Airbnb Host Cancellation Leaves Guests with Few Options

I am so frustrated with this platform I am ready to be tied up and it seems a lot of other guests (and hosts) are as well. I was a big fan of Airbnb until a recent host cancellation soured it all.

I had used Airbnb in several countries in Europe and around the U.S and never had a major problem. I had always studied the properties, read all  the reviews, asked hosts pertinent questions (to gauge their competence) and finally figured out where they were actually located (the Airbnb map location is generally not accurate) so I could see them on Google Street view.

As I say, most of my experiences were good. Some exceeded expectations, a few did not meet standards, and some you have to accept based on their value-based location. However, I had never experienced a host cancelling on me. I had not even considered what the consequences would be and it was definitely not good for me on the particular trip I was taking.

I had to totally change my travel plans. Okay, s— happens as they say, but this is where this particular mode of vacation rental booking falls flat on its face. It is, after all, just a website, a platform where hosts can rent their properties on a global scale and likewise guests have unlimited possibilities of places to rent. However, there is an issue when there is literally no customer service.

For my cancellation, I was given a two-word explanation why the host had cancelled at the last minute along with several computer generated emails telling me what I could do. I was told I would receive a full refund (which I have not received yet but have no reason to believe they will renege on that) and also a measly $80 gift certificate if I re-booked on Airbnb.

The problem is I was screwed. There were no other properties available at such short notice. Airbnb customer service is practically nonexistent. All they care about is taking your money, literally months in advance in most cases. I had to completely change my travel plans and ended up booking somewhere else through VRBO.

In the future, I am not sure I will ever use this platform again and even if I do I am going to ask every host under what circumstances they would cancel my reservation. These hosts need to have some kind of backup plan in the event something happens to them or something changes, not just simply cancel. It may seem easy for them as there are little or no consequences, but for the guest this can cause huge issues.

Airbnb doesn’t give a hoot and they damn well should. While this kind of vacation renting may seem like a great idea (I certainly thought so) it does have its limitations. Hosts have had all sorts of problems with bad guests and vice versa and Airbnb apparently could not give a damn. They have your money. The only way they will get the message is if folks stop using them and they start losing money. It will be a bunch of computer geeks shutting down a platform and starting something else the next day.

Such is internet business. It’s great until something goes wrong. The smart ones sort it out for their customers. Airbnb does not.

From Free to Strict Cancellation Policy Before Stay

I live in London and I needed to book a house for my family in the same borough. My family was supposed to come here for my wedding. I found one house for them on Airbnb last October. I booked it accordingly with the cancellation policy, which reported a total refund if you cancel by 15 days before the check in date. This was perfect for me as I wouldn’t have booked a house with a strict cancellation policy in October for May given these strange times, the COVID issues related to many aspects of life and travels, as well as the age of my parents.

I even put this deadline in my agenda to remember it and not risk losing my deposit. Moreover, I remember a strange fact: I wrote to the host because when I was trying to pay to book it, the system was stuck. After a few minutes, it worked normally again. Unfortunately, my family cannot come in May as the situation with COVID is still risky and they are older people. In any case, I did not need to explain the reason to cancel the house as I was supposed to be on time to get back the whole deposit.

On March 2 when I was cancelling my reservation, I noticed a different cancellation policy in the house page on Airbnb. This ‘new’ policy said that you can have the whole deposit back only if you cancel 48 hours after the reservation. Or you could have 50% back by May 3.

I immediately wrote to both the host and the Airbnb Help Center. The host was upset, writing me back that she didn’t have my money that I had to ask Airbnb for it. The Airbnb Help Center asked for my money back from the host but she declined it. So, again, no money back for me.

Airbnb said that the booking confirmation email in my inbox reflected the correct policy. I noticed that it showed the ‘changed’ policy, not the one that caused me to book the house. It’s my fault for not having checked it properly when I received it but I was sure that it was alright. If I saw it, I would have cancelled immediately.

I also tried to get back at least 50% of my deposit, asking for it from the host. She declined, saying “I understand your frustration but it’s policy.”

Given the circumstances, this was gratuitously unfair. For this reason, I have been asking Airbnb to send me some evidence that shows what happened while I was booking, if it is possible that the host changed this policy while I was booking. My belief is based on what happened when I wanted to pay to book the house. The system was stuck for a few minutes. Is there anyone here that had this kind of experience?

Even a Plus and Superhost Place Still Went Wrong

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We booked a lovely Airbnb Plus with a Superhost for New Year’s. We booked early since this place is very popular. We were so happy to be able to snatch it in time this year.

