Strict Cancellation Policy Costs me Hundreds

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I reserved a duplex in Las Vegas for a business trip. I used a corporate credit card to make the reservation and paid the full amount for one receipt (almost two months out from reservation). The host has a strict cancellation policy, but I was okay with that because I had no intentions of cancelling the trip (already paid for the conference I was attending). I read through the policy as best I could.

The next week I found out I violated the company travel policy and was told to cancel the reservation ASAP. I did. I got back half the total amount, minus service fee, since it was past 48 hours, but well within 14 days.

I contacted the host for mercy on the refund policy, since it was extenuating circumstances. Initially the host said I could either re-book another date, or she would refund two thirds of the price if the place was re-booked. I asked again for mercy that I could not afford to just leave $450 out there. My complaint was that if I had only paid the down payment, I would have only been out half of that amount (a quarter of the total). I was stupid enough to pay the full amount, not expecting any problems. I stated that I would pay the service fee plus another $100.

The host cut off all contact with me. I got a case worker involved and another case worker when the first was awful, then a manager of the case workers involved. Now I can’t even get the two-thirds refund that was stated in the host’s message, and Airbnb has told me they can mediate no longer with the host since she wishes to stop all communication. So I get screwed, while Airbnb and the host profit off of half of a six-day rental that I never took… and the place did re-book. What is Airbnb’s responsibility to the guest?

The last message said this: “We can no longer continue to assist you, as a final decision has been made on this case. I’m truly sorry for all that has happened, and I believe the host should be accountable, but we can no longer mediate anything from them as they are not willing to mediate with us any longer. We have a final decision already made by the last agent, so there would not be any further discussion about the refund.”

Apparently the host can decide when the case is shut, even more than a month before the reservation date. How is this even legal? Thankfully it wasn’t a super expensive place that would’ve cost me thousands instead of hundreds. Lesson learned: never pay the full amount up front and never rent from hosts with a strict cancellation policy.

I have a lakefront property that I was considering renting through Airbnb and wouldn’t ever do this to a renter. How do people sleep at night, knowing they essentially stole money from someone? I basically donated $450 to the host and Airbnb for a few email exchanges and phone calls. I should get a donation receipt.

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

11 Comments

  1. This is a very reasonable South African consumer protection law that would be very applicable to Airbnb cancellations. Does anyone know if we have anything similar in the USA?
    http: //www.seesa.co.za/your-rights-when-cancelling-a-booking-or-reservation/

  2. The same thing happened to me but it was half of the cost at 1300 dollars. They tried to pull those same lame excuses so I kindly disputed the charges for services not rendered because they took my money with no service given. Long story short my bank contacted airbnb and got my money back after about 30 day investigation that proved they took the money and did not provide a service. I also got s lawyer to make a call as well and I got ALL my money back. So keep fighting for your rights as a paying customer who air bnb is clearly taking advantage of.

  3. Whilst I sympathise with your plight, the fact remains that you accepted the cancellation terms and the risks at the time of booking.

    If the host does not want to show mercy that is the host’s prerogative. Similarly if a host has made a final decision and wishes to close the matter then that again is the host’s right.

    If a host does not want to accept the risk of loss of income due to cancellation and reflects that in the cancellation terms, then it is not fair that you accept the risk then wish to absolve yourself of the risk and place the onus on the host when your plans change. It was you, after all, who broke your company’s policy in booking the accommodation. You should have confirmed with your company before booking if it complied with their policy.

    Your company was to pay for your accommodation since you used a corporate credit card. Since you violated your company’s policy, I assume your company expects you to bear all costs. Have you asked your company for mercy and gone to websites for advice as you have done from the host or have you just accepted their decision without complaint? Are you treating each equally or holding only the host to account?

    It appears you did not wish to compromise at all for you rejected the host’s initial offer and tried for everything if your favour. When the host rejected your second plea for mercy, you then blame the host for ceasing negotiations.

    You say you were thinking of hosting and would not do as this host has done. Thinking and actuality are very different when you have bills due and you have allowed guests to cancel on a whim without penalty and thus no income. Would you charge the same rate if you knew you were assured of a receiving a certain amount of money for a booking or if you did not know if you would receive any money at all until the guest actually stayed? Risks cost money and are usually reflected in the price as occurs in an airfare with no changes or cancellation as opposed to a ticket which allows changes and cancellation.

