thing happened to me – booked a place in Lewisburg PA (hosted by Van – watch out for him!) and then a few months later received a request to approve an increase of $134 (“Increased maintenance costs, I hope you understand” he said – jerk). I declined the increase and invited him to cancel the “contract” (at least I *thought* it was a contract – silly me), which he then did several days later. Now I’m leery about *any* ABNB purchase I make. In this case, I hadn’t already purchased non-refundable airfare, but what if I had? I’d be marjorly screwed. I’m about to abandon ABND entirely. Very poor business practice.

  5. The technology is there, i am a host and there is an option to make different price for certain period of the year. If a host is not friendly with Airbnb system then it is their problem, not of the guest. Mostly likely this kind of hosts are crooks and trying to play the system. Shame on them! I made a mistake once with the price and hosted the guest all the same accepting my own mistake. Airbnb should be much more strict about such behaviour. Interesting that my husband had the same experience from a host from Holland twice. I agree with Leita, there should be much more serious consequences for the dishonest hosts.

  6. Last weekend we made a booking for late Dec 2017 with a host for one of her apartments in Dubai. Money has been taken from our credit card and now we have had an email from her stating that the price for the dates which were advertised on the Airbnb and were selected by us are not applicable for those dates and we have to pay triple the price advertised and charged. This is mis-selling by Airbnb. If Airbnb want to operate in UK they will have to comply with the UK laws and cannot treat the UK consumer as they have.
    Airbnb may have to invest in technology to allow their hosts showing different prices for different times of the year.
    We are still investigating what we can do and what rights we have.

  7. We just had a similar experience with our NYE booking in Amsterdam. We booked several months ago, and I just received a change request from the host for 50% more $. Of course I declined because we paid the amount we originally agreed upon. The host then canceled the reservation stating that the reason was because he can only accommodate 4 people. We are 5, but I clearly stated that in our early correspondence and he said he was ok with that as long as the bed situation works for us. I said yes (the 5th person is a 2 year old). We are now working with Airbnb to try and find a comparable booking in close proximity to the original booking a month before our NYE trip. And it sounds like they do not plan to penalize the host. We feel like the host should be banned from Airbnb for extortion and fraud.

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