Promised a Full Refund, Only Received Half

Anticipating the craziness of a parents’ weekend lodging nightmare, I made a reservation right away on September 19 after we got home while my hubby was still dragging bags from the van. The reservation was for October 1-4. At matriculation day on August 15, I received an email from my son’s school that the weekend was cancelled due to COVID-19.

I went online on the 16th to cancel my reservation. The instructions stated I should call my host to ask for a full refund. If she agrees, I would get my full refund. She did. I got an email back that I would be refunded the full amount of $200.98 but in reality, I only got half: $100.74.

I called the host back. She said that she gave me a full refund of $170 and sent me the receipt with a note stating it was a “penalty free” refund. I told her I did not get the $170. Instead I have $100.74 and I do not need the $170, just $100.74. She said that I should take it to Airbnb now since it is between me and Airbnb. Her partner explained to me that when I booked, the money went to Airbnb; they get paid after the guests stay. I compared her refund receipt number and the Airbnb refund receipt number; they were the same.

What happened to the $170? Where is my money? Their cancellation policy on COVID-19 is quite confusing because it states that they will give a full refund if the cancellation is due to COVID-19 and the hosts agree, which I qualify on both. But, it has also a window of dates that they consider “emergency dates” which my reservation and cancellation did not fit since I booked before COVID-19 and cancelled past their end of emergency date. Thus only a 50% refund.

Why would I be penalized for something that is out of my control? I made the reservation in good faith, paid in full for an accommodation I wouldn’t be using until a year later, and I did not cancel for whatever silly reason. I cancelled because due to COVID-19 our son will be “secured” in the barracks until his December holiday pick-up.

I called the number for help but of course there is no option about my situation because they do not entertain refunds (only current reservations). Instead, they encouraged me to read the link they sent me which is more or less the explanation again of their outrageous and unfair cancellation policy.

My son has two years left to complete his degree; I guess we will have to stay at Howard Johnson then. At least it gives me a clear option to book securely for an extra $10 and get a full refund in case of cancellation. I will continue to fight this to the end and will inform my son’s school’s alumni office which helps parents with accommodation information. We certainly do not need this degree of aggravation due to unfair policies. Thank you for providing this space where we can express our angst of injustice.

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