Airbnb Long-Term Cancellation Policy: Buyer Beware

My husband and I booked a two-bedroom, two-bath condo for our 25th wedding anniversary. However, my knee gave out and I was unexpectedly forced to have total knee replacement surgery. We booked the condo through Airbnb and the owner had a 30-day cancellation policy. That was fine. We canceled three months and one week in advance because my surgeon did not want me to travel on a 5.5-hour flight over the ocean with no chance of stopping after undergoing the surgery, due to concerns about edema and blood clots. We were penalized 50% of our total amount because the hosts “have a super strict policy.”

First of all, we did not know about such a policy until after we booked; I was contacted by Airbnb when we attempted to cancel. The only policy we were given at the time of booking was the owner’s policy of a 30-day cancellation. Sure enough, on the Airbnb website, after much searching, I found the 50% penalty policy. Interestingly, it says in order to be afforded this tremendous opportunity, one must be “invited.” We weren’t invited; we never even knew about it. However, Airbnb says it is a policy for this particular listing. The owner of the condo says it is an Airbnb policy.

Whichever organization or company made the policy, Airbnb indicates that they have an appeal process, which we followed; my doctor wrote a letter explaining that I could not fly such a long distance until the very end of the year due to the possibility of complications (which I experienced with my first knee replacement). I even sent them my MRI results and an explanation of the surgery. They denied our appeal, again saying they “have a super strict policy.” To cancel over three months in advance and be penalized well over $1,300 is beyond absurd. So, when I can fly at the end of the year, we will never stay at this particular listing again (although we have stayed there many times), and we will never use Airbnb again (it was our first experience with this company). What a scam.

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