Airbnb Treats you like a Slave with its Cancellation Fees

There are many reasons to be angry about Airbnb. This one has me extremely livid. When Airbnb selectively demands payment in the form of cancellation fees if you as a host cancel, this is simply another way to make money out of you. Why demand money as punishment if you have a legitimate reason to cancel, and the guest has had their money refunded anyway? After all, you are working for them, hosting for their profit. What’s worse, if you have a cancellation fee unpaid and have no hosting funds coming in, Airbnb will simply wait until you next host, so they can harvest that cancellation fee right out of your account in their payout summary. This just happened to me. It wasn’t obvious what the fee was from; I had to call and ask. Another little trick to treat hosts like unwitting slaves. Just think about this – as if they aren’t making enough profit from hosts’ labour already. This little tactic should have you angry, and I want to bring it to everyone’s attention.

Canceled my booking while I was on my way

I would not book with this host or Airbnb ever again. She canceled on us five hours before our planned check in. I reserved her apartment eight months in advance. She had even confirmed with me three days prior to the cancellation. I got the text message canceling our reservations on my way to the airport. I was baffled; I thought this must be a mistake.

I called her and she said there was “damage” to the apartment. Airbnb did credit my account and gave me a larger credit than the original price but other than that their customer service was a total fail. I called them three times and spoke to three different representatives; I was disconnected twice. The representative who finally did help me told me to open the app or the website and use the credit to find a replacement myself.

This would have been okay even 24 hours in advance but I was basically at the airport now for a 45-minute flight. The customer service representative asked me for the URL of the other apartments I was looking at. I was using the app; there are no URLs in the app. I told her the name of the listing and she put me on hold for 13 minutes. In the meanwhile, another friend of mine coming on the trip called and booked two rooms in a hotel.

The woman I got on the phone was trying to help me but it was clear that the customer service representatives are not trained in troubleshooting a cancellation on the day of. I was very lucky that we were able to get a place to stay on such short notice. It was high travel season for the city. Most of the accommodations on Airbnb that were available were too small or huge and expensive which the $80 bonus credit was not going to cover.

I really wanted to like Airbnb, but the experience made me appreciate commercial hotel chains. I do not plan on using the app again unless I have a backup place to stay. It’s been four days and I am still waiting for my refund. Even though this cancellation was the fault of Airbnb and they couldn’t adequately address the issue, I still have to wait up to 15 days for my refund.

Cautionary Tale: Reservation Alteration by Guests, for Hosts

Here is a little known Airbnb policy we got screwed by: hosts who cancel a previously booked reservation do face some sort of penalty or automatic bad review. For a complete host cancellation, there is a 10% credit from Airbnb for the guest to rebook with another host. However, hosts that only partially withdraw the reservation are not penalized, the guest does not get the 10% rebooking credit, and when the reservation alteration feature is initiated by the guest (due to the host’s circumstances) to receive a refund, the recalculation formula for reducing the number of days penalizes the guest, not the host. This process did allow me a refund, but several days later my credit card was fraudulently charged again for the amount of my refund.

Forget about getting any help from customer service; they just keep passing you off to another case manager for another go around. If you do get someone who knows how to correctly apply a refund, it takes up to 15 business days to get it. I finally went to my bank to submit a fraudulent charge report.

We learned a hard lesson. It was not possible to find another house with similar amenities in the same location with such short notice. My suggestion to others is before you book with any host, ask if the house is currently on the market, or undergoing renovation. Also, I suggest that you review carefully Airbnb’s “reservation alteration policy.” Unless the host cancels the entire reservation, the guest gets screwed. I was instructed by an Airbnb case manager to “alter” my confirmed reservation for the reduced number of days the host could accommodate us. Do not do this if the reason for alteration is due to the host’s circumstances, not the guest’s. Have the host cancel the reservation and start over, either with the same host or a new one.

