From Free to Strict Cancellation Policy Before Stay

I live in London and I needed to book a house for my family in the same borough. My family was supposed to come here for my wedding. I found one house for them on Airbnb last October. I booked it accordingly with the cancellation policy, which reported a total refund if you cancel by 15 days before the check in date. This was perfect for me as I wouldn’t have booked a house with a strict cancellation policy in October for May given these strange times, the COVID issues related to many aspects of life and travels, as well as the age of my parents.

I even put this deadline in my agenda to remember it and not risk losing my deposit. Moreover, I remember a strange fact: I wrote to the host because when I was trying to pay to book it, the system was stuck. After a few minutes, it worked normally again. Unfortunately, my family cannot come in May as the situation with COVID is still risky and they are older people. In any case, I did not need to explain the reason to cancel the house as I was supposed to be on time to get back the whole deposit.

On March 2 when I was cancelling my reservation, I noticed a different cancellation policy in the house page on Airbnb. This ‘new’ policy said that you can have the whole deposit back only if you cancel 48 hours after the reservation. Or you could have 50% back by May 3.

I immediately wrote to both the host and the Airbnb Help Center. The host was upset, writing me back that she didn’t have my money that I had to ask Airbnb for it. The Airbnb Help Center asked for my money back from the host but she declined it. So, again, no money back for me.

Airbnb said that the booking confirmation email in my inbox reflected the correct policy. I noticed that it showed the ‘changed’ policy, not the one that caused me to book the house. It’s my fault for not having checked it properly when I received it but I was sure that it was alright. If I saw it, I would have cancelled immediately.

I also tried to get back at least 50% of my deposit, asking for it from the host. She declined, saying “I understand your frustration but it’s policy.”

Given the circumstances, this was gratuitously unfair. For this reason, I have been asking Airbnb to send me some evidence that shows what happened while I was booking, if it is possible that the host changed this policy while I was booking. My belief is based on what happened when I wanted to pay to book the house. The system was stuck for a few minutes. Is there anyone here that had this kind of experience?

Hosts Have a Big Say in Your Refund

In the middle of a global pandemic, this host was incredibly uncooperative, rude, arrogant, and kept reiterating that my refund was up to Airbnb. In addition to keeping in contact with the Superhost, I was also in touch with Airbnb. I got the runaround, until finally, I spoke with a decent human being.

I sent a link showing my state’s stay at home orders. I had to jump through many hoops and talk to a variety of people at Airbnb before anyone acted on it. To make matters worse, the Superhost was completely uncooperative.

Airbnb’s policy is unclear and dishonest as guests do not truly have an option for a refund during the COVID-19 crisis. You only get a refund if your host has updated their cancellation policy. It is ridiculous.

Keep in mind that the host does have a say. I am a host with a strict cancellation policy. When the guest cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis, I thought that was it. Several days later I had to approve his request for a refund. Why should I have had to approve it? Shouldn’t Airbnb automatically do it?

I don’t even get paid until the host is scheduled to check in. Airbnb is holding that money, and probably making money on it. Of course I approved his request, as in my eyes it would have been unethical to do anything else.

We are in the middle of a global crisis and nobody should be traveling, let alone haggling with unethical hosts and Airbnb. So, keep in mind that when a host tells you they don’t have anything to do with the cancellation policy, it is a lie. Hosts set their own cancellation policy, based on choices Airbnb provides.

All hosts were contacted and encouraged to alter their cancellation policies due to the pandemic. As some of you have experienced, many have not done it. I encourage you to write reviews naming your hosts and as much details about their rentals, as possible. This way, for those who dare to continue using Airbnb, potential guests can at least find out who was unethical during the pandemic — and avoid booking with them at any cost.

Airbnb Cancellations: All Corona, Hold the Virus

In the middle of February I booked a trip, before this pandemic was announced. I booked an Airbnb with a strict no-refund policy: “refund applicable except the first 30 days.” My booking was for 34 days total.

