Airbnb Can Cancel Whatever They Want at any Time

I had been renting out rooms using Airbnb for about three years and had very good ratings. Five months ago, an Airbnb guest left an external door unlocked and my house was robbed. In order to make it safer for me and my guests I installed an external security camera system which is very common at many accommodation places in Australia. I informed the Australian Government of an Airbnb guest overstaying their visa.

Airbnb responded with limited information notifying me they will lop $180 off my next guest. Shortly thereafter they cancelled my account. Beware, as most of the guests wanting accommodation have no ratings. The cancellation policy is meaningless as Airbnb can arbitrarily cancel a guest’s booking at any time and give you almost no information as to why they are cancelling it.

Based on what has happened, I doubt the bond system by Airbnb is worth anything. As a host, you and the Australian Government do not know who the guests staying in your house are. Airbnb doesn’t even know who the extra guests are. As Airbnb is getting more hosts, the room rates have dropped a lot so it is definitely not worth putting up with garbage like this.

Host Cancelled One Hour Before We Arrived

I just heard about this site and wish I had earlier so I could have posted this then. About three years ago, a friend and I booked a beachside condo in San Diego (approximately $400/night). We were driving in from about six hours away. One hour before we got to the condo (late at night), I received a phone call from the “agent” of the owner telling me that the unit was no longer available because the owner had let some friends use it instead. I asked the agent what we were supposed to do and was told to find something else.

Fed up with Airbnb’s “Extenuating Circumstances” Policy

I am quite fed up with Airbnb’s Extenuating Circumstances policy and their customer service agents’ performance. My guest wanted to cancel her reservation last weekend due to the Eurostar not operating. I contacted Airbnb customer service and offered to give a 50% refund to this guest.

Customer service just deducted my payment and gave a full refund to the guest, referring to their “Extenuating Circumstances” policy , which I think is totally unfair to hosts. I understand circumstances we can’t control, but my guest can make a claim and complaint to Eurostar for this incident. I tried to be fair to both sides and offered 50%.

In addition, my guest can get compensation from her travel insurance because this incident was caused by Eurostar, but I have to pay her a full refund? When she cancelled her reservation last weekend because of this incident, how could I find any guest to replace her? I have lost income for this last weekend as well.

I contacted a customer service agent who dealt with my case. All she could do was refer to Airbnb’s Extenuating Circumstances policy. As per their policies, they only protect the guests, not the hosts at all. Their customer service agents can only refer to the policies, but they fail to solve the problem based on the situation. I don’t think they deserve a booking fee from hosts and guests because they only provide poor service. Two thumbs down.

Airbnb Shut Their Doors on me at Night

When I went to La Antigua de Guatemala in Guatemala, I booked an Airbnb (which is a cheap hotel) here. I never heard from the host (it was an automatic acceptance) but I was new and didn’t realize that was a bad sign.

Initially, I was going to arrive the city in the afternoon, but due to my Aeromexico flight experiencing severe delays, I was there after 7:00 PM (quite late.). I took a taxi to the location of the Airbnb, and I knocked on the door. A man opened and I told him I booked the place for a few days, showing him my receipt. He simply said, “We’re closed for the holidays,” and shut the door.

It was in the evening, I was a foreigner in a country I’d never been, where I didn’t speak the language, with my luggage. I also couldn’t contact Airbnb at the time (not that it’d make a difference), since I didn’t have a SIM or anything, being my first few hours there and being so late already.

Luckily I kept walking around and found a place for the night. I used the wifi where I was finally able to go on the Airbnb app, only to find that even to get a refund for the costs paid, I had to wait for Airbnb to contact the host. They did refund me of course, but nothing additional.

Never a Full Refund for this Cologne Apartment


We arrived to this apartment on Monday afternoon, from the airport. We got video instructions from the host where we could find the keys and we could go in without any problems. I am presenting the situation with the uploaded photos.

The place looked like had not been inhabited for a long time. There was possibly puke on the wall, and dirt everywhere, not to mention the air inside. Unfortunately it around the time of IDS and we could not find another place, so we limited our stay to only sleeping.

We could not meet in person with the host until Wednesday morning, when we could finally found him at his workplace. We discussed that we did not intending to stay until Friday, instead we were leaving Thursday morning. Since the apartment was posted with a flexible cancellation policy, and we also we made clear that we were leaving the next morning, I modified the departure time on Airbnb, to avoid the fee for the last day (cancellation option was available, but with a 42 USD difference).

The host didn’t react to the modification request since that day. I have contacted Airbnb regarding the issue after we got home, and after a week the response was: “I noticed in relation to this, that you contacted Airbnb after the check out time for your reservation had passed, the Guest Refund Policy therefore would not apply to the reservation. I will need to negotiate with your host, in order to secure any partial refund. I will make you aware, that as the host already received the payout for this booking, any refund issued would be at the host’s discretion. However, I will do my very best to help!”

