Host Cancels and I Lose the Service Fee?

Here is my letter to Airbnb after a recent trip to Croatia. I sent this a week ago and haven’t had any response yet. The host  has three listings in Split.

Please go back and read the email chain between myself and this host. Also, read the emails that went between myself and Airbnb. Check the times and dates on them. I booked this listing on the morning of July 12th. The host accepted my request and took my money for the booking, including all fees.

My wife and I then got in the car and drove from Trieste, Italy all the way down to Split, where we expected to check in. After paying $40 in tolls, a tank of gas, and the 4+ hours of driving, I received a message from this host claiming, “Thank you but I am so sorry, booking and Airbnb something mix. We are not free today”. But she had already taken my money.

So, there we were, room cancelled from right under us, after all this driving. This was when I started my communication with Airbnb. After a few messages between Airbnb and this host, my money was refunded… minus the Airbnb service fee. That was about $40. WTF is that?

Over the next few days, I sent several emails to Airbnb asking for my service fee back. When Airbnb did reply, they told me that “service fees are not refundable”. I heard this in all replies from Airbnb after explaining what had happened.

For an operation as big as Airbnb, this is truly a scam. Seriously, read the messages from this host. They cancelled the booking, not me. How can Airbnb think that they can take my money, when I didn’t cancel the booking? And even worse, every response from Airbnb simply restated that service fees are non-refundable. Either you didn’t understand that the host cancelled, or you are just a scam of a business.

After reading up on Airbnb hosts, I have been led to believe that this is a common scam that some Airbnb hosts pull: list the property on several different booking sites and accept bookings for that day only to cancel all of them except the highest one. Why wouldn’t the hosts do this if they don’t have to reimburse the service fees? Yet, Airbnb feels that they are entitled to keeping the service fee from the person who books? Dirty business on the host’s, and Airbnb’s part.

In the end, after several days of trying to get my service fee back, Airbnb offered me the amount back in a “goodwill credit”. Huh? Goodwill? Credit? At this point the last thing I wanted was a credit that obligates me to booking another Airbnb listing. This situation took over three days and nine messages from me to Airbnb, plus several messages to the host, to ultimately having Airbnb not give my actual money back.

Below is a quote from your last message to me. “Please know that we appreciate your loyalty and I am personally looking forward to many more years with you. We are here to support you 24/7 and can be contacted any time over email and the phone.”

24/7 support? At one point, I didn’t get a reply to my messages for over 48 hours. Please, read all of the messages that went back and forth regarding this booking. Any reasonable consumer will see how I got scammed here.

On the day that I drove to Split, only to have my booking cancelled, I ended up having to book a place at the last minute in Trogir, 30 minutes outside of Split. This was a direct result of one of your hosts cancelling my booking… and you charged me the service fee.

Airbnb wasted a lot of my time (booking, driving, rebooking, messaging, follow up, etc) and caused me to have to rebook 30 minutes away from the original booking. This made me incur more costs that shouldn’t have happened. As a consumer, I figure that Airbnb owes me money, not a bogus “goodwill voucher”. Airbnb should be going after this host to cover the my costs involved. Airbnb wants reviews of their hosts, and Airbnb. I did review this host but, of course, that review doesn’t get posted. Apparently, Airbnb is protecting this host’s listing and credibility. That is very deceptive to potential renters.

If you won’t post my reviews, I will post my own. Twitter, Facebook, etc. I don’t have to embellish this story in any way at all. I will be sure to include the host’s information and listings as well. So that is why my score is so low. If the exact same thing happened to you, you’d be pissed too.

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