Refund discussion - no venting

in
Denver, CO
Level 4
15,751 Views

Hello community!

 

Many of us are feeling the burden of Airbnbs extenuating circumstances policy and at this time, there is not much more any of us can add to the conversation. So let's use this community to help us come together and share ideas. Let's keep the anger and disdain on the other conversation feeds, please.

 

I am starting to receive requests for full refunds for stays outside of the COVID window, and I am wrestling with how to handle these requests. I want to give everything back to everyone knowing that we can help lessen the spread but that is not possible. I have mortgages and bills to pay as well.

 

I would love to hear what others have been doing/saying to help maintain their business, help stop the spread AND be empathetic to the guest's situation.

 

Here are my thoughts and I would love to hear your constructive feedback:

1. Ask the guest if they purchased travel insurance;

2. Ask them to review my calendar and find dates further in the future they would like to change to (I worry they will realize if they move dates far enough, that they can cancel with a much lower penalty);

3. Maybe offer a 50/50 refund if they don't want to find other dates?

 

My understanding is that the airlines are NOT giving full refunds, but allowing guests to change their dates at no cost. I feel that as the travel industry, we should all be following a similar process for consistency. 

In reality, the Airlines and AIRBNB are the ones that will receive a bailout NOT us, so I feel like this would be a fair option to us little guys.

 

Lets please keep this constructive and helpful so we can get through this. 

Thank you all!

185 Replies

Re: Refund discussion - no venting

in
New Jersey, United States
Level 5

Good idea! I know guests (told me not coming), who are just sitting there with my calendar blocked waiting for Airbnb to change the covid

 window to include their dates. 

Re: Refund discussion - no venting

in
Bristol, United Kingdom
Level 10

I would go back to the guest and if they won't cancel ask Airbnb to do it @Sharon480

Re: Refund discussion - no venting

in
Brandon, FL
Level 1

I’m one of those guests. I completely get it, but my tickets were cancelled in NYC and I am 10 days outside of the current window. I contacted my host a few times and stayed with him before. He has a strict cancellation policy, if I cancel now I get nothing back, I can’t afford to lose $400 especially when I’ve also been out of work for 8 weeks. 

Re: Refund discussion - no venting

in
Barrie, Canada
Level 2

I just posted about this exact same thing.  My flight (and in fact the entire route I was flying on) was cancelled for the remainder of the summer (even though my airline is resuming operations on July 23 - just not for my route).  Host refused any kind of refund and I could not escalate to Airbnb until I cancelled.   I (should not have) assumed that if I wasn't covered under the covid policy I should be covered under the regular extenuating circumstance policy - otherwise we are covered under no policy at all?  Airbnb is forcing me to hold on to rooms that I know I will be unable to use, to the detriment of those hosts that may be able to rebook these stays.  Everyone suffers 😞

Re: Refund discussion - no venting

in
Albany, Australia
Level 10

@Brandon-And-Robert0, first, thank you for your balanced and measured post. I understand that many hosts are upset and looking for someone to blame for their loss of income, but like everyone, Airbnb is grappling with a very difficult situation and trying to find the best and fairest solution. Asking guests about travel insurance is a good idea, but I know that travel insurance doesn't usually cover pandemics. I think giving guests credit for their booking might be the way to go rather than refunding completely.  This is what airlines are doing. Currently, however, there is no actual way of doing this on the platform. This is where Airbnb could step in. In this case, the host still gets paid, and the guest can rebook down the track. Of course, the guest might not be able to book with the same host, so it would be great if there was some way of setting it up so they could use their credit anywhere. I'm just thinking out loud here and it's too early in the morning for my brain to think this through properly, but maybe someone can pick up on this idea... 

Re: Refund discussion - no venting

in
Denver, CO
Level 4

Thank you for your response! That is exactly what I was thinking. I just wish that existed right now. 
Let’s keep the positive energy and focus on what we can impact right now, falling into this trap of what’s happening isn’t going to solve anything. 
I hope you have a great morning Kath 🙂

Re: Refund discussion - no venting

in
Albany, Australia
Level 10

@Brandon-And-Robert0you too! I am trying to stay positive in what is a difficult situation for everybody. People are looking for somebody to be the fall guy, but I just can't blame Airbnb for refunding guests. Imagine being a guest and having to cancel your travel plans! The only thing we can really blame is the wild animal market in China. This thing is affecting everybody, everywhere, in so many different ways. How about artists? And restaurant and bar owners? Casual workers and contractors in general?

 

I think Airbnb looking after its customers (i.e. guests) can only be a good thing for us hosts in the long term. It would be great to try to find some way of looking after both guests and hosts, but at the end of the day, we aren't employees, we work in the gig economy, which does not have the same kind of job security. We have to be adaptable and roll with what is happening. I bet most of the hosts screaming about class actions etc. are those with multiple listings who've put all their eggs in the Airbnb basket and created a housing shortage while they're at it.

