Travel Airbnb host cancelled my nine-month-old booking at the last minute — here's what to know if it happens to you

06:51  14 april  2018
06:51  14 april  2018 Source:   ABC News

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What should have been our family's first holiday almost ended up in turmoil when our Airbnb host cancelled our accommodation — booked nine months prior — just days out from check in. Here ' s what I learnt in that last - minute scramble.

Posted in Guest Stories and tagged airbnb reservation cancellation, canceled airbnb reservation, last minute , san francisco. I’m reaching out to you because your host , xxxxxx for reservation xxxxxxxxx has canceled due to an accidental double booking .

Accommodation was booked and paid for weeks before our daughter, Piper, was born.© Provided by ABC News Accommodation was booked and paid for weeks before our daughter, Piper, was born.

The bags were packed, time off work was booked, and the dog sitter was all lined up.

This past Thursday, myself and my partner, Leea, along with our nine-month-old daughter, Piper, were just two days out from our first family holiday together — a two-night stay on the Gold Coast to see some Commonwealth Games events.

There was no last-minute rush. Everything had been lined up since early June 2017 when I bought the tickets and booked a cabin on a property just outside the Gold Coast through Airbnb.

And then a single message from Mark, my Airbnb host, unravelled a plan nine months in the making:

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They have had my 00 for nine months and this host has apparently done it before. Now, the only options are 00 and Airbnb offers a mere 0 cancellation fee. There should be penalties for these owners cancelling at the last minute .

Airbnb can override their own hosting Strict Cancellation Policy at will, effectively screwing hosts when guests decide to cancel at the last minute ! to technically keep up to 100% of the guests money for up to one month if they cancel last minute like this).

"Hi Pat, we are so sorry but our power poles have fallen and we have not had power back on the property yet so cannot host you. So very sorry indeed."

The reason for the cancellation is fair enough. I understand that these things happen.

But it still left me in a bit of a pickle just days out from our first family getaway.

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This forum is dedicated to connecting hosts with other hosts . Sign up to get the latest updates and news just for AirBnb hosts ! Strict is more for bookings made months /weeks out - I don’t want people cancelling those. People can still book last minute etc on strict.

I booked a confirmed house with a host in Cape Coral. It ' s a large group. Host has verifications etc. I'm concerned what would happen if he cancels last minute . I know a hotel typically this wouldn't happen with a confirmed reservation. How about Airbnb ?

I had a lot of questions running through my head as soon as I got Mark's message.

What happens now? Do I get my money back? Can I find new accommodation with such short notice?

Airbnb came to the party to some degree — we were offered an extra 10 per cent on what I'd paid originally to put towards a new booking.

I did end up finding a new place, an apartment in the heart of Surfers Paradise, but it cost me an extra $100 on top of what I'd originally spent plus the bonus credit.

That time from cancellation to rebooking was frustrating, and ended up costing me more than I'd budgeted for.

So here's what I learned, in the hopes that if you ever find yourself in a similar position you'll have some clue as to what comes next:

What happens when my host cancels my reservation?

You'll have two options:

  • Transfer your payment to a new Airbnb reservation; or
  • Get a full refund

If your reservation is more than four weeks away, your payment will be automatically refunded.

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Here is a little known Airbnb policy we got screwed by: hosts who cancel a previously booked reservation do face some sort of penalty or automatic bad review.

Booking even the cheapest hotel at the last minute is now going to cost us 2-3 times more than if we had just booked it weeks ago when we made this AirBnb reservation. I know it is of no help to you but Airbnb take host cancellations very seriously.

If you choose to book a new Airbnb then any money you'd originally paid is available to put towards a new reservation.

"Once you've found a new place, we'll automatically transfer your original payment to your new reservation request, along with any eligible credit from Airbnb," the Airbnb website said.

"If your new reservation costs less than your original reservation, we'll refund you the difference."

How much additional credit do I get if the hosts cancels?

It varies.

For me it was an extra 10 per cent of what I'd originally paid for my accommodation.

But I could only spend that money on another Airbnb accommodation.

