My Airbnb Refund is in the Clouds Somewhere

I initially made a reservation for a luxury condo on Wednesday, September 19th online through the Airbnb app. All I received as confirmation at that point was an email. It did not give any policy information about cancelling.

The host then responded and had questions that I needed to answer about those that would be staying under the reservation, to which I had to respond through the message link on the Airbnb application. After responding I received a booking receipt in an email on September 20th. On none of the emails was there any information about the host cancellation policy.

There were six of us planning to go. I paid the initial payment of $2,266.75 on my credit card. I tried to contact the host through the app ten months ago to pay the final amount as some of our party wanted to make sure it was paid for before traveling. I had planned to ask if we could change out one guest for another due to one not being able to travel. The host did not respond to my message.

I contacted Airbnb directly on March 15 about how to cancel due to another one of the guests being in a car accident and not being able to travel due to serious medical issues that were detected during examination after the car accident. I reached out to Airbnb due to not hearing back from the host previously. I was told by the Airbnb representative over the phone that if the host had not made contact that I should report it to my credit card company, which I did on March 15th.

I was told by the credit card rep that it wouldn’t be a problem and that CitiBank would open an investigation. I was also told by the Airbnb rep that if the guest that had been in the accident would provide his medical records, Airbnb would do a refund due to special circumstances. The guest did not want to provide his personal medical information as he felt that was a violation of his privacy, which he has a right as to what medical information he wants others to see.

The Airbnb rep said to report it to my credit card company, which I did when I made the initial call. I had to respond to an Action Required report that the credit card company sent out and I returned on April 1st. During this timeframe I also found out that my mother was gravely ill and unexpectedly passed away in early June. We were planning on her traveling with us to Grand Cayman as a replacement for the guest that was in the accident.

As you can imagine this is devastating to me and to my sister who was also part of the party traveling. The Airbnb rep also told me I should get a full refund due to special circumstances and cancelled the reservation. Not true; I got no refund. In the meantime the credit card company did their investigation and the host or Airbnb send the cancellation policy information to them. They in turn sent it to me but is was not legible, neither the paper copy nor the emailed copies.

The credit card company sided with Airbnb and the charged me back the $2,266.75, stating that all information was conflicting on my part. The host rebooked the accommodation because it was not available after the cancellation At that point not only did he make money off of me but off of others as well. I did not receive any of the policies that he sent to the credit card company in the chargeback investigation.

I resent my justifications to my credit card company and let them know that Airbnb stated to me that this was a special circumstance. This is a special circumstance with one party being ill and unable to travel and another party now deceased. I feel that the host did not provide the correct information when I booked the reservation. It should have been clearly stated on the email confirmation which it was not. Also, his failure to respond to my correspondence should also be taken into consideration.

I should not be responsible for services not received, especially when not receiving proper documentation. Never, when cancelling other overnight accommodations have I been asked to provide personal, private, or medical information.

I decided to reach out to the host directly through the Airbnb app message portal hoping by chance he would get it, which he did. He responded on July 16th that he thought it was all taken care of by my credit card company but since it was not, he would refund me $1,980 (less a service fee, which I was okay with). It was supposed to get a credit back within 5 to 7 business days.

I waited ten days and contacted my credit card company. They stated that they did not see a credit. They also reopened the investigation with the new information from the host I provided. I then contacted Airbnb who stated it was not something on their end that I needed to contact my credit card company. I told them I had but they again stated that there was nothing they could do. I again reached out to the host who contacted Airbnb and was told it would be processed shortly.

Three days later it was still not processed. Airbnb was contacted again, and this time I was told it was going to their investigative team and they would reach out to me in a day or two. As of August 16, I still have not heard back from them. If the host is wants to refund me, what is the hold up?

This was my first experience with booking an Airbnb and will most definitely be my last if I ever get this resolved. That amount of money may not be an issue with Airbnb but it is to me. Expenses relating to my mom’s funeral are immense and I am not a wealthy person. I work for state government for a very meager salary.

Any advice or direction on how or who to contact would be greatly appreciated. I have not faults now with the host. He seems to be genuine. My issues are with Airbnb directly. And of course my credit card company. It’s been a battle to say the least between the Airbnb and my credit card company. Very stressful at an already difficult time. Still awaiting refund or at least communication with Airbnb and my credit card company. Maybe I need to go to social media or national news.

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4 Comments

  1. I smell fish. The host doesn’t even get your money until 24 hours after you check-in. Airbnb has your money until then. Why would they tell you to call your credit card company because the host didn’t respond, unless they were telling you to use your credit card’s travel insurance.

    Citi has travel insurance on their cards, and you could get refunded through them just like you could get refunded through Airbnb if you provide proper documentation. If you don’t want to do that, then consider that the price of your friend’s privacy.

    Basically, it looks like Airbnb and your credit card company thinks you’re lying about the reason for cancelling. I imagine after reading the inconsistencies in this story, most other people will, too. Hopefully the host re-booked all of the days of the reservation, but since the host doesn’t get any of your money from Airbnb until 24 hours after your scheduled check-in, don’t expect to get any refund from the host until then.

  2. Can you not make a claim with your travel insurance? that’s the exact kind of situation travel insurance is for when you have to cancel unexpectedly. Maybe the booking was non-refundable or a strict cancellation policy, even if the host wants to refund you. I’m sorry about your mom and the person who had an accident, but really this is what travel insurance is for

  3. How do you expect Airbnb to make a refund based on illness when you do not want to provide documentation of the illness? The company would not have any way to discriminate an invented illness from a real one.

  4. If you have not paid your credit card company, you put them on notice that you will NOT pay the charges. But if you have paid them and they are not helping you, and Airbnb is just giving you a run around, I suggest you call Federal Trade Comission and see if they can help you.

    I have used Airbnb 2x only, the first one was okay, no problem but the second one was very disappointing.

    Good luck!

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