This was my first and last time using Airbnb. I live in Nagoya, Japan and wanted my parents to visit me this summer, from April 17th to May 17th. I booked an apartment for four people in Nagoya for more than $3000. I booked early in January thinking that the summer time would be the peak season of travel here in Japan owing to the Golden Week holidays.
Then last week the coronavirus struck the whole world and within days the situation in Japan also got worse. As a result of discussions with my family we decided to cancel the trip and the reservation two months prior to the actual check-in date.
Airbnb lists “epidemic disease or illness that suddenly affects a region or an entire group of people” as an extenuating circumstance and we are eligible for refund. Hence, we cancelled the reservation and surprisingly I only got $70 as a refund when I paid more than $3000 to book this place.
We decided to file a refund claim under extenuating cancellation policy. I called Airbnb customer care and was initially disconnected two times when I told my story and asked for a refund (I know the names of the representatives who disconnected me as well).
Finally the third time I got in touch with an Airbnb representative who was hellbent on proof of the coronavirus spread in Japan even though the whole world is aware of the situation in Asia. Hence we submitted links to the various government websites, travel advisories, and my parents’ travel itinerary to prove that they were traveling form India.
Still Airbnb asked for more proof, saying there was no ban in Japan. The epidemic is spreading and it’s in the news. This is apparent to the whole world but Airbnb will not consider it unless someone really dies or gets infected. They want to exploit people out of their hard-earned money even at the time of an epidemic.
Even after paying more than $3000 I got a joke of $70 back, which is completely unacceptable and unfair, whether there is an epidemic or not. This depicts a perfect picture of exploitation by Airbnb and their poor host cancellation policies which are screwing with people’s mental health and robbing them of their money.
The host says that he doesn’t know how the refund came down to $70, while Airbnb says they cannot override the host cancellation policy. Who knows which side is telling the truth.
I initially thought that they would settle this on humanitarian grounds considering the coronavirus situation in the world right now but they want more proof. What more proof do they want, when the epidemic has already spread to all parts of the world? There is no regard or respect for human life.
I work hard for my money and the fact that I am being exploited for money in the wake of an epidemic and constantly asked for proof of it as though I am making up the situation is causing me so much stress and sleepless nights. I reluctantly used Airbnb for the first time knowing that as a first time user and reading other guest experiences, I might run into some trouble and, as expected, had the worst experience.
I will not be using Airbnb again. When they do not have any morals or values even in the time of a crisis or an epidemic, no one can expect them to resolve your issues when the times are less tense.