Airbnb Profiting from Pandemic Cancellations

Here is the summary of my issue with Airbnb. I put down a $2,777.40 deposit in December 2019 for a rental house in Eugene, Oregon. The rental was for June 21-29 so four of us had a place to stay to watch the U.S. Olympic Trials for track and field.

In March, with COVID-19 spreading, everything started getting cancelled. The Olympics in Japan were cancelled and shortly after so were the U.S. Olympic Trials. Once the trials were called off, I cancelled my reservation on March 17, 2020.

Normally, I would have lost my deposit because it was well past the two weeks since I made the reservation – the policy for this rental place. Airbnb posted a COVID policy: if you made a reservation before March 14 and your reservation was for a stay before the end of May 2020, then you would get a full refund.

I argued that my reservation for June was cancelled directly because of COVID and the arbitrary end of the period for eligibility in May made no sense. Airbnb still refused my claim. It’s not like the Olympics being cancelled was some secret.

On July 1, Airbnb changed their policy to extend eligibility for refunds for stays through August 2020, as long as the reservation was made before March 14, 2020. I thought now I could get that refund. But no – Airbnb claims that my eligibility for a refund depended on the policy that was posted when I cancelled my reservation. Nowhere on their site is such a policy posted, only the current policy that extends refunds for stays through August.

The latest twist is that the house owner was told by Airbnb that they were refunding $800 to her – she said she would forward that to me. Thus, Airbnb is keeping the remaining $1,977.40 – for what? A great way to make money off the pandemic. Oh, and they did refund me a whopping $20.40. Thanks Airbnb.


Host Cancelled My Stay with Bogus COVID Excuse

I booked an Airbnb in December 2019 for a stay July 16-31, 2020. A week before, the host cancelled my vacation. The email indicated it was because of COVID. I sent a message to the host and called the COVID reason out as she just had a renter leave a review from June 2020.

She then said they had a leak in the basement, and plumber was going next to look at it. If it was an emergency plumbing situation, she would have said so. When I booked in December the nightly rate was $259. After my cancellation notice this morning I logged on and noticed the two weeks were now available at a higher rate: $370 a night.

Shortly afterwards one week was no longer available and thereafter the second week was no longer available. I called the host out and she said it was her right to cancel any reservation and that she was no longer comfortable hosting as I messaged her during the day trying to get to the bottom of it.

I am left in a lurch with no other rental options at the last minute and vacation time off of work. I read the cancellation procedure for hosts. If they cancel a vacation three times in a year they have their listing suspended. She used COVID as a reason with Airbnb; therefore she will not receive an automatic cancellation review from Airbnb. Shady and unethical business conduct.


Host Declines Refund During COVID-19 Pandemic

Two other coworkers and I excitedly reserved a nice two-bedroom condo in Telluride, Colorado for a June wedding weekend. The hosts graciously accepted our deposit. They were so friendly and accommodating at first. They even promised that if travel was still discouraged in June (due to the worsening pandemic), then they’d happily void their own policy and offer us a 100% refund.

After the COVID-19 pandemic virtually shut down all of Colorado, the wedding was postponed. We promptly cancelled our reservation and kindly requested a refund, expecting the hosts to deliver on their promise. Wow, were we mistaken.

Unfortunately we cancelled right before Airbnb’s new refund policy came out, so we weren’t covered there. Even after we reminded our hosts of their personal promise, their kind demeanor rapidly changed, and they insisted on adhering to their original strict policy. They also claimed that unless we provided them with medical proof showing we were at-risk for complications due to COVID-19, they wouldn’t offer us anything. I’m pretty sure that kind of request is against HIPAA law and Airbnb policy.

They even had the guts to say that because Colorado was in a “safer at home” phase, travel was now encouraged, even though the government website explicitly discouraged nonessential travel, regardless of whether you’re “at-risk” or not. They also claimed that they’ve been losing tens of thousands of dollars in cancellations, so they can’t refund everyone or else they can’t pay their bills.

How is that possible if you’re not refunding anyone? Also, do we not have bills to pay either? Shameful.

