I booked an Airbnb in Montana on July 10, 2020 for my son’s wedding for the following year on July 10, 2021. It’s a big home with four bedrooms, four beds and three baths, sleeps 10 plus room enough for two RVs in the driveway. After establishing right away that the RV spaces did not have electricity availability, I booked the reservation.
Almost a year went by, but when I contacted the host to see how big her driveway is because we have a huge 45-foot diesel pusher RV that we just needed to park there and not actually stay in while we were there, she freaked out and said the HOA had changed the rules since she did not have a dedicated RV pad; she no longer could have RVs in her driveway. I quickly looked up the ad she had running for future bookings, and she still advertised RV availability in two different places.
This was strange, but I messaged her back and said that it was okay, we could easily store our RV somewhere else but that I still needed the reservation because the wedding was three weeks away and I had family coming in to stay with me and there were no hotel rooms available. She said she was concerned that I would still bring my RV because she had no way of verifying that I would not bring it even though I assured her I had other options to store it elsewhere. I even proposed she contact someone in town to do a drive by to verify there was no RV there during our stay.
Well, she promptly told me she had already cancelled my reservation and that there was nothing I could do about it because she has the right to cancel for whatever reason if she feels her home would be in jeopardy. Now, my original price for her home was around $250 per night for five nights which came to roughly $2,000, which was affordable for me. When I looked for a replacement home, the three homes left were approximately $1,100 per night, $1,600 per night and $2,200 per night.
I quickly booked the home for $1,100 per night which made my cost go from $2,000 to almost $7,000 for five nights. But what was I supposed to do? It’s my son’s wedding and I was responsible for housing the people coming to the wedding. When I messaged Evelyn to say it was completely unfair to cancel my reservation, her response was, “You have an RV” and in another response she indicated that we could all fit in my RV and so she saw no reason for my panic.
Panicked didn’t even cover the half of it. She completely destroyed my savings. I did everything right and booked a year in advance so I wouldn’t have to worry about housing for the wedding, and now she has placed me in financial difficulties and extreme emotional distress. I did what everyone in this situation would do; I contacted Airbnb customer support.
I spoke with four or five different support people, each time telling my story and each time they gave me different answers. One even said it wasn’t the RV issue, that the host double booked the home for that time period and made approximately $100 per night more, which only came out to her making about $500 more; however, it cost me $5,000 more to have to book a more expensive home. Support said it was also their “policy” (that they couldn’t show me anywhere on their site) that a host can cancel up to 48 hours prior to your reservation for any reason.
Their reason is that within 48 hours it’s too hard to book another home, but prior to that you are responsible for booking your own replacement home, even if the host lied as she did in my case. She still advertises RV spaces in her driveway so I just have to assume she lied to me and just wanted an out to make more money on a new booking. To tell me that it’s all okay because we can all just cram into my RV for the wedding?
Support also told me that in order for them to help me, I had to go ahead and book the replacement home and then it would go on their books and they could see that replacement home in order to help me out. Once I booked the replacement home, the next support person said that I booked the replacement home when I should have let them handle it and there was nothing they could do for me because I already booked the replacement home. How confusing is that? I did exactly what they said to do only to have them say I did the wrong thing. This is their job and they are supposed to give me, their client, the right information on how to deal with these types of situations.
When I asked support to look over the whole messaging between the host and myself, I asked them what I did wrong and what they would have done differently if they were in my shoes. Each time the support person said I did everything right and that it was just an unfortunate situation. Yeah, a $5,000 unfortunate situation for me that put me into complete hell with panic attacks and migraines nightly right before my son’s wedding.
What exactly is the punishment for a host canceling the reservation with little time left to rebook on the guest’s part? I was told the host gets fined $100 and gets a bad mark on their file for two weeks. If they don’t abuse another guest then it comes off after that time. In my case, the host lied to me (or lied to Airbnb) and the support person told me that the bad mark had already been removed after a few days.
I am now pursuing arbitration against Airbnb and a small claims court action against the host. Any advice anyone can give me will be greatly appreciated. I am a single mom and stage three cancer survivor who is not going to let this go as I did nothing wrong.