Airbnb Profiting from Pandemic Cancellations

Here is the summary of my issue with Airbnb. I put down a $2,777.40 deposit in December 2019 for a rental house in Eugene, Oregon. The rental was for June 21-29 so four of us had a place to stay to watch the U.S. Olympic Trials for track and field.

In March, with COVID-19 spreading, everything started getting cancelled. The Olympics in Japan were cancelled and shortly after so were the U.S. Olympic Trials. Once the trials were called off, I cancelled my reservation on March 17, 2020.

Normally, I would have lost my deposit because it was well past the two weeks since I made the reservation – the policy for this rental place. Airbnb posted a COVID policy: if you made a reservation before March 14 and your reservation was for a stay before the end of May 2020, then you would get a full refund.

I argued that my reservation for June was cancelled directly because of COVID and the arbitrary end of the period for eligibility in May made no sense. Airbnb still refused my claim. It’s not like the Olympics being cancelled was some secret.

On July 1, Airbnb changed their policy to extend eligibility for refunds for stays through August 2020, as long as the reservation was made before March 14, 2020. I thought now I could get that refund. But no – Airbnb claims that my eligibility for a refund depended on the policy that was posted when I cancelled my reservation. Nowhere on their site is such a policy posted, only the current policy that extends refunds for stays through August.

The latest twist is that the house owner was told by Airbnb that they were refunding $800 to her – she said she would forward that to me. Thus, Airbnb is keeping the remaining $1,977.40 – for what? A great way to make money off the pandemic. Oh, and they did refund me a whopping $20.40. Thanks Airbnb.

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