My conclusions regarding Airbnb: I had a choice to cancel the reservation on Wednesday with a refund of 200 USD, but I went for the date modification which offered 247 USD (apartment price + Airbnb fee + tax) when the host agreed. I know that this choice was my fault, but since I made it clear that we were leaving the apartment (and the request time is visible on the website), I feel it is very shady that the hosts’s behavior was not to react to the request. Furthermore, if the host already received the payment, there is only the option to ‘negotiate’ for whatever happens during our stay? If that is the case, everyone should avoid this filthy service.

Last Minute Cancellation Justified, but still Frustrating

We booked our Los Angeles Airbnb property several months ahead of time for a February 2019 stay. We had booked the entire place (three bedrooms) for a full week with a Superhost who had many five star ratings.

24 hours before we were scheduled to arrive, we received a notification that there was a minor roof leak and that we’d be offered a free night if we agreed to go ahead with our stay. The leak story was believable as Los Angeles had received over nine inches of rain the day before (that is a lot of rain). We agreed to go forward and went about our day.

Two hours later, we received a full cancellation. I actually believe the story and have empathy for the host. Fortunately, everything worked out for us as we found another property in a better location for less money.

Now, having said that, I am hugely frustrated by the process; Airbnb takes zero ownership. Sure they offer help and minuscule financial assistance, but in the grand scheme of things we were completely on our own trying to find a place to stay on 24 hours’ notice – talk about vacation stress.

My second issue is that the system is completely one sided. If a guest cancels at the last minute, for any reason, we have to pay a huge penalty. If the hosts cancels, they are held blameless. This is not an equitable situation and the absence of balance can and does lead to abuses of the system. Even though we had a good Airbnb experience in the end, I am not sure we will ever use them again… who needs the stress?

Airbnb Automated Cancellation Problem

I made a reservation through Airbnb for my upcoming spring break along with my friends and booked it at the start of January. The policy stated two divided payments, but when I checked back on March 11th, five days before the check-in date, it was stated that my reservation was automatically canceled.

I tried calling Airbnb and they said that the second part of my payment didn’t go through, so they tried to reach out to me through my email address. The problem here was that I’ve never received an email regarding this problem. So the first option they offered me was that they were going to contact the host of my reservation and talk with them to refund the first part of the transaction and make me re-reserve the place for the exact same date with same amount of money.

Since it was hard for me to find another place within five days and I didn’t want to lose out the money, I requested they contact the host. However, they came back to me saying that the host already was filled with another guest staying at his/her place so it was hard for the host to give me the refund.

I decided to talk with Airbnb about why their notification wasn’t delivered. They investigated the issue, but later came back to me saying that they sent out the notification. I double-checked all of my emails, but wasn’t able to find any single mail that was sent from Airbnb. I tried to ask them to compensate me for this issue because clearly, I did nothing wrong and I was the one who was going to lose out on approximately a thousand dollars without any clear reasons behind it.

It wasn’t my fault that Airbnb’s notification didn’t reach me, and so I asked them “wasn’t there another way to reach out to me to help make the second payment go through?” All they replied was that all they can offer me is a 100-dollar coupon for my next stay, and they just decided to close this case by themselves.

I was so outraged at their customer service and ended up losing 1000 dollars without doing anything wrong. Is this something normal that happens? Why isn’t Airbnb being responsible for the mistakes that they clearly made?

Unhappy About Airbnb’s Refund Policy

We reserved a place seven months ahead of time and our credit card were charged for half of the total cost. Five months before the original arrival date, we found that we no longer needed the accommodations due to an unexpected medical event, and proceeded to cancel.

To our dismay, we were charged with a service fee of $130. This seems to be exorbitant as there did not seem to be any significant service provided. It was indicated there would be a full refund if you cancelled and we assumed there would be a full refund for such an early cancellation (they will have no trouble whatsoever in getting a new renter).

Needless to say, we are unhappy with Airbnb and will think twice before using them again. The service fees are outrageous.

30 Minutes of an Overwhelming Fume Experience for $500

I found what looked like the perfect Airbnb. It was an automated check-in, but I still reached out to the owners. I didn’t get a response, which I chalked up to it being a business trip and auto check-in/auto accept. The reviews were on point and recent.

I got to the location easily enough and was suddenly overcome with a stench; it was like a toxic fume. My eyes began burning. I thought, “Maybe I just need to give it a few minutes.” In the interim, I speed tested the wifi and it was awesome. I thought “This place could really work.”

Meanwhile, my eyes were on fire and the smell didn’t seem to dissipate. I reached out to the owners and said essentially: “Great place. Thanks for sharing your home with me. The fumes are overwhelming. I’m opening the windows and doors.”

