Airbnb: stop withholding fees when guests cancel well in advance!

Airbnb: stop withholding fees when guests cancel well in advance!

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Stephanie Winn started this petition to Airbnb

Airbnb has various cancellation policies that hosts can choose from. When a host chooses a policy, they are choosing how far in advance a guest must cancel their reservation in order to receive a full refund. 

When a guest cancels within these guidelines, they expect a full refund. So for instance, if a host has a "moderate" cancelation policy, a guest must cancel 5 days in advance to receive a full refund. 

However, it has recently come to the attention of several disturbed guests and hosts alike that the term "full refund" is inaccurate. Even when a guest cancels with plenty of advance notice, Airbnb withholds both a service fee, and an additional amount that equates to half the costs of local city fees, costing unsuspecting guests who play by the rules exorbitant amounts of money for innocent, well-planned trip modifications.

(It should be noted that for each reservation, Airbnb charges a "service fee" to the guest AND one to the host, so they are capitalizing on both ends.)

So for instance, a guest recently tried to cancel a reservation two months in advance for an 11-day stay in a single room Airbnb in Portland, OR. Airbnb withheld a $32.88 service fee AND $48.44, which is, according to an Airbnb support specialist, "half the fees they must pay in Portland." We have no reason to believe any of this money is actually going to the city of Portland; why would the city itself charge for a stay that didn't happen? None of this is specified on Airbnb's cancellation policy page. This guest is losing over $80 for cancelling a reservation with 2 months advance notice. Another Airbnb user has reported they lost $30 over a similar issue at a different time. Apparently this is the policy and it is being applied to an unknown number of unsuspecting individuals.

This unfair and deceptive policy is harmful to guests and has the potential to turn away a lot of business. As more customers find out about this they will be less likely to use Airbnb, preferring instead to use hotels or vacation rental services with fairer and clearer policies. This is harmful to hosts as well, as the less likely people are to use Airbnb, the less income hosts are able to earn through their hard work.

Airbnb should change its cancellation policy to be fair and transparent. If the local city is actually retaining fees for canceled reservations, this information needs to be made available to guests and hosts, so that we can petition the city. If Airbnb is pocketing the money, that needs to change. The service fee should not be charged either. A guest should be able to anticipate that "full refund if canceled X days in advance" means exactly what it says.

 

 

 

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