After we booked, it was confirmed. Later, the owner messaged to inform us about the possibility of future cancellation because the local community was banning Airbnb. Why was this not mentioned in the description?

The owner should also have not put this up for grabs why ahead of time if there are these known risks. We were not made aware of this risk in the description. Now that we are trying to cancel, we will lose some money due to the service fee.

This is neither reasonable nor fair since the owner did not inform customers of this and still put the listing up. We would have sought other accommodations if we had complete information that allowed us to make a sound booking.

After knowing this new information, that our place may be potentially cancelled and we would get our money back, who would go through such risks? I tried to cancel and we couldn’t get everything back because of the service fee. I reach out to Airbnb several times and they agreed with me that the owner should cancel and I would get the fee back as well.

I reached back to the owner who had given no apologies whatsoever until this point. They refused to cancel. How irresponsible. We had to do it. They offered to pay half of the fee which was better than nothing, but it still sucked that we had to cover for something for which we had no wrongdoing. I also told the owner to fix and be transparent in the descriptions so that no one else would have to face this. We just wanted a happy relaxing holiday — it turned out far from it.

Penalized for Cancellation due to COVID Exposure

My friend and I booked a week in a New York state lake house for August. Five days before the vacation was to begin, her roommate was exposed to COVID, and said roommate wasn’t aware of her exposure until three days before our trip, at which point she informed my friend.

Out of an abundance of caution, concern, and unwillingness to potentially spread COVID, we made the painful choice to cancel our trip. The host was immediately rude, behaved like we’d set out to screw her out of money intentionally, and mocked us for believing COVID to be a concern. Airbnb was zero help, and didn’t seem to give a damn about the fact that we were operating under extenuating circumstances while trying to be good members of our national community.

We managed to get half our money back after extensive time spent publicly confronting Airbnb on various social media channels, but the entire thing was disgraceful, and cemented the distrust I’ve always had for Airbnb (I mean, what with destroying rental markets, pricing locals out of their communities, and the racism far too prevalent on their platform). I will never book through them again.

Host Left Me Waiting Outside Until I Cancelled

A terrible host left without leaving me a key. I had to cancel after waiting many hours until the evening. Airbnb support workers couldn’t understand I had to cancel because the host decided to turn off her/his phone and didn’t plan to arrive to bring the key. The host’s behaviour has been terribly rude. The host decided to play games by leaving me outside in the cold and thought he/she would still get the payment.

I had to write too many times to support. I also called and did everything I could until days later I finally got a refund. It was very difficult to get help and some of the support workers didn’t believe anything I told them. Some of the workers wanted to let the host keep the payment. I didn’t get any help to find other accommodations; I had to do all the searching by myself.

After all of this Airbnb still let the fake host keep the apartments visible on Airbnb. The host didn’t have a real name, only a nickname and no surname visible on the receipt. After that it is very difficult to believe anything on Airbnb. They want to see guests’ full names and passports but for them it is enough if a host has only a nickname. It was not a Superhost. Airbnb also decided not to accept a review of this behaviour so new guests can’t know what that host will do to them. It is very unfair guests have to keep all this information to themselves but they let hosts lie and scam others. They support liars. Moreover, they lie by supporting them.

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Airbnb Host Ghosted us During Winter Storm

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Don’t expect any communication with this very sensitive host. If you try to give him any feedback about cleaning issues with his house, he throws a temper tantrum and acts like a little two-year-old. He gave us the silent treatment.

From Feb. 12-17, we decided to celebrate our 18-year anniversary in Nashville. We had never been there before so we decided to check it out. It’s only a six-hour drive from where we live. Usually we go overseas but with COVID we thought it would be safe to stay within the states.

We arrived at our Airbnb and noticed the fire pit on the roof wasn’t working so we mentioned it to our host. Very kindly and respectfully, we mentioned that we noticed a few dirty areas and that he should be aware that his cleaning crew was not doing a good job. We figured since we paid a $299 cleaning fee that the house should have been cleaned more thoroughly.

Instead of responding back to us to apologize and acknowledge the issue, he decided to ghost us. He didn’t respond to us for two days. Even when we messaged him a few more times, he did not speak to us. We have never met a host that acted like a two-year-old. My wife and I don’t have children so this was going to be difficult for us to handle. We do have a cat but our cat is more well behaved than this little child.

Two days passed and there was still no word. We started to get worried. Maybe he was on a timeout for misbehaving. Or maybe he was stuck in his crib and couldn’t reach his phone. Either way we decided to contact Airbnb and put out an APB.

Two hours after we contacted Airbnb, he finally messaged us. The reason why we were trying to reach him was because there had been an ice storm and we needed the driveway to be salted so we could safely come and go. This was exactly at 12:50 PM.