"If you choose to rebook and the new place you book costs more, we may help by covering a portion of the difference," Airbnb says online.

So your options when it comes to rebooking are:

  • If your new reservation costs more than the original, your credit will be applied automatically on the checkout page. Airbnb doesn't provide credit if your new reservation costs less than the original.
  • When your reservation is cancelled and you choose to rebook, you'll receive an email with the exact amount of rebooking credit Airbnb will provide. The credit amount will vary based on reservation and might not cover the full difference in cost.
  • If your new reservation costs more than your original reservation plus the credit, you'll need to pay the difference.

My Airbnb host tells me they need to cancel, do I do it for them?

No! This was my first thought after I got my message, but I'm glad I didn't.

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At least with Airbnb you know you should arrange for check-in ahead of time. My last booking with AirBnb I had to cancel because one week before my rental the host had disappeared and didn’t answer e-mails.

I had booked a room many months in advance, and the host was responsive when I was booking . In the days immediately prior to the trip, I messaged my host I think AirBnB ’ s policy is very sketchy. Basically if they host does not respond you are stuck scrambling to find last minute accommodation.

It was hard to resist, I figured since he told me he had to cancel, I could do it myself and start looking for a new place immediately.

I'm glad I waited until he did it from his end.

There's a couple of reasons for this:

  • Host gets penalised: They'll lose out on some money, and won't be able to rebook for those dates that you were originally scheduled for
  • Refund: You are entitled to either a full refund, or can earn a credit towards rebooking, if the host cancels. Cancelling yourself may leave you out of pocket
  • It keeps Airbnb in the loop: If hosts make a habit of cancelling on guests at the last minute, they can eventually be suspended from the service

Even though I was told via message that my host had to cancel, I had no confirmation from Airbnb that it was actually done.

I ended up contacting Airbnb via Twitter to see if they could help out.

By Friday morning I had my confirmation that my reservation had been cancelled, and I would receive extra credit to put towards a new booking if I wanted it.

So don't cancel the booking yourself, wait until the host does it, or you could be missing out on some extra money to help you out.

How much are hosts penalised for cancelling so close to check in?

It depends how long they've been with Airbnb.

According to the website, the fee will be waived for the first cancellation within a six-month period.

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After that, the amount deducted will depend on when the reservation was accepted, and how soon before check-in they cancelled it.

  • More than seven days before check-in, Airbnb will deduct $50 from the host's next payout
  • Less than seven days before check-in, Airbnb will deduct $100 from the host's next payout

Hosts will also have to live with an automated review on their page should they cancel before the day of check-in.

That review cannot be removed, but hosts can leave a public message to clarify why that particular guest had their stay cancelled.

Should a host cancel three or more reservations within a year, their listing may be deactivated.

How big a problem is this?

Depends who you ask.

Airbnb did not respond to my questions about this, but there's no shortage of reviews online for the service, good and bad.

I did find others who were once in the same boat I found myself in this past week. Some of them had their accommodation abroad cancelled as soon as they got off the plane.

"Apartment booked in Paris cancelled less than 24 hours before we arrived, when we were on route from USA to Paris," AM Lennon wrote on online review website Trustpilot.

"Alternatives offered all 20 miles outside of Paris, the alternative offered within Paris was advertised on their site at $780 for 4 nights however they informed me that it would now cost $1,450."

In fact, hosts cancelling on guests is the number one complaint about Airbnb, according to international travel blogger Asher Fergusson.

Last year he studied more than 1,000 of the more serious complaints from guests.

"Host cancels stay" topped the complaints with 20.5 per cent.

What does Airbnb recommend when it comes to bookings?

The company's top tips are:

  • Get to know your host and the home in advance, including reading the house rules, amenities and cancellation policies. Message your host to clarify expectations before your stay
  • Read previous community reviews, which Airbnb says are "informed and real" because they can only be posted after the stay is complete
  • Always communicate and pay on the Airbnb platform, do not pay hosts in cash and immediately report any request to do so to Airbnb
  • If anything is not right, such as the property not being as advertised, contact Airbnb customer service immediately

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