Cancellation Confusion Nightmare Over Long-Term Stay

I booked an Airbnb and it stated there was a moderate cancellation policy: cancel five days prior to staying and get a full refund (minus service fees). I would never have booked it if it was strict as I was not sure if I could afford it or go as I may not have had a job lined up yet in this town. Anyway, the job and money did not work out so I cancelled the booking 11 days prior to arrival. The host said she had a strict cancellation policy and would not give me the money back. I took a screenshot of the moderate cancellation policy as it was stated on her page and she did not answer me. I called Airbnb and was on hold for an hour. It has now been four hours. I am on the phone and am trying to resolve this. The host is stating because I was staying for one month there is a strict cancellation policy; however, I did not know about this. I did not see it on the website nor did she tell me about it when we were talking through email. I was just looking at her Airbnb page and she sent me a message saying she had long-term stays but there was nothing about a strict cancellation policy. I am now talking with the bank to see if they can stop this charge from going through. I feel like I am in a nightmare.

Host Became Aggressive Asking for Personal Information

After booking a long stay costing over $2000, the host became quite aggressive and asked for pictures of me, my full name, and the address of where I lived. I find this completely inappropriate. Even if I knew the same about him, which I don’t, I still think this is inappropriate and invasive. Airbnb won’t respond to my concerns (can’t get through on phone, emails no good, and no place on the help forum for this type of concern) and I can’t cancel without losing half of the booking fee. I’m out of my mind as to what to do. Given the aggressive behavior I don’t want to stay with this host, but losing half the fee would be a big financial impact for me. I’m a bit afraid because the host already has my personal email address and some other details so I don’t want to post the listing.

Neither Host nor Guest Wants Cancellation Fees

I guess Airbnb did not design customer service with service in mind. I made a reservation for a month in Satellite Beach, Florida for winter 2019. Only by giving them my money could I then get the exact location of the condo and contact information for the host. Since I was already staying in Florida this winter I drove to the rental location the next day. It was not to my liking so I contacted the host, who was very nice, and cancelled the reservation on Airbnb.

The site told me to contact the host and have her cancel the reservation or I would lose over $3000. I asked the host to cancel my reservation. She told me that the site instructed her to have me cancel the reservation, otherwise they would charge her a cancellation fee. Neither of us wants to incur charges for a reservation that was only three days old for dates almost a year in the future. What an outrage. I sent a message to customer service, who promised to contact me within 24 hours. I plan to try the phone number you have published on this site to see if I have any better success.

Loyal Host Jaded: The Horror Stories are True

My family and I are staying in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day and my host just cancelled my reservation. We leave for Ireland in twelve days – do you really expect that I can find reasonable accommodations less than two weeks out? I had been researching neighborhoods and looking at places months in advance.

I am honestly trying to be understanding about this situation because I am an Airbnb host as well as a traveler. I do get that stuff comes up and I definitely know the risks that come with hosting. Airbnb needs to have an insurance policy in place so that you can put people in a decent hotel accommodations when something like this happens. I am so angry with Airbnb that I would have absolutely booked an overpriced hotel just so I have the guarantee that I have a place to stay.

Unfortunately, I am planning this trip for my family. It is their first time out of the country and they cannot afford thousands of dollars for a hotel simply for two nights in Dublin — I had to persuade them to go on this trip in the first place. I had no choice but to book another Airbnb, but I really believe it should be comped for their mistake.

They gave me 100 dollars for my trouble. We just spent $1138.68 for two beds for two nights. It is a much smaller place, a shitty layout and only has one bathroom. It is a farther walk from where we will be spending our time and does not have an in-unit washer and dryer (which was a request from my mother). I am so disappointed in Airbnb. I’ve heard horror stories before, but I guess you just don’t know how it feels until you experience it yourself.

Stranded With Young Children At Night In London

I booked a three-bedroom flat in Limehouse Basin on Airbnb about two months in advance of the stay. We were taking the three children to London as their Christmas present to visit Hamleys and do some sightseeing. We were in the taxi on our way to the flat when host suddenly cancelled the booking without warning, claiming the place had been ‘trashed’ by the previous guests. Amazingly this was only discovered at 4:00 in the afternoon. Airbnb did nothing whatsoever to help; they left me on hold for 15 minutes with a fast draining battery and wouldn’t answer messages or ring me back. You can imagine how we felt being stranded in central London, with three children under ten and the best Airbnb could do was offer an extra £30 and a link to the app. Be very very wary booking with Airbnb – their support and help has been non existent. I also discovered I couldn’t leave a review for the host (she has ten properties listed on Airbnb) to warn others.

