Airbnb Refusing to Refund Service Fee Despite Cancellation Policy

My wife and I booked an Airbnb property that stated it had a full cancellation policy if we cancelled by August 15. I went to cancel on June 21 (two months ahead of the date where the policy changes) and the website refused to refund the $500 service fee. I contacted customer support and they stated if we cancelled that day and ahead of August 15 we would receive the $500 service fee.

Customer support has been a nightmare and then later said the cancellation policy states the service fee is non-refundable. My wife and I both checked the cancellation policy ahead of time and it was a full free cancellation. In addition, the previous customer service person agreed that the service fee is refundable. The property is no longer showing on the site so I’ve asked them to produce the actual cancellation policy tied to the listing and show it to me. They’ve failed to do this. This is horrible customer service. $500 may be a small amount for a company like Airbnb but this is a huge amount for a family. Extremely disappointed by their level of service here.

Airbnb and Host Misrepresented Cancelation Policy — I Lost Over $2200

I appreciate this website as a voice to expose Airbnb’s dreadful behavior. At the end of my missive, I have two questions, and would appreciate any advise.

This last fall, my wife and I wanted to rent a house in Florida, while we considered buying a condo. Before booking, I wrote the Airbnb host and asked about the cancellation policy, as we didn’t want to lose our deposit if we ended up buying a condo. The host wrote: “Please check the cancellation policy for my listing on Airbnb for the exact details, but it’s basically you get a full refund if you cancel five days or more before your check in date.”

Before booking, I searched the Airbnb website for the cancellation policy and was directed to a page that said, “on Airbnb, hosts can choose which cancellation policies to offer to guests, and guests can review them before booking.” The web page even mentioned five days — I have a screenshot. I booked. We ended up buying a condo, and I immediately wrote the host and let her know we would not need the rental, and to please return the advanced deposit, since we were still 31 days from the check-in date. The host refused.

On appeal to Airbnb, they told me there is a clause in the terms and conditions that says for stays longer than 28 days (mine was planned for two months), the host does not set the cancellation policy, and they will not return my deposit. Classic bait and switch. Then the host lied and said “When you asked about my cancellation policy, I did not realize you were making a long-term reservation.”

The truth is I told the host my length of stay was two months, in the very first communication. Airbnb and the host both continued to keep the money, and refused to honor what was clearly promised. I have formally appealed to Airbnb management and they will not consider returning my money unless the host agrees. Dead end. I have complete records of all communications, receipts and screenshots.

I’d like to post a review of the host on Airbnb website to alert others, but Airbnb does not allow reviews unless you physically stayed at the rental. Does anyone know how to leave a review in my circumstances? I also plan to post on BBB. Any other suggestions for recourse?

Lost $900 Because of Airbnb’s COVID Policy

I have tried getting Airbnb’s help over the phone, I’ve tried getting help from the host and I have messaged four senior executives, including the CEO. I have not received a positive response so far. So now I’m sharing my issue publicly, to see if the company does something about it.

I booked a trip to Istanbul from May 7 to May 12, and made a reservation with an Airbnb host for all those days. A few days after I made the reservation, the government in Turkey has announced their first full lockdown. Although tourists would still be able to walk around, I’m sure you can understand that traveling to a place that has just entered their first full lockdown is not ideal, for many reasons. The main one for me was the possibility of being locked in Turkey and not able to travel back to my country of residence, Dubai.

Once we heard the news, my husband and I decided to postpone the trip. I messaged my host and politely asked to change the dates of my trip. He refused. I then asked for a refund, as I spent $900. He refused. He refused any refund whatsoever… not even 10% or 20%. I lost $900.

With that, I called Airbnb, who informed me that they have an extenuating circumstances policy. It says that trips booked before March 2020 could fall under this policy, but since I booked my trip two weeks ago, I’m not entitled to it.  Obviously, Airbnb is entitled to define its cancellation policies, but in my opinion, I believe this extenuating circumstances policy is completely outdated.

During COVID, all the major players in the tourism business, like hotels, airline companies and travel agencies have implemented much more flexible cancellation policies to encourage people to continue traveling during the pandemic. Today, if I buy a ticket with Emirates for example, I can change the dates without no extra charges. If I book a hotel, I can most likely change the dates or get a refund.