Fast forward to the pandemic announcement and the panic that ensued by mostly everyone. Personally, I did not want to deal with self-quarantines, airport security measures, and quite frankly the risk of putting myself in a situation that could be avoided by simply not traveling so I proceeded to cancel my flights with no issues. I have cancellation insurance on my credit cards, so it was easily done.

Now the Airbnb host who happened to be from the same country as me but whose listing was in another one — pretty standard I’d think — said he would not refund my money due to a global pandemic. I read that and understood his rule, but he told me to contact Airbnb because they have some extenuating circumstances policy. I read something about an epidemic and being sick but documentation is needed: a doctor’s note or obituary when a global pandemic is announced.

I contacted Airbnb support via their magical robot, which had me wait 24 hours for a person, and proceeded to cancel my reservation. I thought I would be entitled to a refund due to a global pandemic, which to me fell into the “epidemic” category. Wrong. They said they needed documents such as a doctor’s note saying I was unfit for travel, not because it is in the public’s best interest to avoid crowded airports and in my case a crowded destination, with lesser health care, to avoid spreading COVID-19.

This was on March 9th. I continued to message Airbnb back and forth for the next couple days, eventually losing contact altogether because my messages became colourful.

Fast forward to March 14th. Airbnb announced (probably after most people panicked and cancelled reservations with certain cancellation policies in place) that anyone with a booking made before March 14th is entitled to a full refund via “manage my trips.”

Because I cancelled on March 9th and not March 14th I did not have this option anymore as my booking had already disappeared. I am now currently waiting for the same magic robot to let me know if I am entitled to any sort of refund, or if Airbnb plans on keeping my money altogether — which by reading some of these stories, would not shock me one bit. I have been waiting now 8 hours with only 16 left to see if I will get any money back .

Tricks and Traps When Using Airbnb Platform

Strict cancellation terms: if you book two months before, but cancel one month before, you will be reimbursed only 50%, even in low season. This is the choice from a “host” who, since my cancellation, has earned three nights without having hosted anyone and maybe accepting other guests.

I kindly requested a partial reimbursement from the host, attaching medical certificates of treatment, but he did not deign to answer. If he had done so I would have immediately asked Airbnb to intervene, because there are only 14 days to make a complaint. The host certainly knew, was silent, and waited.

Airbnb tries to convince you to buy their service of “free cancellation within 48 hours” but this is effective from the time of payment, not 48 hours before staying (which would obviously be disadvantageous for hosts). It can be misinterpreted.

If you look hard you will find the number of guests who have used the house, and much more in evidence like the number of positive reviews. Subtract the positives from the total number of guests and you will have a more realistic idea of ​​the appreciation of the place. It is not transparent because negative comments are censored.

I had booked two weeks in two different houses, then canceled the second due to the need to use a vacation for medical treatment. With the remaining house, however, it did not go well: we arrived on a rainy day and there was a strong smell of dampness. The radiators were never turned on and there were no instructions, so time was lost to avoid getting cold at night.

Everything was clean except for the shower (of which there were no detailed photos in the listing) and some details in the kitchen. The indecent thing is that two days after the check-in the host told me that due to the risk of clogging the drain, I had to throw used toilet paper in the basket.

I left, he repaid me, but in any case he kept 40€ of “cleaning fees” over the two nights. In general it is better not to risk ruining your holiday. Choose a hotel directly or take a vacation in a tent or campground if you want to save money.

Host Changed House Rules, Airbnb Won’t Provide Refund

I booked my first Airbnb stay for my Mom and I for use during renovations of my home. My filters were “entire place” and “two bedrooms”. I contacted a listing that appeared not too far from my home and told the host that I would not be a vacationer but rather I lived in the neighborhood. The only house rules that were listed were “No Smoking, Parties, or Events”

I was cool with that so I booked and a confirmation was sent. When I had a chance to go through the confirmation email, I noticed another completely new set of house rules, including “no additional guests unless they were approved by the host” and also a $25/guest per night charge if I had more than two overnight guests.