 

By the way, I have Banksy's Life is Beautiful picture on my wall too! Also, I like your COVID-19 update on your listing - it's more or less what I'm telling my guests when they arrive, but I might write something on my listing too. Take care and stay safe 🙂

Re: Refund discussion - no venting

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@Kath9 I always appreciate you view and enjoy your comments. I’ve noticed you posted on the subject on a couple of threads and I wanted to respond – mainly because I respect your opinion. There is a difference between giving refunds now, when for example in Chicago restaurants are closed and city is pretty much in a lockdown and giving refunds a week ago, when all St. Patrick’s Day activities were going full force and people were not coming out of fear. Back than most of us did not appreciate how serious the situation was. While in retrospect it may have been a good idea, Airbnb did not do it because they had a crystal ball. They did it because it was not their money to give away but their oat on the shoulder and publicity to receive. Anyone cancelling today’s stay falls under extenuating circumstances. Should that policy even exist is a whole other subject. Wiping my calendar clean last week- can’t agree with that.

Re: Refund discussion - no venting

in
Albany, Australia
Level 10

@Inna22, thank you - I always enjoy and respect your opinions too! I get it, I do. I get that people are upset about losing money. I'm upset and worried about losing money. I also feel for everybody else on the planet who is also losing their livelihoods and worried about how they will make their rent or mortgage payments. I really think this thing will send us into another GFC much much worse than what we saw in the 90s.

 

I honestly don't know what the fairest and best answer is and I think Airbnb is trying to do the right thing by guests, which I hope in the long run will be beneficial for hosts. Cancellations are painful, but they are actually only a temporary problem. The much bigger problem is that soon there won't be any bookings at all, so we need to rethink how to use our spaces in the meantime (e.g. for long-term bookings or isolation units). There are some good ideas that have been floated here (e.g. optional insurance, giving credit to guests) that perhaps Airbnb should look at down the track in case something like this happens again (which it will if you believe what the epidemiologists and public health experts are saying). It's a really difficult and unprecedented situation, but I don't see how shouting at and suing Airbnb is going to help. Airbnb is losing money too, so let's hope it doesn't go down altogether!

Re: Refund discussion - no venting

in
Barrie, Canada
Level 2

I just posted about this.  It is NOT true that anyone cancelling today's stay falls under extenuating circumstances.  I just posted about this exact same thing.  My flight (and in fact the entire route I was flying on) was cancelled for the remainder of the summer (even though my airline is resuming operations on July 23 - just not for my route).  Host refused any kind of refund and I could not escalate to Airbnb until I cancelled.   I (should not have) assumed that if I wasn't covered under the covid policy I should be covered under the regular extenuating circumstance policy.  They say no - my flight cancellation in August was because of COVID but its outside of their covid policies (even though they are flying to other destinations) yet I am not covered under the regular extenuating circumstances policy because the cancellation was caused by COVID.  They will also NOT revisit this if their policy is extended.  Apparently  we are covered under no policy at all with respect to flight cancellations?  Airbnb would prefer that I hold on to rooms that I know I will be unable to use, to the detriment of those hosts that may be able to rebook these stays.  Everyone suffers

Re: Refund discussion - no venting

in
San Antonio, TX
Level 10

@Kath9  I don't understand your attitude towards hosts who want to be treated fairly. You have posted the same similar sentiments in other places and you truly don't understand the issue if you think hosts are just looking for a fall guy. And of course you can blame Airbnb, they did the refunding!

Re: Refund discussion - no venting

in
Albany, Australia
Level 10

@Juan63, I stand by what I've said. I understand that many hosts are hurting financially (as I am) and I feel for them, I really do. However, even before the special COVID-19 extenuating circumstances, Airbnb allowed guests to get a full refund under the following extenuating circumstances (directly copied and pasted from the website), which we all signed up to. If COVID-19 doesn't fall under these, I don't know what does:

 

Epidemic disease or illness that suddenly affects a region or an entire group of people. This doesn’t include existing diseases that are associated with an area—for example, malaria in Thailand or dengue fever in Hawaii. Any updates to our policy regarding the outbreak of a disease, and the scope of policy application, will be determined based on announcements by the World Health Organization and local authorities.

 

Travel restrictions imposed by a government, law enforcement agency, or military that restrict travel to or from the listing or experience location.

 

If your reservation falls under a recognised extenuating circumstance, you’ll be notified that your reservation qualifies for a penalty-free cancellation, and you’ll get a full refund if you’re a guest.

 

And speaking of treating hosts fairly, what about treating guests fairly? I would be pretty upset if I had booked accommodation and was not refunded because I could no longer travel due to circumstances completely out of my control. I directly messaged my last remaining guests, asking them to cancel and telling them they will get a full refund.

 

This virus is affecting everyone on the planet and there is absolutely nothing 'fair' about it. I just don't believe that Airbnb hosts are in some kind of special category. We will all survive the year (if the virus doesn't get us, the risk of which will be dramatically reduced by not having Airbnb guests) and come out stronger. Looking after our guests now will ensure their loyalty once this is over. Try to imagine the ire of millions of guests not being refunded.

Re: Refund discussion - no venting

in
San Antonio, TX
Level 10

@Kath9  Show me the part that says guests will receive a 100% refund.  It's not there, so you can't. Treating hosts or guests fairly is not a 100% refund/payment for either party. 

Re: Refund discussion - no venting

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Juan63  EC policy has always resulted in a 100% refund. Like if a guest wants to cancel because they are ill and can produce documentation of that, whatever falls under their EC was always refunded 100%. That's exactly why guests have used that policy in the past. And hosts have also cancelled under that policy, in order not to receive penalties,  if they are ill or have some plumbing disaster that prevents them from hosting.

I agree with Kath- why should Airbnb hosts be any more special than all the other people, in many walks of life, who have no work and no income now because of the virus lockdowns?

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