I had no issues at all changing the dates of my flight to Istanbul, the dates of my flight from Istanbul to Cappadocia or canceling my hotel reservation in Cappadocia. None of them have charged me anything for it, because they all understood the situation in the country.  Only Airbnb couldn’t be flexible on their policy and its host couldn’t offer new dates or even a partial refund.

I don’t think this is fair. But more than that, I don’t think this is smart. I would love to hear something positive from Airbnb, to help me get my $900 back. Is anyone interested in helping?

Loopholes Enabling Unethical Airbnb Host to Bait and Switch

I booked a long-term stay for a two-bedroom apartment in NYC on Airbnb for two people. When I was doing the search, it showed the same price for one, two, or more guests in the same apartment. The confirmation came back for one person somehow, so I immediately (less than ten minutes from booking) corrected that in the app and received another confirmation for two people.

I was looking into the address details of the booking I just paid $3,500 for. Surprisingly it still only showed the street name without any other details. So I contacted the host — appeared to be some company instead of an individual host — who insisted that because the reservation showed only one person (who is rich enough to book a two-bedroom apartment for just one person in NYC?), they wanted to charge me more than $1,000 for it.

I looked back into the app, which in fact, still showed the same price for even three or four people. They claimed that it was a system error. At that point, I believed them, and allowed them to cancel so I could rebook. There were plenty other properties around that did not cost more than what they originally charged plus $1,000. This was within 20 minutes of booking.

I contacted Airbnb support. They said that on their end I was confirmed for two people and the price was right. So I let them handle it. The operator also said if I felt uncomfortable with the host, I could cancel for free within 48 hours. The next day, Airbnb support called me, informed me that the host insisted on extra charges even though it was advertised with two people with the price I already paid. And if I cancelled, they could only offer a $150 coupon to book again on Airbnb. They just pocketed $3250 dollars.

The host claimed it was an error with Airbnb, but they refused to accept the full refund cancellation request. Instead they intend to just keep my money or ask for even more. This is all within 24 hours of booking. So, Airbnb leaves me with two choices: either pay $1,000 above the market rate to accept the booking, or lose $3,000 more to cancel. That is the place where Airbnb want their customers to be.

Airbnb Host Cancellation Leaves Guests with Few Options

I am so frustrated with this platform I am ready to be tied up and it seems a lot of other guests (and hosts) are as well. I was a big fan of Airbnb until a recent host cancellation soured it all.

I had used Airbnb in several countries in Europe and around the U.S and never had a major problem. I had always studied the properties, read all  the reviews, asked hosts pertinent questions (to gauge their competence) and finally figured out where they were actually located (the Airbnb map location is generally not accurate) so I could see them on Google Street view.

As I say, most of my experiences were good. Some exceeded expectations, a few did not meet standards, and some you have to accept based on their value-based location. However, I had never experienced a host cancelling on me. I had not even considered what the consequences would be and it was definitely not good for me on the particular trip I was taking.

I had to totally change my travel plans. Okay, s— happens as they say, but this is where this particular mode of vacation rental booking falls flat on its face. It is, after all, just a website, a platform where hosts can rent their properties on a global scale and likewise guests have unlimited possibilities of places to rent. However, there is an issue when there is literally no customer service.

For my cancellation, I was given a two-word explanation why the host had cancelled at the last minute along with several computer generated emails telling me what I could do. I was told I would receive a full refund (which I have not received yet but have no reason to believe they will renege on that) and also a measly $80 gift certificate if I re-booked on Airbnb.

The problem is I was screwed. There were no other properties available at such short notice. Airbnb customer service is practically nonexistent. All they care about is taking your money, literally months in advance in most cases. I had to completely change my travel plans and ended up booking somewhere else through VRBO.

In the future, I am not sure I will ever use this platform again and even if I do I am going to ask every host under what circumstances they would cancel my reservation. These hosts need to have some kind of backup plan in the event something happens to them or something changes, not just simply cancel. It may seem easy for them as there are little or no consequences, but for the guest this can cause huge issues.