Weeks later, Airbnb support responded and offered zero support whatsoever. It was an automated response. I’m sure if someone actually read the messages between the hosts and I, they would’ve seen that the hosts blatantly lied, and failed to deliver on their promise — which was in writing.

The best part is, we can’t even leave an honest review about the hosts since we didn’t actually stay at the property. Huge bummer, as prospective guests should really be aware of our awful experience dealing with them. We never would have booked this property had we known about the hosts beforehand. This pandemic has really brought the worst out of people.

We strongly, strongly urge anyone visiting Telluride, CO, to avoid booking any property with these hosts. If you do, mentally prepare yourself to throw all your money away if plans change. They’re “Superhosts” with great reviews, but how is that possible if things like this happen? Believe me, we learned the hard way.

Unless you stayed at a property, there’s no way to leave an honest review about the hosts. Evidence that Airbnb caters to the hosts and not the guests. I suspect we’re not the only ones that had to endure this experience.



Airbnb Promised 25% COVID-19 Relief That Requires Work

I received an email from Airbnb at the beginning of the pandemic explaining the 25% relief reimbursement I would receive for qualifying cancelled reservations This email stated: “You need to do nothing — this reimbursement will be automatic.”

To the contrary, I have had to bring each qualifying reservation to the attention of Airbnb and then be disappointed in the small amount they determine with their formula. Thankfully, I took screenshots of my reservations when the pandemic began, because now there are some reservations and cancellations I can no longer find in my Airbnb inbox or calendar.

Most upsetting is that one of my guests that cancelled due to COVID-19 and within Airbnb’s 25% reimbursement policy received what I was told was a “full refund,” but this was really a “store credit” with Airbnb to use it another time on any Airbnb listing.


Try This Method to Get Your Money Refunded

I’m having had a super hard time with Airbnb since COVID as a host. I had been using them as a primary partner but am now looking at other options. I get that the first couple weeks after COVID shutdowns would be difficult for them, but now it’s just an excuse to provide the worst service. There are too many nightmare stories from the hosting side to know where to begin. Reading stories from the guest side concerns me even more.

We work our butts off to provide guests with a stay that is superior to any hotel. We are Superhosts and have dozens of five-star reviews. But if Airbnb and some horrible hosts treat guests like this, Airbnb is not a sustainable organization and they will undoubtedly suffer consequences to their business very soon that will be very difficult — if not totally impossible — to ever come back from. It may be a great opportunity for someone to copy their business model, but with competent people, which they are clearly lacking as of now. They can forget about going public as they’d planned If they don’t get it together, and soon.

Guests: try to dispute any charges for unrefunded nights with your credit card company. I’m pretty sure that your credit card company will refund you while they investigate and take it up with Airbnb directly. At the very least, Airbnb will have to respond to the credit card company’s complaint or the credit card company will just pull the funds from Airbnb and they will be out. Either way, you win as Airbnb must resolve this or you’ll get your money back. I’d contest the charge with your credit card company even if the reservation was over a year ago. Many times if you booked with your credit card it has travel insurance that may extend refunds under some of these circumstances.


Services Not Available Due to COVID: False Advertising?

We booked a condo in Myrtle Beach that advertised the use of multiple pools, a hot tub, and lazy river on site. However, when we arrived we were met with locked up closed pools. A maintenance person said it was because they didn’t have insurance while the main desk person said it was due to COVID. All the properties up and down the beach had their pools open.

When we contacted the host they said that they didn’t know about that because they didn’t manage the pools and therefore weren’t responsible. But I know, from working in the property management and rental business, that owners and rental agents are always notified of any issues involving the property good or bad. The front desk person said all owners and their agents knew about the pools being closed.

I simply asked for a $200 refund on an $850 rental because it did not offer what it said and, had I known, I simply would have booked elsewhere. I filed a resolution complaint to the host with no resolve. Then I contacted Airbnb and they have yet to reply. Now every time I go to their resolution center and try to contact Airbnb I get no response. How disappointing. I won’t rent from them again.


Airbnb Refuses Refund Amidst COVID Measures

In February 2020, our family booked an Airbnb in Capetown, South Africa checking in on July 12 and checking out on July 19. The pandemic hit in March and we still held out hope that we would be able to take this dream trip in July. At the end of May, Delta cancelled our flights to Johannesburg.

