Disappointed Airbnb Guest in the Time of COVID

We booked our family holiday with a $4000 deposit. We talked to our host. Under his policy, he wouldn’t give us a refund or travel credit.

As our borders closed, we contacted Airbnb. We saw on the company’s social media on March 19 that guests would be compensated. After emails back and forth to Airbnb and phone calls we had no luck with my refund or travel credit.

We kept stating we booked in August 2019 and our travel was for May 11, 2020. We followed social media and websites stating this policy was extended until May 31. Again, we were asking where our deposit was. Airbnb staff said they would give our deposit to the host 24 hours after check in. I then questioned why are you going to do that? Airbnb seemed to be supporting the host.

However, now the host is telling us to cancel our booking. Why would the Airbnb contact centre not give us a manager to speak with? As I continue to read the wording of the COVID cancellation policy, it states guests will get a refund.

Again, I contacted Airbnb with no help except a customer representative stating that they would hold our deposit. Their system will be giving our money to the host and this is out of their control.

I am in tourism. I have worked with other booking channels and never had such a bad experience. As I said, we cancelled our booking as the host told us we would get our money back after the announcement of the COVID-19 policy that changed in regards to refunds. We canceled on March 20. Airbnb put out a statement for refunds on March 19.

I hope this reaches management. It seems that booking.com, Agoda, Expedia are not making money on guests. It was hard enough having to cancel flights and tours then have Airbnb not listen to you and say they’re following policy. Why would Airbnb make a social media announcement to the pubic about refunds but when it comes to getting a refund tell is a different story?

I work as a tourism ambassador in New Zealand and I know for sure my company will not be using Airbnb again.

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


  1. They are keeping my service fee in times of a world pandemic, when the host promised me a full refund in case I had to cancel??? Bad business; will not use in the future if they do not refund my full amount. Gone are the days when I reserve a place months in advance.

  2. I have also responded to the relief package but for a month now I am still trying to contact SOMEONE who would answer my inquiry. Only after discovering AirbnbHell did I manage to get a contact number. I will see what happens hereafter. Good luck to you all
    (South African host)

  3. They won’t refund our money either. We have a trip coming up in June and it is now within the limits of their Covid-19 cancellation policy. But all they all give us is $10 out of $1800. This is my first and last time to go through airbnb. I had heard all sorts of good things previously so I thought “why not?” Well now I know the why not.

  4. I to have found AirBNB to be very hard to deal with. They act in blatant disregard for their published policies and encourage their operators to be dishonest. If you challenge they simply shut down the thread frustrating any attempt to follow up. I have a lot of vouchers due to Covid-19 cancellations that I can only use for AirBNB online experiences which appear to be vastly over priced and dull.
    I too think there needs to be a media led campaign to embarrass them into providing some customer service.

  5. I am having the same problem at the moment.
    My booking is for August, in USA from Australia. The host was totally understanding, but Airbnb are holding nearly $1000 of a $3,700 deposit. There will be no travel allowed but Airbnb don’t view that as extenuating circumstances.
    I am waiting on a call from a Case Manager.
    I am ready to go to the media!

    • Karyn me and my friends are in the same boat for ready to go to media … we were charged $8400 for a trip planned 6/4-6/9 however we are no longer able to fly during this time due to Southwest Airlines cancelling our flight … they basically said well book through another airline… some of us are no longer working so minimal income unable to purchase another airline ticket … two of the other girls daughters graduation dates were pushed back now interfering with the dates we were scheduled to go… this is just unbelievable to me!! They offered 50% refund, that is them keeping $4200

  6. Airbnb lies blatantly. Their Covid policy is for PR and their practice (retaining deposits contrary to their published policy) is for cash flow. Highly unethical operators, including use of a closed, structured communication system that restricts customer access to senior management. The only practical remedy is not to use them in future.

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