Hospital Stay Prior to Hosting Questions Policy

I recently applied for a refund within 24 hours of booking. I spoke to the host to explain the situation but Airbnb refused to give me more than a 50% refund because I had visitors coming to my home for a week. The week before their arrival, I broke my ankle and was in a cast and wheelchair.

When I got home from the hospital I realised that in two days I was not going to be ready to host guests in my home so I took a lovely little apartment for them to stay in which I booked in the middle of the night. The next day, my guests decided that because I wasn’t well, they would not visit.

I applied for a refund to Airbnb with this story which of course I am prepared to present proof of hospitalization, documentation, etc. From a 700+ Euro booking cancelled the next day, they refused to refund me more than 300 Euros because it was not my guests who were staying in the apartment who had the accident. They were healthy enough so this did not apply.

I find this quite far removed from the community-based hospitality concept that started out with Airbnb. I wonder who gets that 400 Euro difference, Airbnb or the host? Someone needs to come up with a new Airbnb-like concept.

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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.

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Airbnb Hosts Have it All When it Comes to Refunds

I’m here to share a little of my bad experience. I’m going on vacation at the end of July, and decided to travel around Croatia from August 8-11. I rented this place on Airbnb; I booked the flight and got everything set. Everything was going okay until a few days later, when I realized that instead of booking the place for the August I mistakenly booked it for July.

I messaged my host as soon as I could telling him about the mistake around July 2nd. He replied that unfortunately he didn’t have any other place available for August so I should cancel my booking as soon as I can to get as much back as I could. He said he would try to contact Airbnb to see how he could refund me, since all the process is automated.

Since I booked the place one month earlier the refund policy was not applicable anymore and I got no refund, even though I canceled my booking. It turns out that I could never get my money back. I tried to contact Airbnb and they told me that unless my host wanted to, there’s nothing they could do. I asked if they don’t think that what he did was wrong and all they said was that they could not punish him because he never violated the rules.

I know that the policy states that cancellations made within a week before the booking date will not be refunded, but I think hosts take advantage of this misfortune to trick guests into cancelling bookings just so they can rent the place again. This kind of behavior is just unacceptable.

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Host Cancellation Policy Not Worth Paper it is Written On

Just a warning for you hosts out there. Airbnb can refund 100% of the rate you have agreed upon with guests, and will not even inform you about it. The first you will know is when you receive a statement saying they have taken the money from your bank account, or deducted it from a future booking (which is what happened to us). It does not matter if you have a strict cancellation policy; Airbnb’s terms and conditions allow them to override this and “steal” (there really is no other word for it) your money and give it back to the guests, and not even inform you about it.

We had a booking in August – our peak period, and so we spent time, money and effort preparing our property for these guests, including purchasing food for their stay, paying for staff (our villas are serviced), and arranging cleaning, only for the guests not to turn up at all. As people fly to Bali, such a late cancellation left us no chance of finding other guests to take their place. When we contacted the guests, we found out that their grandmother had unfortunately died, and so they had decided not to travel.

While we had sympathy for the guests, we assumed that they had travel insurance (as we recommend for all guests) and so would claim on that, and so we offered to provide whatever paperwork they needed to do so. This is our business and our only source of income, and so we have a strict cancellation policy, as losing an entire week of income would be a big blow to us. We thought because of our cancellation policy that we were protected by Airbnb.

If guests contact us we normally work something out, and have in the past. For example, we have let guests stay later in the year for free. However, instead of claiming this on their insurance, the guests just went directly to Airbnb, and the next thing we knew, 100% of the amount paid had been taken from us. No warning or discussion from Airbnb. No discussion or message from the guests. We had had no argument or difficulties with the guests, just minimal conversation as we assumed they were busy with the funeral arrangements.