Hours had passed and there was still no word from him. We decided to try to leave the property to get food that night but there was no way we could leave. We slipped everywhere. We decided to park back in the driveway and stay home.

When he messaged back, this is what he said:

“I’m not able to get out and salt the driveways of all my rentals. This is highly unusual for Tennessee.”

This message was at 9:06 PM. It took him eight hours to message us back that day. When I mentioned to him that I had reached out to Airbnb to see why he hadn’t messaged us back he said:

“I didn’t know you messaged Airbnb haha. You’re a great guest.”

This child has a real attitude problem. Sounds like he needs a spanking. So I’ll be honest I got smart back. I said:

“And now your wifi isn’t working haha. Great house.”

Then he said:

“Feel free to leave.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa. He wanted us to leave? How dare he tell us to leave.

After hearing that, we didn’t feel safe or welcome in his home anymore, so we decided to leave that morning. Fortunately it snowed that night so we were able to have a little traction to get out. We had to drive in reverse to get out but we did it.

You’re probably wondering, what did Airbnb do? Absolutely nothing. Airbnb was useless. Apparently Airbnb has changed their terms and conditions. This did not work well for us. Airbnb informed us that if we didn’t contact them within 24 hours of arriving at the property then they can’t do anything. Even though we had proof that our host did not respond for a whole two days and that we had cleaning issues from the time we arrived, it didn’t matter to Airbnb.

As a warning to anyone using Airbnb, you must correspond with the host as well as with Airbnb for every issue. Don’t allow anytime to go by without informing Airbnb and taking pics of everything. In the end, Airbnb only offered a 25% coupon for the first night which was $70. We at least expected a refund on the two nights we weren’t there. But that didn’t happen.

In conclusion we were not pleased to pay $2,265.88 for five nights which included a $299 and $244.80 fee for just two people. This is an anniversary we will never forget.

Illegal Properties, Two Weeks of Waiting for Airbnb

I’m currently dealing with a case where the host is breaking Vancouver’s strict Airbnb laws. All four of her units use expired business licenses. I don’t understand how Airbnb can force their guests to stay at illegal rentals, let alone expect them to go forward with their international travel plans with no resolution to their issue.

I have contacted Airbnb customer support countless times over the last week with no one being of the “correct department” or training to actually just take the moment to call the city of Vancouver and verify their laws. The host is also deceptively listing the units as apartments rather than what it actually is: a house split up into four Airbnb properties. She has no exterior photos and you only find out once you book the unit.

This breaks Vancouver’s strict short term and long term rental laws as it’s not her principal residence. You also cannot rent multiple portions of one home at the same time on Airbnb. Also without a private entrance I don’t see how these units can be safe during COVID-19, especially for someone going through quarantine. Two weeks of waiting for someone to call me back and my trip is now three days away.

Airbnb and its Hosts’ Unethical Practices

In November I booked a stay at an Airbnb one bedroom condominium in Palm Springs listed as for mid-February to late March. Per Airbnb requirements, I paid a total deposit of $3,135 for this to Airbnb. At the time, COVID-19 was declining.

Then in December 2020, the COVID situation turned worse in California and on Jan. 6, the California Department of Public Health issued a travel advisory stating that “non-essential travelers from other states or countries are strongly discouraged from entering California.” The official state document issued by the governor’s office, referenced in the travel advisory, also included a restriction that stated for “hotels and lodging: allow to open for critical infrastructure support only.”

Based these conditions and further recommendations by Dr. Anthony Fauci and other health professionals that the COVID-19 crisis was still on the rise in California and not likely to see a reduction soon, and that Riverside County (home to Palm Springs) had one of the highest infection rates in the country, I cancelled the reservation in mid-January and told both Airbnb and the hosts that I would be willing to use my refund amount to rebook at this property at a later date and suggested specific dates in April and May.

The host told me they (and Airbnb) agreed to this in January and told me “they would contact Airbnb to find out how to allow me to book for these new dates using the $3,135 I already paid” for the reservation in February. During the next two weeks, I kept asking them when they would do this. They kept saying “we are busy and will do today” but they never did.

After two weeks of pleading with them to follow up on their agreement to allow me to rebook using my deposit for the original reservation, and still no action on their part, I had no choice but to realize they never intended to allow me to rebook using my deposit. When I contacted Airbnb, they told me “the host was refusing to release my deposit” to use for a booking in the future. When the host finally did respond, after I repeatedly complained to Airbnb, the host told me “it was really Airbnb that was not allowing them (the hosts) to use my deposit to rebook at a later date.”

