Airbnb Outrageous Cancellation Fee

I recently had a nasty surprise that others using Airbnb should definitely know about. Last week I booked an apartment in San Francisco which was advertised at 109euros a night, which ended up being 649euros for 4 nights after all the fees (Airbnb service charge, local taxes and cleaning fee). This total amount turns out to be just over the cost of booking a hotel, but we thought it would be worth it. After one week (more than a month before the date of arrival) I was offered a place to stay with a friend. So I cancelled. First I got a mail saying I would be refunded 572euros (because unlike hotels, Airbnb keeps their service fee even if you cancel), and then I was told that the host charges a $100 fee for cancellations! This of course appeared nowhere in the booking confirmation or the description of the place! Now that Airbnb is becoming more popular, they are being bolder about fleecing their customers and allowing their hosts to do the same. Beware of ‘The Suuny Upstairs Apt’ in San Francisco!

Posted in Airbnb Guest Stories and tagged , , , .


  1. Airbnb is illegally charging VAT to Canadian owners and guests. Their computer software is set up so wrong. They have no right to charge VAT (20%) on the service fees when the property is NOT IN THE UK OR EU. This is very sneaky and sly. Look at your service fees and make sure they are not charging VAT on properties that are not in the EU & UK. My property is in Canada and so is the bank account.. so why they think they can charge VAT is beyond me, and it is illegal if they have no VAT account to put it to.. and if it’s taken on a booking for Alberta Canada it should have at the minimum GST (only 5%) on the service fee, big difference!

  2. I think the service fees are way beyond abusive. They have until now always charged me more and more. I just made a booking in Denmark where the service fees added up to 15% of the price, plus ckeankng fee and the stay cost. In Switzerland I payes 25% in seevice fees not long ago. Really people?
    Host and guests are getting screwed on this. Many times a B&B ends up being more expensive than a hotel! Nonsense!
    I always ask, and if the host agrres I cut the middle man and pay the host in cash. I prefer to pay the host that extra 15 – 25% than giving it to a company that is reaping people off.

  3. Why do you think you can book and cancel with any cancellation charges ? most places that are rented out are by small owners and they rely on that income , if you cancel and it is not rebooked the losses are all on one side . In this case there was no emergency reasons , no other reason than you simply changed your mind to get free accommodation elsewhere leaving the Accommodation with no guest . I have a log house just 1 one unit with 2 bedrooms on in three years I have had over 17,000 euros of cancellations , 30% . Most refuse to pay deposit that we apply, non refundable of 20% . Reason , we dont want to do it but it is to stop the time wasters that selfishly book and block out the dates for themselves and then try to find cheaper just to leave you with nothing when they succeed and cancel often within a week , day or simply dont turn up ? Be fair you cannot book with a tour operator without this system so why should it be any different for the small often 1 man band . Welcome to the “fair “world ? Usual for 2015/16 isnt it !!!!

  4. I’ve used Airbnb about 30 times in recent years. All in Europe. I had one stay that was bad… pictures didn’t come close to matching reality.
    The service and admin fees are becoming onerous. One place is Malta listed a private room for $33/night with $95 service fees (i realize this could include local VAT etc.) But its becoming abusive.
    I’m thinking of switching back to
    They also have and App plus support renter reviews.

  5. I booked a condo in florida but found out that one of my friends parents had a place we could use. I was charged a 60 dollar service fee when I cancelled 3 months in advance. I understand if it had been within a week of the booking but I cancelled 3 months in advance. I don’t find it fair to have to pay such a large amount of money when I cancelled months ahead of my booking. There is plenty of time for others to book in that time. It’s just not fair. It will certainly make me think before I book again.

  6. Since you can’t get refunded then just don’t bother cancelling until 1 day before the due date. There is no advantage for you to cancel before the due date.

    • That is exactly the sort of behaviour that we as hosts are trying to avoid . Why do you talk about advantage from the gusts side but nothing about the hosts ? If you were to have your accommodation cancelled by the hosts as they found someone who would pay more , you would be horrified ? I rent out on , if I cancel a guest for whatever reason , I have to suggest suitable accommodation as an alternative and if it is more expensive will consider charging me the difference to ensure the guest is not out of pocket , so hosts dont pay games , do not cancel unless an emergency . How often have I had cancellations a week before or waited till midnight for the guests to appear and they dont answer e-mail , sms , phone and dont show up . One 2 bed log house 3 years 17,000 euros of cancellations 30% …and its not the quality of accommodation over 3 yrs we have average 9.575 / 10 on 120+ reviews…..and you think it not only is wrong to pay a cancellation fee but want to suggest that you screw us around further by throw your teddies out of the pram as you cannot get everything and all you want ……..where I come from its called fair and you would be sellfish ? Small buisinesses cannot survive with people like you ?