No Help with Refund One Hour After Reservation

Earlier this evening I made a reservation on the Spanish Airbnb site for myself and five other friends to go to La Coruña in March. Having made the reservation, we were given the address (I cannot understand why this is not available before payment is made) and now according to my friends the apartment is not where it appeared to be from the photos uploaded. Therefore, it is too far away from where they wish to be. I have been asked to cancel.

When I try to cancel I am told that the amount I have paid (50%) will not be refunded as the payment policy is strict. I am stuck I have tried to cancel one hour after making the reservation and cannot possibly understand how I can be charged 50% now when the reservation is for mid-March and only one hour has gone by. The host says she is new to Airbnb and cannot as intervene “because she will be penalised.” As you can imagine I am not happy at all about this and have emailed Brian Chesky requesting him to please intervene and authorise a full refund as I cannot speak to anyone – every time I try the Help Centre telephone number it cuts out. As you can see I am not a happy bunny

No Penalties for Airbnb Hosts Increasing Rates

My mother is visiting me in Sydney from Canada this February. She booked her trip months ago after we told her of our news that my husband and I will be expecting our first child. She is visiting for close to three weeks and we wanted her to be comfortable and within walking distance from our place in Coogee.

Having lived in the eastern suburbs of Sydney for almost five years and a host on Airbnb myself I know how quickly places near the beach book out especially in summer, so I started my search in September as soon as she booked her flight. I was thrilled when I found her a two-bedroom apartment close to the beach within ten minutes walking distance from us. Not only that but the price was reasonable; it seemed perfect.

I contacted the host prior to sending through my booking request letting him know I was booking on behalf of my mother visiting from Canada and asking if I could go ahead with my booking request. As an Airbnb host myself, I always appreciate receiving a message from potential guests finding out a bit more about them and feel it is important to do the same as a guest. He replied right away, agreeing and advising that he was “flexible with check-in times so to let him know what time she arrived.”

This was great news, so I proceeded to book and pay for her accommodation. However, while my husband and I were overseas on holiday over Christmas I received a notification from Airbnb that I had been refunded my booking fee for my mom’s stay. I received no other communication from Airbnb or the host explaining why this had been cancelled. I contacted the host as soon as I found out, asking him why he had cancelled my booking and did not receive a reply. I still haven’t over a week later.

I soon discovered he had rebooked his apartment on Airbnb for double the original asking price he initially listed for my exact dates. I contacted Airbnb right away and was informed by a member of their customer service team that the reason for the cancellation was that I was in breach of their “third party booking” policy and that I should not have booked on behalf of my mother. My mother is 70, not particularly tech savvy, and has never booked with Airbnb before. Not to mention I would be staying with her some of the time, I was making the payment in AUD, and I had checked with the host.

I screenshotted my correspondence with the host to Airbnb and the customer service representative merely offered an apology that the host had not informed me he was “uncomfortable” booking on behalf of my mother. They did not address my concerns that he had subsequently relisted his apartment at double his original asking price for the same dates I had booked. I also asked the representative if the host had been in contact with Airbnb to which he replied: “No. I have yet to speak to him.”

The customer service member also sent me several links of new places to check out. Out of the four links he sent me, none were remotely in the location I wanted and were well over what I had paid originally. In one case, a rental was almost $1500 more. I did a quick search myself and there was less than 3% availability left for our dates in my area. To add insult to injury, on my Facebook, Instagram and Airbnb app the apartment I booked is advertised everywhere as a place to book. Seriously?

On the Airbnb website it states: “Because cancellations disrupt guests’ plans and impact confidence in the Airbnb community, the following penalties will be applied for host cancellations: unavailable/blocked calendar. Your calendar will stay blocked and you won’t be able to accept another reservation for the same dates of the cancelled reservation.”

However, when I asked customer service why this has not applied to the host involved in my case, this is the reply I got: “Hosts and guests do have the ability to cancel a reservation for whatever reason they choose on our platform and in this situation, he will not be penalized for wanting to cancel this reservation.”

The bottom line is Airbnb safe guards the host’s right to make more money should they decide they listed a property at a bad price. There is no booking protection for guests. None. You can pay for accommodation and think you’re secure but you’re not. Airbnb presumes to know why a host has cancelled a booking despite never having been in contact with them. Hosts don’t need to have a reason to cancel your reservation. I have advised Airbnb that I want to escalate this matter further, to which I haven’t received a reply.