Cold-Hearted Airbnb Hosts after Traumatizing Death

I received some money for a gift for my birthday which was a few weeks ago and was planning to use it for my first, short solo trip to Seattle. I found Cory and Amanda’s cute place and was so excited to stay there. After booking my reservation I was getting ready to take my mom and our family friend to the airport, who had come to visit for the weekend. Suddenly I heard my mother screaming like I’ve never heard before. She yelled that her friend was not responding and to immediately call 911. When I saw her I knew that we were too late: she was cold, purple and stiff. I’ve seen dead bodies before but nothing like this. I will truly be traumatized for a long time. A couple hours after making the reservation I told Amanda and Cory what had happened and asked for a refund since they had a strict cancellation policy. My reservation was still two days away and they refused… several times actually. They informed me that I should have known better and was aware of their policy when I booked.

Had I been aware that a loved one was lying dead in the next room I would have never booked the trip. Airbnb was actually very nice to me. I talked to two individuals who tried to get a refund on my behalf and were unsuccessful. I was floored by how cold and rude these people were to me. I even asked to just change dates for a time in the future and wasn’t able to. I hope that I never make someone feel as lousy as Amanda and Cory made me feel. You hope that most people are compassionate and good but this is just an example of how horrible some people can be. It’s also a little about the money for me: I make about 30k a year and have student loans, so trips like these are rare for me. I lost all of my birthday money and will not get to go on a trip. My advice would be to book a place without a strict cancellation policy because if something happens to you you’ll probably be screwed.

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


  1. Sounds like you were more traumatized about the lack of refund rather than the death. Sorry but I have little sympathy for people who don’t have travel insurance

  2. You want to cancel because your mom’s friend is dead? What’s next? The President has just been assassinated and I’m too traumatized to travel? Give me a break!

  3. You don’t know the situation of the hosts either. For example they may be in bad need for the cash because of some tragic situation of their own. They may have a high mortgage to cover the apartment. Who knows. The booker agreed to the strict conditions. You can ask for a refund or rescheduling but if they refuse you can’t blame them for anything. Bad luck, that’s all.

  4. Like Jon said, this is a tough one but I don’t know if I would have refunded this guest. Plain and simple- the renter agreed to this cancellation policy. If they had booked with a hotel or a “flexible” cancellation policy then the renter would have there money back no questions asked. I almost make it a rule of thumb to never book “strict” cancellations just because there is zero chance of refund. I would have asked for a refund or a courtesy reschedule, but I would not have come to AirBnBHell to complain that the hosts denied me a refund. Some hosts depend on income from their listings and like the renter they may be in dire financial straights. Or they might plan on retiring the listing and cannot offer a reschedule. I think situations like this are tragic but it doesn’t make the hosts evil people.

  5. I’m surprised how many people are not siding with this airbnb booker.
    This person only made the booking a few hours before trying to cancel/reschedule it. It’s not like they made the booking weeks/months before and therefore lost earnings for the host would have been more of an issue due to other people being unable to book those dates.
    I’d really like to hope that most people, even with ‘strict’ cancellation policies, would at least reschedule in this case!

  6. This is a difficult one. The other side of the argument is that the hosts should not have to suffer lost earnings as a result of your tragedy. With two days to go they may have been unlikely to find anyone to rebook. Allowing you to stay at a later date may still mean they are out of money, as they would earn no additional rent for that later period. Plus you don’t know what their past experiences are. Unfortunately some people will invent tragic circumstances and play on heart strings to get refunds. I do sympathise with your position here. Financially someone had to be the loser. No doubt many hosts would have accepted it would be them, though I wouldn’t go as far as blaming hosts that say the loss should lie with someone in your position.

  7. Blanga, no travel insurance would have covered this, as it was a friend of the mother. Travel insurance only covers holidays cancelled due to death/serious illness of immediate relatives, not their friends.

  8. Sorry that happened. When I was a host a couple times things like that happened. If airbnb had allready released your payment to them, and they could not refund it, at the very least they should have offered an alternative date for you to visit. That would have been what I would have done. Some people are not so understanding.

  9. this is exactly the reason why one should hava a travel insurance (or avoid making bookings with a strict cancel policy)…

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