I am a home-based massage therapist so I contacted the host to asked if it would be allowed for me to see my clients while I was there. She literally said no, that they lived upstairs and didn’t allow extra traffic in their home. I thought I was renting an entire place, not a part of someone else’s home. The listing initially said English Basement Apartment.

Being my first time, I just thought this was how Airbnb does things and sucked it up as a $2500 loss. Until my neighbor who uses Airbnb all the time told me that it is a violation for a host not to disclose all house rules in their listing.

I contacted Airbnb for a refund or some type of resolution, as the cancellation policy was the long-term strict type (literally no chance of a refund). As of now they are upholding the deceitful, dishonest listing of the host, saying the host has a right to limit the number of guests, which I never disputed. I just wish I would’ve been told in advance and I would’ve chosen a different listing. I will never use Airbnb again; it’s such a scam. Has anyone ever sued a host before?

Strict Cancellation Policy Costs me Hundreds

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I reserved a duplex in Las Vegas for a business trip. I used a corporate credit card to make the reservation and paid the full amount for one receipt (almost two months out from reservation). The host has a strict cancellation policy, but I was okay with that because I had no intentions of cancelling the trip (already paid for the conference I was attending). I read through the policy as best I could.

The next week I found out I violated the company travel policy and was told to cancel the reservation ASAP. I did. I got back half the total amount, minus service fee, since it was past 48 hours, but well within 14 days.

I contacted the host for mercy on the refund policy, since it was extenuating circumstances. Initially the host said I could either re-book another date, or she would refund two thirds of the price if the place was re-booked. I asked again for mercy that I could not afford to just leave $450 out there. My complaint was that if I had only paid the down payment, I would have only been out half of that amount (a quarter of the total). I was stupid enough to pay the full amount, not expecting any problems. I stated that I would pay the service fee plus another $100.

The host cut off all contact with me. I got a case worker involved and another case worker when the first was awful, then a manager of the case workers involved. Now I can’t even get the two-thirds refund that was stated in the host’s message, and Airbnb has told me they can mediate no longer with the host since she wishes to stop all communication. So I get screwed, while Airbnb and the host profit off of half of a six-day rental that I never took… and the place did re-book. What is Airbnb’s responsibility to the guest?

The last message said this: “We can no longer continue to assist you, as a final decision has been made on this case. I’m truly sorry for all that has happened, and I believe the host should be accountable, but we can no longer mediate anything from them as they are not willing to mediate with us any longer. We have a final decision already made by the last agent, so there would not be any further discussion about the refund.”

Apparently the host can decide when the case is shut, even more than a month before the reservation date. How is this even legal? Thankfully it wasn’t a super expensive place that would’ve cost me thousands instead of hundreds. Lesson learned: never pay the full amount up front and never rent from hosts with a strict cancellation policy.

I have a lakefront property that I was considering renting through Airbnb and wouldn’t ever do this to a renter. How do people sleep at night, knowing they essentially stole money from someone? I basically donated $450 to the host and Airbnb for a few email exchanges and phone calls. I should get a donation receipt.

Airbnb Strict Cancellation is not as Strict as it Seems

Airbnb gives you the opportunity of choosing a cancellation policy. I have chosen a strict cancellation policy which, per their terms, means a ‘full refund’. A woman booked my house many months ago at a heavily discounted price for this week. I received a message from Airbnb today stating that they cancelled her reservation today as she didn’t complete the payment. When I called (the email had zero explanations and was automatically generated) they stated that they would pay me only $800 (payment due was $2450) as she didn’t pay in full. Essentially, even if you have a strict policy and no privity of contract with the ultimate guests, Airbnb asks the hosts to carry the burden of their credit risk. Of course, customer service is anonymous and miserable and they refused to connect me to their legal team to explain to them why their cancellation policy is currently wrong and misleading.

