Vacation Rental in Charleston Goes Wrong

We had a poor experience with an Airbnb in Charleston. In the midst of COVID-19 and the challenges of traveling at this time, we were disappointed that neither the host nor Airbnb would refund (nor give us a credit for) our $670 deposit.

My friend and I booked our trip to Savannah/Charleston back in October 2019. Our original dates of travel were for March and April 2020. With the onset of the pandemic and our optimistic belief that we would be able to travel again, in early March, we contacted our Airbnb hosts and changed our reservations to September. They both agreed and extended the reservations until September.

In June, we cancelled our Airbnb reservation for both Savannah and Charleston. We did this for several reasons: instances of COVID-19 and resulting deaths increasing in our country; restrictions put on place by our governor for travel to New York from South Carolina; nothing in the data indicating that the pandemic would be over (or a vaccine/cure would be ready) by September; and my personal health issues of diabetes and hypertension.

Advice from the CDC and my own physician indicated that individuals with these conditions are more vulnerable for serious health implications from COVID and should not travel. In good faith, we wanted to give our hosts plenty of notice and the opportunity to rebook if possible. Our Savannah host did refund our money except for $81.45 in fees which we appreciated. However, our host in Charleston refused to refund us our $670.

When we reached out to the Airbnb Resolution Department, the representative was not able to resolve this issue for us. He was professional and kind but simply quoted standard cancellation policy. At his request, we provided him my personal health information and a letter from my doctor. Bottom line, no refund.

We have written to Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky as well and are awaiting a reply (so far two certified letters have gotten lost). We find this unacceptable and unethical. Our Charleston host has $670 of our money for services we are not receiving due to the pandemic. Airbnb’s own extenuating circumstances policy was recently extended to the end of September.

In good faith, we gave plenty of notice of cancellation. We feel strongly that an exception should be allowed for this pandemic. Airbnb has stepped up to provide assistance to their hosts in this financially difficult time. We are shocked that they are not supporting their customers in the same fashion. Be aware if you are booking through Airbnb.

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