So now the hosts were blaming Airbnb for this debacle. I’m stuck in the middle of the hosts saying Airbnb won’t let them rebook my new dates using my deposit, and Airbnb saying the hosts won’t allow a refund. Both Airbnb and the hosts were blaming each other. In the meantime, the hosts rebooked guests into their property during the time I originally booked so they are receiving payments for the new bookings and keeping my deposit. Essentially making twice the price for the time between mid-February and the end of March while I’m out $3,135.

While this may not be illegal, I certainly think it is unethical and wrong. Then to top this off, the host tried to get me to put an additional deposit down for future dates and saying they “would release my original deposit when they received additional deposits for future dates.” I told them they must think I’m a fool if they thought I would give them more money while they still had my original deposit and would not use it to rebook. How these hosts can maintain their status as “Superhosts” while consistently lying to me is unbelievable. How Airbnb sanctions this wrongful behavior is equally unbelievable to me.

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Hoped to Go Back to Paris, Ended Up Out $400

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Like most folks, we were feeling lockdown blue in the late fall of 2020. Our family has traveled to Paris a few times over the years, so we thought we’d give it shot for a late March trip in the hope that the world would be a bit more open. We went big this year and planned a two-week trip and found a small apartment in Montmartre. A couple of airplane tickets and a great room booked, we felt a little light at the end of the lockdown tunnel.

Fast forward to this week. We had decided to start checking out things and making new arrangements, as needed, a month out. When I researched France’s current travel restrictions, it seemed obvious that we couldn’t go. With a bit of a sigh and consolation that we’d stay stateside, we proceeded to cancel our airline tickets (full value in an e-credit through Delta with no problems) and attempted to cancel our room.

I expected and would have been fine with a reasonable cost related to cancelling the room. No luck. Airbnb stated it was up to the host to refund the $400+ we had paid. The host denied the request and Airbnb (even after reaching out on Twitter) deferred to the original support contact.

Did Airbnb offer or suggest any other solution? No.

Did they agree to refund their fee (25% of the deposit)? No.

While many travel companies are working hard to care for people who are willing to travel, Airbnb imposes a policy that protects them and their hosts with no consideration for the travel restrictions. Perhaps the host will decide to show us some consideration and agree to some of his share being returned. Airbnb seems to be happy keeping their money and losing another customer after 10 trips since 2014.

Greedy Airbnb Host at Apartment in Hobart, Australia

February was proving to be a tough month in Perth. Effective from 6:00 PM Jan. 31 until 6:00 PM Feb. 5, the Perth metropolitan area, Peel and South West regions entered a lockdown. At the same time, out of control bush fires were raging in the Perth hills and 86 homes were lost.

I had booked a much needed holiday in Hobart for Feb. 4 and was going to catch the bus up to see my dear friend in Burnie, Tasmania, on the 11th. I had to cancel all my reservations for Airbnb accommodations and sightseeing tours, and every vendor returned my money with a full refund.

With only one community transmitted case of COVID initially reported, the lockdown was immediate. We have had an almost honeymoon period, without any community transmitted cases of COVID-19 in Western Australia for ten months due to fast and strict measures by our state government.

As a mental health professional, I had been feeling I was approaching burn out and was finding the large influx of domestic violence cases had recently deeply affected me. I was waiting for a break. It looked like with no new cases had been reported we would be returning to low risk status, or so I thought.

Knowing the importance of self care, I booked five days at an Airbnb in Hobart and was going to travel to see my friend in Burnie after that stay. When I checked the cancellation policy, which was not upfront when I booked, the link took me to a long legal written description of exemptions for COVID-19. As every other vendor had given a full refund I was lulled into a false sense of trust.

I wrote the host when I booked, briefly explaining my situation and saying I wasn’t sure if restrictions would be lifted in time to travel on the 11th. I would never have booked if I knew it was a no refund property. An honest person would have messaged back that this was a no refund property and let me change the booking. I cancelled the booking one day later, after it became clear that Wester Australia’s status as a high-risk state had not changed.

That’s when I found out the host would only return the cleaning fee of $25 and was keeping the $466. I feel so enraged by this, not just the loss of the money but the lack of compassion and greed behind it. How can the host justify keeping my money under these circumstances? What else could it be but greed?

I contacted Airbnb and their representative was very gracious but the decision is the host’s to make and he would not refund my money. I am a kind and compassionate person and enraged that people like the host get away with taking advantage of others. A belief in justice is naïve and I choose to be an open-hearted person. Writing this post was a helpful outlet to let go of feeling like a victim to the host’s greed.