Almost 8K Stolen by Host even with Months’ Notice

I attempted to rent a home in Mexico (PDC) but had to cancel due to unforeseen circumstances and expenses. The payment was nearly eight thousand dollars, so of course you’re going to pay half at that amount. We cancelled the reservation with three months to spare and I was told by two messages we would be getting a refund minus the “service fee” (which at the time was the outrage).

After a couple of weeks of no refund, I contacted the host and he said to contact Airbnb, which I then did. They told me that unfortunately due to the “strict policy” the only way to get a refund was to contact the host. I emailed the host several times on their site with no answer, then back to Airbnb I went.

They are still currently resting on the “policy” as if it were an unbreakable/bendable law with no exceptions. Even thought the host has already re-booked for over half the eight nights, was given three months’ notice and sent the message of “your refund is on it’s way”.

I have also been told by Airbnb that I should have contacted them sooner. After being told I was to wait on my refund and the host telling me it was not up to him. I am still at this very moment attempting to get some sort of refund but they are treating me like a terrorist, i.e. “we do not negotiate our policies” and you get nothing, not even an attempt to ask me if another date would work, take back the unearned service fee, swag, nothing… just go away while we keep almost eight thousand of your dollars for absolutely no services or goods rendered.

I beg anyone who may read this poorly written ramble to please do not allow this company/site/host to steal one dime of your hard earned money.

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Upcharged with an Unadvertised Per Guest Per Night Fee

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Our group of twelve booked a room on short notice, a weekend for $281 per night for an “entire chalet that sleeps 12“. Only after booking did the host advise us of a $50 per person per night fee and suddenly the cost was $700 per night.

I immediately emailed the host and told them that the fees were not specified on the listing and that we would need to cancel. The host was initially very responsive, typically within an hour, but after I told them my concerns they stopped responding.

I reached out to Airbnb with the issue and they stated to wait up to 24 hours to hear from the host. They then cancelled the reservation when the host didn’t respond and only refunded 25% of the cost because of their “strict cancellation policy”. I asked about their 48-hour cancellation guarantee and Airbnb stated that the host’s cancellation policies supersede their own. The hosts have refused to correspond and I’m out $2400 for nothing.

After Cancellation, Never Again Airbnb

I have had misleading and conflicting responses from Airbnb support since I cancelled a booking I made for an Airbnb listed property in South Hobart, Tasmania in late August this year.

The cancellation was made in early December, due to non availability of a stove for cooking; I only became aware of this just before I cancelled. This included amenities, pots and pans. Why would these be needed if there was no stove?

I should have checked more carefully before making the booking, but the inference I got from the pots and pans, led me to believe there was a stove, I believe this to be false or misleading advertising. We were supposed to be staying for ten nights and cannot afford to be eating out for every meal; we also prefer the option of home cooked meals occasionally.

This host has a strict (with grace) cancellation policy which means you only get 50% of the accommodation costs refunded if you cancel before 48 hours of booking and seven days before arrival. I paid $768 (AUD) as part payment, Airbnb has now concluded, after I escalated this matter through one of their “case managers”, that I will receive $177.81 refund, which is three nights’ accommodation (which they state was graciously agreed to by the host since he has now received a booking for three nights of the period I originally had booked).

My understanding of the strict cancellation policy is that I should be entitled to a 50% refund of the accommodation payment I made, of $592.65 + $175.40 Airbnb service fee. (Airbnb has refunded 30% of the accommodation fee ($177.81 (not $296.32 which is 50%) and they kindly retain the service fee.

I responded to the Airbnb “case manager’s” communication regarding the refund that they were arranging, as I did not agree with their conclusions. I asked for an explanation regarding the pots and pans inferences in the kitchen facilities as I thought this to be misleading, and asked for proper refund according to the cancellation policy.

Airbnb has now marked the case as closed and have not responded to my message. If anyone can offer some advice on pursuing this matter further with any regulatory authority or otherwise I would be most grateful as I have not been able to find anything suitable to date in Australia.