Airbnb doesn’t give a hoot and they damn well should. While this kind of vacation renting may seem like a great idea (I certainly thought so) it does have its limitations. Hosts have had all sorts of problems with bad guests and vice versa and Airbnb apparently could not give a damn. They have your money. The only way they will get the message is if folks stop using them and they start losing money. It will be a bunch of computer geeks shutting down a platform and starting something else the next day.

Such is internet business. It’s great until something goes wrong. The smart ones sort it out for their customers. Airbnb does not.

From Free to Strict Cancellation Policy Before Stay

I live in London and I needed to book a house for my family in the same borough. My family was supposed to come here for my wedding. I found one house for them on Airbnb last October. I booked it accordingly with the cancellation policy, which reported a total refund if you cancel by 15 days before the check in date. This was perfect for me as I wouldn’t have booked a house with a strict cancellation policy in October for May given these strange times, the COVID issues related to many aspects of life and travels, as well as the age of my parents.

I even put this deadline in my agenda to remember it and not risk losing my deposit. Moreover, I remember a strange fact: I wrote to the host because when I was trying to pay to book it, the system was stuck. After a few minutes, it worked normally again. Unfortunately, my family cannot come in May as the situation with COVID is still risky and they are older people. In any case, I did not need to explain the reason to cancel the house as I was supposed to be on time to get back the whole deposit.

On March 2 when I was cancelling my reservation, I noticed a different cancellation policy in the house page on Airbnb. This ‘new’ policy said that you can have the whole deposit back only if you cancel 48 hours after the reservation. Or you could have 50% back by May 3.

I immediately wrote to both the host and the Airbnb Help Center. The host was upset, writing me back that she didn’t have my money that I had to ask Airbnb for it. The Airbnb Help Center asked for my money back from the host but she declined it. So, again, no money back for me.

Airbnb said that the booking confirmation email in my inbox reflected the correct policy. I noticed that it showed the ‘changed’ policy, not the one that caused me to book the house. It’s my fault for not having checked it properly when I received it but I was sure that it was alright. If I saw it, I would have cancelled immediately.

I also tried to get back at least 50% of my deposit, asking for it from the host. She declined, saying “I understand your frustration but it’s policy.”

Given the circumstances, this was gratuitously unfair. For this reason, I have been asking Airbnb to send me some evidence that shows what happened while I was booking, if it is possible that the host changed this policy while I was booking. My belief is based on what happened when I wanted to pay to book the house. The system was stuck for a few minutes. Is there anyone here that had this kind of experience?

Disgusting Service and Treatment for Airbnb Hosts

I am a Airbnb host and have just been in a spat with Airbnb customer service all day. For the last 12 months I have kept my Superhost status and was given a $100 voucher to use on other Airbnbs. I booked a few days away with my kids this weekend but because Auckland has gone into lockdown we had to cancel.

The host’s cancellation policy was relaxed and I was to receive a full refund. The only thing is I paid half with my coupon and half cash (on credit card). I was advised my credit card would be refunded but I was not given any information about my coupon. So I got in touch with Airbnb and they advised me that because I cancelled my booking, I would lose the coupon.

Honestly I’m in disbelief. I complained and tried to have my complaint escalated. I mean, after 12 months of earning money for them and paying thousands in fees for a measly $100 coupon, they bloody don’t refund it. Cancelling was out of my control – the host’s policy was relaxed. It is Airbnb who has kept my coupon. They absolutely refuse to issue me another coupon. It’s disgusting how they treat hosts. For this situation I never thought for a second they wouldn’t reinstate my coupon. Just very bad form and disgusting treatment.

Penalized for Cancellation due to COVID Exposure

My friend and I booked a week in a New York state lake house for August. Five days before the vacation was to begin, her roommate was exposed to COVID, and said roommate wasn’t aware of her exposure until three days before our trip, at which point she informed my friend.

Out of an abundance of caution, concern, and unwillingness to potentially spread COVID, we made the painful choice to cancel our trip. The host was immediately rude, behaved like we’d set out to screw her out of money intentionally, and mocked us for believing COVID to be a concern. Airbnb was zero help, and didn’t seem to give a damn about the fact that we were operating under extenuating circumstances while trying to be good members of our national community.

