I know a lot of people are upset about full refunds being given to guests based on the EC clause but it's not just Airbnb and I do not think Airbnb "threw hosts under the bus" when they decided to allow penalty free cancellations and full refunds. Even without an EC clause, majority of business are making an exception and refunding.
And if Airbnb did throw hosts under the bus it was by not bothering to check dates or get appropriate documentation if/when necessary or checking if the refund amount is correct before issuing refunds. Like many things, the way Airbnb handled/processed refunds was sloppy and irresponsible.
Henry and I had vacation plans to go to Vietnam in April~May for 2 weeks (we booked everything in January~February) - we contacted the 3 hotels we had booked in early March to ask "what are our options?" because the Vietnam government has completely banned all no-visa entry till June and we had non-refundable bookings.
2 of the 3 hotels (which were small, family run boutique hotels (that are also on Airbnb, but we booked with them direct) replied the next day, that they will just take it upon themselves to cancel and refund our bookings, and they hoped we would choose to book with them once things calmed down and we re-schedule our trip, whenever than may be. The other hotel (large resort) said they were currently issuing full refunds for bookings up till end of April, so to please wait 2~3 weeks and contact them again. Similar situation with our non-refundable flights - we were asked to wait till end of March~early April for our refunds to be processed. We were informed all flights to/from S. Korea were in the process of being cancelled.
I have friends that had concert tickets or dinner cruise tickets which were of course non-refundable. They were all fully refunded since the government has been asking people to please cooperate with "no large gatherings" and to stay home and refrain from any nonessential activities/errands/local travel. Along with schools, all after-school sports and activities have been cancelled and fees have all been paid back to the parents. Henry has a friend who is a piano teacher and she stopped all lessons since January because her hubby is high-risk with a compromised immune system.
We also have a friend who works in event planning - you can guess what his work schedule is like for the remainder of this year. Same for a lot of my fellow interpreters who work freelance - no seminars or international meetings or conventions. And our friend who recently opened a new shop end of last year, just when business was starting to pick up.
Regarding any cancellations/refunds due to covid-19, the general approach from everyone in Korea has been, to refund as if the booking never even happened (unless certain expenses were already made and money was already spent).
So I know a lot of hosts are going to attack me for this, but imo, for bookings that haven't happened/started yet, I think issuing full refunds and allowing penalty-free cancellations is the right thing to do in light of the covid-19 pandemic. People should not be travelling. Period.
In Korea, we haven't had to implement city-wide shutdowns or curfews because people take "recommendations" seriously. Most people I know don't want things to get so bad that the government has no choice but to FORCE bans on us - which is why we choose to stay close to home except for a quick grocery run once or twice a week, and choose to spend Friday night at home, and cancel the weekend picnic we've been planning with a group of our friends.
Just because there aren't any *bans* or *restrictions* (in your area) doesn't mean you're safe and it's okay to travel. It's not.
@Huma0 Wow. I guess I should not be surprised to see that airbnb being unethical rates a 3/3 but still, incredible that you had guests who were happy to work with you and one situation where you could have gotten some reimbursement and they worked hard to ensure you got nothing.
We only have the flexible cancellation policy so only one of our cancellations would we have gotten any money because they cancelled 3 days before their trip, all the others would have been refunded under normal circumstances, so I'm not even complaining about airbnb's actions for myself. Losing at least 4-6 months of airbnb income will hurt though, I can't deny that.
Yes, I guess that is what I am most upset about. I am NOT saying the guests were the ones to blame. They had good intentions initially, especially the ones already staying. Then Airbnb steps in...
Bear in mind, none of these guests qualify for the current COVID-19 extenuating circumstances, but Airbnb reps actively encouraged them to try to get full refunds/gave them full refunds, without the guests asking for them.
Unfortunately, once temptation is put in people's way, for many it is too much to resist even if they started with good intentions.
There is a case No.4. Said guest said she accepted, given that she did not qualify for the current extenuating circumstances, that she would lose some money, because, again, she thought it was fair and didn't feel like I should shoulder the whole cost. She was really lovely about it and said she would cancel her booking yesterday.
Unfortunately, she has not. I say unfortunately because, although I would love to host her, it is clear that she is not coming. I fear that she has since spoken to Airbnb who have told her not to cancel until the last minute, eating away at her good intentions and putting doubts into her mind.
Maybe I am just being paranoid, but I would not put anything past Airbnb at this stage. They seem determined to take away any livelihood from hosts, at any expense, providing guests are kept A-OK happy.
That guest, I would loved to have offered an additional refund. In fact, I offered to refund all of them any nights that I could get rebooked. That's just what I do. In case No.4, the guest said she really appreciated it. I would have found some way to compensate her for the part of the payment she left if it was at all possible, but if Airbnb make it impossible, what am I supposed to do? Not pay my mortgage, nor my bills, nor my local taxes, nor my cleaner who needs that income?
I am not sure I will ever get over this treatment from Airbnb. I am certainly looking elsewhere...