  7. 1) the _non_refundable clause is in fine print

    2) the fee is not exactly cheap (10% for me at that time)

    3) cancelled well ahead of time (3 – 4 weeks) is still non-refundable.

  8. Does Air BnB give a waiver of the service fees for first cancellation within 6 months of joining up? – I thought I read this when joining, but now can no longer find this statement

  9. I just cancelled my first booking through airbnb. The booking is for just I’ve 5minths away but of course I lose the £100 service fee. Realise its in the terms I just didn’t really consider I’d need to cancel and am so used to other websites where is cancelling a decent length of time before then there are no costs. Within 5 months someone else will have booked this accommodation as at an exceptionally busy point. Effectively this just gives airbnb double the money so you’d think they could reduce it when cancelling this far out. Anyway know it was there so will just be the first and last time I use the service. Greedy f***s.

  10. I wanted to book but I did not like fees were not visable till AFTER purchase. Kinda not something I find I want to do. Fee should be visable before giving my credit card to pay.

  11. > You people are complaining, yet if you did the same actions you did with a hotel, you’d be charged the same. You can;t just go changing your mind and thinking there are no repercussions. Get real.

    No, you wouldn’t.

  12. i booked a room thru Airbnb 2 weeks in advance, a week later, the host told me that no room available, and asked by host to cancel, but i still can’t get the service fees back.

    • I this case you should not have cancelled but , insisted the host cancelled this . the problem is if you cancelled it , on their system it will show you cancelled and therefore you should pay . If this was done by the host in order to leave you “high and dry “contact airbnb and explain but unless you can prove with e-mails your case them it is you infact that cancelled. It is unfair by the hosts as it looks like he knew what he was doing , sorry you have had this experience as we as hosts are not all the same and dont wish to be. Never be coaxed into cancelling for someone elses fault. Good Luck in the future .

  13. You people are complaining, yet if you did the same actions you did with a hotel, you’d be charged the same. You can;t just go changing your mind and thinking there are no repercussions. Get real.

    • Uhhh…no. Some hotels might have a 24 hour before check-in deadline but no hotel would charge you a service fee for cancelling a week out. I’ve cancelled bookings in hostels the day I was supposed to check in and the fee is nominal. A week out is plenty of time.

    • No Jane. With a hotel the cancellation fees are much clearer. If they say “Full refund” you get every penny back, period. When canceling a week before it’s pretty common to get a full refund. Hotels would call what airbnb do a “Partial Refund”. It’s not the fact that they retain the money that’s a problem. It’s the fact they hide it in the small print while still claiming its a full refund.

  14. So I just got similarly BURNED by AIRB&B !!!

    I booked what looked like a charming place in Copenhagen, then saw BAD reviews and clicked CANCELwithin 5 minutes of booking… 5 minutes… for which I am charged $150 !!!
    I called AirB&B immediately but they basically said GOTCHA!!! I think similar booking services such as TripAdvisor etc give 24 hour cancellation. AIRBNB’s explanation that the service fees are to cover their costs is absurd… their digital processing costs nothing. Can’t we advertise LOOK BEFORE YOU BOOK !!! AirBnB’s policy is a TRAP.

    • Not a trap , just most people are too lazy to read the booking details and rules , easy come easy go ? It was all there for you to read , just you did not ? Just so you dont think I am just a nut , I have a small place on 3 yrs review score of 9.575 / 10 over 3yrs and I get 30% cancellations 17,000 euro of “messers “which is so unfair but what can I do as a host …….Just live with it and often lose money as the dates are not rebooked . But hey surprise to you … thought we dont get screwed , we do by guests not reading or playing fair ?

    • Why , what would you do if you turned up and the hosts said “sorry accommodation ” you would be livid , so when you cancelled a week in advance if it wasnt rebooked show they forfiet all the booking costs …….what did they do wrong ……..nothing ? Be fair , problem is it is not a world that is used by the general public these days as all make it so easy . the housing market made it easy and then 2009 it went crazy and people had their homes lost ……but all wnats everything and commits to nothing ……..welcome to the REAL world my friend , as hosts we live in it , you dont ?

  15. Yes, I just got burned on the cancellation fee too. I did not read the fine print, but I just had no idea that such a forward thinking company would fuckya so hard. AirBnB is dead to me.

  16. No, Avery, important facts like this should not be written in small letters in the “fine print” in the hope that most people won’t want to have strain their eyes to read all of your long-winded conditions. They would assume the terms to be reasonable and fair because normally, when you deal with a reputable company, that is the case. If there is a 100$ non-refundable fee then this should be written in big letters next to the price because it is an important part of the deal. Hiding these details and not making sure that everything is clear before taking payment is dishonest.

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