We managed to get half our money back after extensive time spent publicly confronting Airbnb on various social media channels, but the entire thing was disgraceful, and cemented the distrust I’ve always had for Airbnb (I mean, what with destroying rental markets, pricing locals out of their communities, and the racism far too prevalent on their platform). I will never book through them again.

Hoped to Go Back to Paris, Ended Up Out $400

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Like most folks, we were feeling lockdown blue in the late fall of 2020. Our family has traveled to Paris a few times over the years, so we thought we’d give it shot for a late March trip in the hope that the world would be a bit more open. We went big this year and planned a two-week trip and found a small apartment in Montmartre. A couple of airplane tickets and a great room booked, we felt a little light at the end of the lockdown tunnel.

Fast forward to this week. We had decided to start checking out things and making new arrangements, as needed, a month out. When I researched France’s current travel restrictions, it seemed obvious that we couldn’t go. With a bit of a sigh and consolation that we’d stay stateside, we proceeded to cancel our airline tickets (full value in an e-credit through Delta with no problems) and attempted to cancel our room.

I expected and would have been fine with a reasonable cost related to cancelling the room. No luck. Airbnb stated it was up to the host to refund the $400+ we had paid. The host denied the request and Airbnb (even after reaching out on Twitter) deferred to the original support contact.

Did Airbnb offer or suggest any other solution? No.

Did they agree to refund their fee (25% of the deposit)? No.

While many travel companies are working hard to care for people who are willing to travel, Airbnb imposes a policy that protects them and their hosts with no consideration for the travel restrictions. Perhaps the host will decide to show us some consideration and agree to some of his share being returned. Airbnb seems to be happy keeping their money and losing another customer after 10 trips since 2014.

Greedy Airbnb Host at Apartment in Hobart, Australia

February was proving to be a tough month in Perth. Effective from 6:00 PM Jan. 31 until 6:00 PM Feb. 5, the Perth metropolitan area, Peel and South West regions entered a lockdown. At the same time, out of control bush fires were raging in the Perth hills and 86 homes were lost.

I had booked a much needed holiday in Hobart for Feb. 4 and was going to catch the bus up to see my dear friend in Burnie, Tasmania, on the 11th. I had to cancel all my reservations for Airbnb accommodations and sightseeing tours, and every vendor returned my money with a full refund.

With only one community transmitted case of COVID initially reported, the lockdown was immediate. We have had an almost honeymoon period, without any community transmitted cases of COVID-19 in Western Australia for ten months due to fast and strict measures by our state government.

As a mental health professional, I had been feeling I was approaching burn out and was finding the large influx of domestic violence cases had recently deeply affected me. I was waiting for a break. It looked like with no new cases had been reported we would be returning to low risk status, or so I thought.

Knowing the importance of self care, I booked five days at an Airbnb in Hobart and was going to travel to see my friend in Burnie after that stay. When I checked the cancellation policy, which was not upfront when I booked, the link took me to a long legal written description of exemptions for COVID-19. As every other vendor had given a full refund I was lulled into a false sense of trust.

I wrote the host when I booked, briefly explaining my situation and saying I wasn’t sure if restrictions would be lifted in time to travel on the 11th. I would never have booked if I knew it was a no refund property. An honest person would have messaged back that this was a no refund property and let me change the booking. I cancelled the booking one day later, after it became clear that Wester Australia’s status as a high-risk state had not changed.

That’s when I found out the host would only return the cleaning fee of $25 and was keeping the $466. I feel so enraged by this, not just the loss of the money but the lack of compassion and greed behind it. How can the host justify keeping my money under these circumstances? What else could it be but greed?

I contacted Airbnb and their representative was very gracious but the decision is the host’s to make and he would not refund my money. I am a kind and compassionate person and enraged that people like the host get away with taking advantage of others. A belief in justice is naïve and I choose to be an open-hearted person. Writing this post was a helpful outlet to let go of feeling like a victim to the host’s greed.