I was super polite in every interaction. There was no response from the owners. I reached out to Airbnb and got a canned reply. Then I was able to chat with a real person who basically said that I need to cancel if it was unbearable.

I reached out to the hosts and said something to the effect: “Thank you, I can’t bear it. I need to cancel”. Again, no response. I canceled… and then the host finally responded with “open the windows and doors” – it was winter time, mind you. Anyway, that was the fastest $500 dollars I ever lost.

Outrageous Bait & Switch: Airbnb No Help

Here is the letter I wrote to Airbnb feedback. I’m still in the process of working with a case manager, but I’m not very optimistic.

I’ve been working with someone in Airbnb Support, who has been spectacular. However, she encouraged me to share my feedback with the company, as I feel the policies of Airbnb are having unintended consequences. I’ll start by sharing my most recent experience, and close with a few suggestions based on my number interactions with my host and Airbnb support.

We have a group that goes to the Final Four (NCAA Basketball) every year. This year is special as it’s my father’s 60th birthday, so we wanted to make sure we had an upscale Airbnb close to US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

After communicating back and forth with the host about our intent to go to the Final Four, inquiring about how close the house was to the stadium, etc, we decided to book a listing on October 29, 2018 for April 6-9, 2019. We booked well in advance because we know it’s a busy weekend, and we have a large group of nine people to celebrate my father’s birthday. We paid a 50% deposit up front ($1,273 of the $2,547 total), and confirmed our reservation.

Fast forward to December 23rd, when I received an “alteration request” from our host. Our host stated: “We just sent you an alteration for your reservation; it being the final four week we had not updated our price, please let us know if this price works for your group”. The new price was $8,594, an additional $6,046.

As you can imagine, outrage struck me, as this is a classic bait and switch tactic by the host. More disappointing was how unethical and deceitful the host was being, as I clearly stated in my first note to the host before the reservation was confirmed “We are interested in staying for our annual Final Four Trip”.

I spoke with Airbnb support, and they suggested I decline the alteration request, and per Airbnb policies, the host would be required to honor the original reservation. I declined the request, on December 23rd, and the host replied to me on December 28th stating “Unfortunately we will not be able to host those dates, just wanna give you enough time so that you can find a different place, and you are still in the period for no fees on the cancellation!”

The audacity of this host to cancel my reservation because I didn’t want to pay 400% more, and to suggest I should cancel… Despite the host sending me that message, they still have not canceled my reservation as of January 2nd, 2019. As you can imagine, we are very worried that we will show up on April 6th and the house will be occupied or we won’t be able to get in, which would leave us scrambling.

I therefore spoke again with Airbnb support, and they said “don’t worry, you will get a full refund if the host cancels”. Let’s pause here. This is where my frustration with Airbnb policies is at an all time high, and I’d like to explain why:

1) We booked this reservation 2.5 months ago, and of course listing availability has gone down and prices have gone up since then.

2) A refund therefore will not cover any suitable replacement property.

3) Airbnb’s host policy is if they cancel there is a $100 fee and they cannot rent the property that weekend. That is a rather weak deterrent for a host cancelling in the scenario they realize they can rent the property out on a competitive platform (VRBO, Craigslist, etc), pay a small $100 fee, and then be back on the Airbnb platform with no penalty after those dates.

4) As a guest, I am now stuck with my money back, but no reservation, a lack of listings available, and more expensive options. I cannot imagine a scenario where a confirmed, paid hotel booking would be canceled with no replacement room at the same cost.

This is the second time this has happened to us on Airbnb: we book a reservation, the host finds out it’s a more popular weekend than anticipated, they cancel, pay a fee, rent it for higher, and we as guests are stuck high and dry.

Short term solution: We fully expect Airbnb to cover the cost of a comparable listing if it costs more than our initial reservation, which it will. We need to be less than two miles from the stadium, which our existing reservation was, and it needs to be at least six bedrooms and four baths.

Long term solution: Airbnb needs to fix the incentives/punishments in the policy and guidelines, as it is driving bad behavior. In this scenario, the host can rent out for three times that on VRBO, pay a $100 fee to Airbnb, and then have access to Airbnb as soon as the dates we originally reserved have passed. There is a near-zero deterrent for the host to act disingenuously.

On top of that, guests are left with a refund, but no place to stay. It’s very stressful and time consuming to have to search for a new place and correspond with Airbnb support. I’ve spent two hours on the phone with Airbnb support throughout this process and another three hours researching and messaging Airbnb through the platform.

I’m having second thoughts on Airbnb because of this experience, and I can only imagine how many other guests are experiencing this. Please fix your policies so guests aren’t left high and dry in the future. I’d be happy to chat further if anyone is interested in speaking to me.