Dance Around Extenuating Circumstances Refund

I made a reservation on Jan. 15 for a stay in Kent April 25-May 9. My international flight from the U.S. to the U.K. was booked for April 1. All hell broke loose in March with COVID-19. With a travel ban, cancelled flights and looming domestic restrictions, I cancelled my Airbnb.

I was told I would get a partial refund, basically my first payment minus the reservation fee. Then I was told I would get the service fee back as a coupon, with many restrictions. I tried to print a copy of my refund amount; it stated zero. My host said I should be getting a refund from Airbnb. They said I need to get it from my host.

The extenuating circumstances policy for COVID-19 dated March 30 states reservations made before March 14 with a check-in date before May 31 are covered. Contacting Airbnb again, I was told it doesn’t apply to my booking as it was cancelled before March 30, despite my reminding them my flight was cancelled and no one could travel anywhere.

Are you confused yet? I have an English degree yet this has me frazzled. If my host cannot come through with a decent refund, then my next step is to try my credit card company and my travel insurance but this should not be necessary. Neither should my host have to carry this burden. I will not be risking Airbnb again.

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6 Comments

  1. UPDATE TO MY ORIGINAL POST.

    I finally got really shirty with Airbnb and demanded a straight answer after a deluge of texts going back and forth and no refund from either the host or Airbnb. Within hours I received a clear statement that a full refund had been issued to my credit card.Even then I didn’t believe it but sure enough the credit is there on my card statement.
    Thank you Airbnb for finally doing the right thing.Im not sure yet whether I’ll use them again in the future- it’s hard not to- but i’ll be warier of all booking terms.Hang in there if you’re going through the same experience.I did not let up in my replies and had paper copies to refer to in my complaints. Perhaps they paid me to shut me up( I really was relentless) but I truly am grateful.

    BONUS: Virgin Atlantic also came through for me with a full refund.

  2. Same thing happened to me! Me and my bf made a reservation for Bali from May 15-May 28th. Because of Covid-19, we had to cancel since our flight was cancelled by Singapore Airlines (who also refuses to give our money back but give us a voucher) and because both Singapore, where we had a layover at, and Bali are prohibiting non-essential travel. On March 25th, we were Informed by an Airbnb rep that we could cancel under the “extenuating circumstances” policy since we booked in early February. Once we cancelled, it said we would receive back $0 out of the $562 deposit we made! We called airbnb again who informed the host had to accept. Well, after days of pestering, the host told us he’d be keeping our money since “he had mouths to feed”. Wtf?! Like I don’t have a job right now either because of this and I have to pay rent. Again, called airbnb with little luck. On march 30th the policy changed to extend to any reservations until may 31st. Called airbnb again who refused to refund us since we cancelled 5 days before the policy updated at the direction of the airbnb representative. For someone who studies law, I agree, their policy is unconscionable since there is no fine print, confusing, and contradictory. It’s a scam since one you make a deposit, the money is in escrow until it is releases to the host once the final deposit is made and your check in day begins. So, basically airbnb is taking my money held in escrow which one of the many representatives basically admitted to us.
    If someone wants to file a class action lawsuit, I would LOVE to join since this is highly unethical.

  3. Same here !! Cancelled in February due to COVID 2 months before the check-in date.
    At first the host said I should contact Airbnb regarding the refund and greedy Airbnb said I need to get it from my host. Every time I submitted the so-called proofs Airbnb denied refund on senseless excuses !!
    After 2-3 weeks since the COVID situation is worsening, the host agreed to refund and guess what the host said no one on the Airbnb side even contacted him these 2-3 weeks about my refund requests while I was contacting them constantly for the refund !!!
    Appalling customer service and no care for hosts or the guests !!

  4. I, as a host, had a cancellation 2 weeks BEFORE the full refund policy was announced, which meant 50% refund to guest and 50% to the host because it was 8 days prior to arrival. 2 weeks after I got paid, the announcement for the full refund was sent out. Airbnb came back against me and levied a fine for the amount I got paid because they decided it was probably due to the virus that the guest cancelled (even though the guest cancelled well before the issue) and that the guest deserved the full refund. The CEO made the announcement and stated refunds would come from a $250m refund from AIRBNB. What they did not specify was that is was being pulled back from the Host to be paid from Airbnb. I sympathize with all on this medical crisis but the cancellation policy in effect was how I was paid out. You cannot come back 2 weeks later and decide you want the money back and the leave NO way for me to contest. I contacted customer support who told me it was a done deal and they made their decision and I would have no say or input. I pulled all availability off.

  5. If you want a full refund, wait until airbnb does offer that.
    If you cancel yourself, before or after of or for another period than offered ororor, you will get what the official return policy is then.

    In fact, this behavior is not guest friendly – as the cancelation with full refund is not host friendly. But it is perfectly correct.

    airbnb does not have to mind about any other circumstances – if your flight is canceled, you could still go by car, horse, canoe etc.

    you could get an insurance against your risk of travel – although I did not find any covering the risk of a pandemie. Those I know do cover only if you get sick yourself.

    I fully understand your disappointment – but think about it from the point of view of your host – how will they live without their income? How about airbnb – they managed to give you the choice to select a guest home and to do the payment for it. There’s not much more you could ask for. And the cancellation policy is given in detail as soon as you book.

  6. Unfortunately, you are not alone. I am a host who had a guest cancel and they did not even mention the virus. We were paid a partial refund because the guest cancelled 8 days before arrival and 2 weeks before the new cancellation policy went into effect. 2 weeks later Airbnb tells me they are taking BACK the payment to cover cancellations. this is 1 weeks after the CEO announced the 250million dollar payout to cover the losses hosts and guests encountered. It appears they are only covering their loss so it works both ways that guests and hosts are not getting the money they are due.

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