    If you do not want to accept the risk and consequences of unexpected events then you should take out travel insurance and not expect others to bear the risk for you. That is the purpose of travel insurance.

    • “If the host does not want to show mercy that is the host’s prerogative.” – Of course, but when she does in writing, she should have to carry through on that offer.

      “Similarly if a host has made a final decision and wishes to close the matter then that again is the host’s right.” – When money has exchanged hands, and the contracted dates for the reservation and/or the window of time for refund has not passed yet, the case should not be closed!

      “You should have confirmed with your company before booking if it complied with their policy.” – I did with my boss, but the higher ups vetoed the whole thing. There was a misunderstanding, since there’s not any clear written policy on Airbnb rentals at my workplace….but there should be now!!!!

      “Have you asked your company for mercy and gone to websites for advice as you have done from the host or have you just accepted their decision without complaint?” – Of course I pursued every option on both sides! I’ve also spoken directly with the company credit card holder, whose disputing the charges with Airbnb. Next is filing complaints at BBB and the Federal Trade Commission. Interestingly enough, I also found this host’s business page on FB too, so I may leave a review there, since I can’t on Airbnb.

      “It appears you did not wish to compromise at all for you rejected the host’s initial offer and tried for everything if your favour. When the host rejected your second plea for mercy, you then blame the host for ceasing negotiations.” – No, you don’t understand how it all went down, and it’s very difficult to explain with Airbnb and the host throwing me back and forth via phone and email. The fact remains that she offered 2 options, reschedule or cancel with possibility of 2/3 refund upon rebooking (see screen shot), and since the cancellation and rebooking occurred, 2/3 refund should be mine.

      “You say you were thinking of hosting and would not do as this host has done. Thinking and actuality are very different when you have bills due and you have allowed guests to cancel on a whim without penalty and thus no income.” – It was not on a whim, and not at the last minute, and I never thought she should leave empty-handed. Of course it makes sense to pay a reasonable penalty, which I offered. I still think I’d handle my guests more reasonably than a system that will gauge someone who barely missed the 48 hour mark and fell within the 14 day window, while quickly double-dipping through another guest. As it stands, she and Airbnb did better now than if I could’ve kept my reservation! There should be a sliding scale/pro-rated fee schedule that is fair to both the guest and the host.

      “If you do not want to accept the risk and consequences of unexpected events then you should take out travel insurance and not expect others to bear the risk for you. That is the purpose of travel insurance.” – I’m not familiar with any offered through Airbnb, and will have to find out if my work place has any that may apply in this situation.

      • You did not say or make clear in your post, nor anywhere for that matter, that you actually accepted her offer of 2/3 refund if property was re-let. Instead your very next sentence to that offer you wrote ” I asked again for mercy that I could not afford to just leave $450 out there” which implies that you did not accept her offer but tried for more. If you have written proof that you accepted her offer, it changes the situation completely.

        Since you now say that you did in fact clear it with your immediate manager it is very unfair of your company holding you alone liable. The responsibility should have then passed to your manager. It puts you in a very difficult position.

        If a final decision has been made, what difference to that decision would there be if the case had been left open until the 14th day? Final decision means final. And barely missing the 48 hour deadline still means you missed the deadline.

    • As a host, I might state a strict refund policy if I was having particular problems with people canceling at the last minute, but I would also take situations case by case and be more reasonable in these sort of situations where the guest was upfront and told me there was a problem they couldn’t avoid right away. Obviously, she started out handling it this way, but then renigged. Why? She was able to rebook right away, so there was no loss to her. In my opinion, policies are meant as a framework, but to have a successful, ethical business, one should use common sense and treat the customer the way they would want to be treated.

  4. But that is what a strict cancellation policy is… and these are not really extenuating circumstances.

    You cannot demand mercy, and call the host a thief.

    • Ummm, yes I would consider this situation extenuating circumstances if I were the host. It really wouldn’t be any skin off my teeth to give back 2/3 of the entire rental cost, like she promised, when she also was able to rebook since the person notified her right away that there was a problem.

      • You may consider them to be extenuating circumstances but neither I nor AirBnB consider them to be extenuating. AirBnB apparently have in their T&C definitions of what extenuating means, eg dangerous weather of hurricanes tornadoes, etc.
        The host made as part of an offer, not promised, an option to refund 2/3 of the rental. There is no proof from the information given that the guest accepted that offer.

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