We are left here with all the costs of setting up the villa for the guests and yet zero income, and no ability to get other guests to stay or to recoup the income we had expected. We complained to Airbnb and they told us that when using Airbnb, we have to follow a policy called Extenuating Circumstances. In Airbnb’s view, their policy is evenhanded as it allows hosts to cancel at the last minute, as can guests for reasons outside of their control. However, if a host cancels due to some unforeseen emergency, then the money is repaid to the guests, and if the guests cancel due to some unforeseen emergency, then the money is also repaid to the guests. The host loses out in both cases.

Guests can also insure against unforeseen emergencies, but there is no such insurance to cover hosts for last minute cancellations leading to a significant drop in forecast income. With no discussion, notice, message or anything we were given zero opportunity to challenge or question this. Airbnb did not even check if the guests had travel insurance, and could have claimed that; they just quietly took the money without telling us. Not only is this policy grossly unfair to hosts, it is totally unethical to implement it without any discussion at all, and tells you that trusting Airbnb as a company is a very dangerous thing to do. A massive warning to Airbnb hosts: you are not who Airbnb cares about.

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Legal Troubles with Airbnb: Is it Worth the Hassle?

We are currently going through an ordeal with Airbnb where a recent guest party resulted in us having to cancel one month’s worth of rentals. We would go into more details about what the guest did and how Airbnb handled it but at this moment sharing more information publicly may make us easily identifiable by Airbnb. They may terminate our account to destroy evidence of message histories and emails, etc. It may also bias a future potential legal case. We filed a claim with Airbnb for theft, damages, and lost booking revenue under the Airbnb Host Guarantee and were sure that they would take responsibility and help us. After many emails and phone calls and not being called back, experiencing the exact same horrific lack of support for hosts as has been described over and over here, eventually Airbnb agreed to compensate us for only some of the stolen and damaged items. They have also agreed to compensate us for our lost revenue from the bookings we had to cancel.

However, Airbnb consistently refuses to compensate us for our lost booking revenue (nearly 10000 GBP) from our cancelled bookings from competing sites such as Home Away, Owners Direct, Holiday Lettings and FlipKey. This despite the fact that we have provided Airbnb with documentation which validates that these are bonafide bookings that we had to cancel in the aftermath of the Airbnb guest party. We have also provided a police report number and other relevant documentation to Airbnb. They are referring to their vaguely formulated Host Guarantee Terms, i.e. this paragraph:

“Booking Income Loss is the loss of booking income from the booked portion of a Covered Accommodation (according to bona fide Airbnb confirmed bookings, contracts or agreements in force prior to the established time of loss) by you, as a Host, resulting from a Covered Loss. Booking Income Loss does not include non-continuing charges and expenses or any loss of booking income during any period in which the Covered Accommodation would not have been tenantable for any reason other than a Covered Loss. The Booking Income Loss will be measured by Airbnb’s insurer starting from the time of occurrence of the Covered Loss and ending when the Covered Accommodation can be made ready for habitation under the same or equivalent physical and operating conditions that existed prior to the damage.”

From this paragraph it is not clear that Airbnb will not cover lost revenue from competing booking sites and Airbnb is clearly just trying their best to escape paying us. So far we have not accepted their offer of compensation as it does not cover our losses from accepting a booking from this verified Airbnb guest. We are now considering our options and we understand from reading various articles on Airbnbhell.com that the only two options available to us are to get media coverage or engage a lawyer.

Can any host on this forum please share with us if they know of any successful cases where a host has brought legal action against Airbnb? Is it worth our time, effort and money to try to fight such a big organization that has the legal backing and resources to win legal battles against entire cities? Do you have any recommendations as to what type of lawyer would be suitable? Is this property law? Contract law? Dispute law? Do you have any recommendations for lawyers in the UK who have had experience successfully running host cases against Airbnb? Or is it better to let the national newspapers run a story about this? If so – would Airbnb be more likely to compensate our losses then? All we want is to get our losses covered so we can keep up our financial obligations for our property and get back on track with our rental. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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