At this point, it was obvious that we were not going to South Africa because we could not get there and the country has not opened its border. At this time, Airbnb’s policy would allow us to request a refund but 100% was only guaranteed for travel through June 30. You could cancel, get a portion back, then fill out an extenuating circumstances form and request the rest back.

I cancelled at the end of May because we could not get there and South Africa will not allow us to enter the country due to a pandemic which is an extenuating circumstance. At the time I cancelled, I reached out to my host who said he would review it and I have never gotten a response.

The Airbnb rep at the time told me they would probably extend the travel dates because of the pandemic. Well… the dates were extended to accommodate people checking in during July but then they said if you cancelled prior to June 1, you could not be considered in the extenuating circumstances policy. This is ridiculous. I cancelled as soon as Delta cancelled our flights.

At that time, I wanted the host to know we couldn’t come. Airbnb rep’s tell me they were “sorry” and “their hands are tied”. This is BS. They owe us $1,000. I only got a portion back from the host. Airbnb said they reached out to the host to no avail. Again, BS. Airbnb can let them know that they need to refund us or they will no longer be allowed to be a host.

A worldwide pandemic is an extenuating circumstance. I didn’t cancel this trip of a lifetime for the hell of it. I cancelled because we cannot get there and are not allowed in the country. I have emailed the CEO of Airbnb who publishes his email address so you can always get in touch with someone. We should get the rest of the “rent” and all the fees back from Airbnb and then they can fight with the host that is clearly not an ethical business person not refunding us our money.

Thank you for having this forum to express the stories.

50% Refund on an $1800 Airbnb Reservation

It was my first time using Airbnb, and will be my last. We booked an Airbnb in January to stay in New Orleans from June 3-7. Other people in our group decided they wanted something else and had double booked another location as well. We cancelled this one. It was my fault; I read the cancellation policy incorrectly. I was only issued 50% of my refund.

I tried to contact the host, buy I guess once they have your money and no reservation, they don’t feel it necessary to respond. Fast forward to all this COVID-19 stuff happening and Airbnb publishes something that says that if you booked your reservation within certain dates for travel dates that you can no longer travel, they will give you a refund.

I tried contacting the host again and disputing the charge with my credit card company at the same time. I finally got an answer two months later from the host that I am supposed to get my refund directly from Airbnb. I have called, and each time I get the recording that say a they’ll be with me in “a few hours.”

Considering the reservation was cancelled a week after it was booked and six months in advance, I don’t think this is right. Buyer beware and check their ridiculous cancellation policy. You’re better off in a hotel that allows free cancellations up to two days before your trip. My trip total was close to $1,700 and I’m out almost $800.


Airbnb Promised Partial Refund, Host Said No


My husband and I were heading to Bali to renew our vows. Exciting, right? The backstory is that my husband is terminal with an aggressive form of MS that now requires chemotherapy. We were planning a trip for just the two of us.

The host was aware of our restrictions and his handicap and illness. When COVID happened, we immediately reached out to our team of doctors and they agreed that it would be dangerous for my husband to travel. We got our documents together and sent them to the host as well as Airbnb.

They told us at the time that we would be entitled to a partial refund based on the host’s cancellation policy. It never came. We reached out again and heard back from the host stating that she was not in a position to refund any money. Let me state we cancelled in March and our trip was not until August.

Airbnb said that there was nothing they would do and the host said “sorry” and “I wish you well.” I can’t understand how a business can knowingly do this. It’s heartbreaking.

Heartless Host After Cancellation in Barcelona

We had a terrible experience with a property in Barcelona. Due to COVID, we had to cancel this property in which we were meant to stay until July. We cancelled early in April to give the host plenty of time to rebook it and despite giving plenty of time, they used the same cancellation policy as though we were not in the middle of a pandemic. Airbnb also refused to help cover the other part of the refund.

We were a group of young girls celebrating our good friend’s hen do and despite many conversations the host was heartless and unwilling to help us receive a full refund, which was important to us given the financial state of the world. I am appalled at the lack of consideration during such difficult times worldwide and do not think anyone should book this property.