Beware Airbnb Service Fees: Refunds are Impossible


This isn’t terrible, but I feel like a lot of people are probably getting ripped off right now without realizing it. I booked a place that was covered under the 100% refundable policy. This policy clearly states service fees are refundable up to 24 hours before your trip, and the Airbnb refund policy in general says service fees are refundable for guests up to three times a year. See the attached pictures, screenshots from the Airbnb website. When I cancelled and requested a refund, it was not automatically given. After drilling down through multiple levels of their help center clearly intended to prevent you from talking to anyone, I finally go to chat with someone. He told me it was against Airbnb’s policy to refund service fees, but he would do me a ‘favor’ this once because I had booked another place. I thanked him for the refund, but afterwards I pointed out that it said in two places that the fee was refundable. He said, “That’s right, our service fees are not refundable” along with some other wholesome crap about Airbnb being a community. At that point, I moved from classifying customer service representatives as humans to examples of a failed Turing test, and I just hope their developers look at this and at the very least clarify their policy.

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


  1. Airbnb are not for the customer. My holiday to Europe has been cancelled. I am getting refunds from airlines, hotels, train companies, car hire companies – but Irbnb are holding on desperately to their service fee for cancelled bookings that can’t go ahead due to global pandemic.

    I am extremely disappointed by their attitude and selfishness – stuff the customer!! I intend to write to local regional and national media to expose their practices.

  2. I am dealing with this right now. They want to retain a service fee of nearly $500 for a booking that clearly states is fully refundable (including service fee) if cancelled prior to 07/02 because I have cancelled 3 times in the prior 12 months. Note that 2 of the 3 times were for separate stays on a trip to Italy that I was supposed to be on right now. OBVIOUSLY, I did not cancel these by choice. The other was because I booked a stay for my adult son through my account then realized that it should have been booked through HIS account. On the host’s suggestion, I cancelled my booking and immediately re-booked the same stay through his account.
    The upcoming trip must be cancelled as 10 or the 12 guests are over 60 and several of them are immuno-compromised and would have to fly which they are not comfortable doing at this time.
    I have had the same response as most of you – “polite” pointing out that the service fee is only refunded 3 times per year out of the goodness of their hearts. I’m not going to back down on this.

    • good for you Melinda Don’t back down. I’m not either although it will be a long tough fight. In my case the fee amounts to $303 , The frustating thing is every time I point out that their policy clearly states that I’m entitled to a refund their reply says no and gives me some reason(s) which are patently false. When I compare the phraseology in different replies from allegedly different people they are so similiar that they are obviously either written by the same person or they use some kind of writing software that has pre concieved responses built in.

  3. I agree it is next to impossible to get a refund of service fees. dealing with customer “support” is frustrating at best. You will not ever talk to a person, and the text replies state things relating to their policies that are flat out false. Thinking of contacting Michale Finney of 7 on your side ( a San Francisco bay area news segment) which often gets results when other methods don’t.

  4. We have had the same experience. May 2020 . Air bnb system is totally unresponsive to the customer . Their goal is to frustrate you until you give up . You cannot talk to a human …just receive messages stating the service fee is non refundable . Write them off and tell everyone you know …buyer beware

  5. “The Airbnb service fee is refundable up to 3 times per year if the guest cancels at least 14 days before check-in. If booked less than 14 days before check-in, the service fee is only refundable up to 48 hours after booking AND at least 5 days before check-in. It isn’t refundable if the guest cancels a reservation that overlaps with any part of an existing reservation.”

    the above is the policy that states clearly it is refundable. But AirBnB does everything to prevent from paying. We booked 7 month early, we canceled 1 month early. Now they claime we should have canceled within 48 hours. But the above states clearly that the 48 hours do only apply to bookings within 14 dys of the stay. But AirBnB keeps ignoring this, they tell us the first part of the sentence does not matter. I wonder where they find the customer service people willing to be stupid or lie. I had 5 reps so far, in German and English and they all claim the same

  6. I booked an Airbnb on August 17th @ 2pm and cancelled in on August 17th @ 5pm for a reservation for that night and they took the whole amount of $366 because I didn’t give 48 hours cancellation notice?!! How can they let people book on the same date they are staying if they have to cancel 48 hours ahead of time, how is this even legal ??

  7. I made a reservation with wrong dates by mistake. (in Sept instead of Aug.)

    When I cancelled it, I lost the service fees.

    This is totally unfair. This type of mistake should be totally refundable.
    Anyone can make mistakes and it should be a lost of money everytime.

    What does it cost them? Everything is automated anyway….

  8. You know where they don’t keep your money? Hotels.
    I don’t see any valid reason why they need to keep that money. AirBnb is an autonomous service.there was no actual labor that took place. this is Corporate greed in the highest. If they knew it was wrong, which they do they will give you your money back when asked, like they do. They are praying on the individuals that won’t take a stand and demand there money back.

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