@Huma0 Yes, it's one thing for Airbnb to have offered 100% refunds for a month on bookings made before March 14 with check-in of April 14 or earlier (whether one agrees with that decision or not), but they seem to be ramping up their penchant for coddling guests at hosts' expense. Lots of hosts are reporting getting those messages asking them to approve a guest cancellation, when guests can easily cancel on their own, and approving that cancellation request will penalize the host (which I'm sure a lot of hosts don't realize and are going to to get caught out on). Airbnb is advising guests to send these requests if they aren't eligible for a full refund-totally immoral and nasty behavior on the part of Airbnb. Then there's the bot-generated messages telling guests "Due to an incident in XX (fill in the name of your location) your reservation has been cancelled"- when there has been NO incident in XX. And then they are also refunding guests 100% even if the coronavirus EC doesn't cover their dates, and telling guests to wait to cancel, holding your calendar hostage.
They are massively adding insult to injury by carrying on like this.
Yes, you are right. I am not trying to fight any cancellations that fall under the new extenuating circumstances. I am trying to fight cancellations that don't fall under it, where the guest said they would pay something towards their cancellation.
Airbnb is currently employing a lot of tactics to refund guests outside of their own policies. I don't know about receiving requests to cancel on a guest (could they be sneaky enough only to send these to the less experienced hosts?) because I have never received one.
Airbnb is not consulting me at all about these full refunds, which all fall outside of their own policies. They have left me on "hold", even though I have reasoned with them calmly and never lost my cool with the reps. In fact, they tell me I am right, they are so sorry, they will sort it out, then do the opposite of what they say. I have not had any response from them for days for open cases.
From what I gather from guests, they on the other hand, are getting almost instant responses from Airbnb.
@Jessica-and-Henry0 I am sorry, I don't mean to hijack your thread, but what Airbnb is doing right now is not ethical. Maybe other corporations are doing the same, but I haven't heard yet of any deploying such underhand tactics.
I feel your situation is completely different.
Like I said in my OP, I think cancelling and refunding for bookings that haven't happened/started yet is the right approach. But absolutely NOT for cases like yours where Airbnb refunded for stays that already happened. And shame on those guests for taking advantage of your hospitality and this situation like that..... the audacity to refuse to pay for the nights they already stayed with you??? Total thieves.
Like I also said...... totally sloppy and irresponsible.
I really hope this mess is sorted and you get the payout you deserve for nights hosted.
@Jessica-and-Henry0 Full refunds for most cases was not the right approach, specially without the host's approval. One great example is refunding reservations that are months away. You have really changed your tune from earlier responses, now trying to appear compassionate to hosts...not buying it.
I acknowledge that in my OP I wasn't clear when I said for "booking that haven't started/begun yet" till when I thought it appropriated to apply the EC for covid-19.
Considering the stance of many government around the world I would think for bookings where the stay is anytime within the next 1~2 months, they should be cancelled and refunded under EC. Beyond that, everyone would have monitor/revisit what to do on a bi-weekly/monthly basis whether or not it needs to be extended.
In a different post someone asked about a guest wanting refunds for a Nov booking - and my response was it's too far out to know what the situation will be like, so as a host I would not think it appropriate to provide a fully refunded cancellation due to covid-19.
For now the cancellation would fall under a "change of heart" cancellation so the host would not obliged to issue a full refund under EC. Come Sept~Oct and if travel bans are still in place and the guest is requesting cancellation, by then it would probably fall under EC for a full refund. It's up to the guest to choose whether they want to wait it out or cancel now. And if the guest chooses to cancel now, they should not expect EC to be retroactively applied at a later time.
I have a guest literally harrassing me over this, so I declined his refund as he said it was because his friend's wedding getting post-poned (which it is NOT my business what the guest chooses to do during their stay). I will not sign off on any options without good reason.
In this last month we have lost about 2 months wages worth from my previous role, in confirmed bookings alone and though I am happy to support the fact that this truly falls under an externuating circumstance, it is still a lot of money and I have gone against my own policy and refunded or even shortened guests stay as to accommodate this, even when they do not qualify for it.
However, what I disliked was facing a situation whereby someone recently moved to London and was “sampling” where to live- he booked right on the 14.03 for 18 or so days, when London were already increasing their line of defence against this pandemic and had lived here for a month. In those 8 days he choose to keep his reservation, look and secure a private rental apartment and then “request to cancel by host” his reservation. I contacted him saying it was inappropriate as our intention was to fulfil this reservation but Airbnb actively cancelled this on my behalf and gave him a full refund. He was set to arrive the next day and I was informed of this about 23:20PM.
We are so incredibly lucky as we have collectively worked very hard as to not rely heavily on any particular source of income but not everyone has had this type of head start and honestly, the whole way it was handled was just poor from Airbnb. Selfish behaviour like this should not be rewarded much less encouraged.
Regardless- I think whether you agree with Airbnb or not, this is irrelevant... as for some it is still a very real problem so I suggest let’s agree to disagree and deal with the reality. For those who are affected, how can we help them? ideas, plans, anything... what would you do?
sending love to you and please stay safe.
That type of selfish behavior from bad guests and how Airbnb tends to handle cancellations (really badly and unfairly) have always been problematic for a lot of hosts. Even at the best of times, Airbnb was sloppy and irresponsible.
All I'm saying is that for bookings that haven't started yet, in light of covid-19 since people really should not be traveling, I think full refunds is the right approach.
Hosts should not be expecting people from other towns/regions to travel and come stay. Guests should not be leaving home to travel.
There were always vultures who knew how to *play* Airbnb and take advantage of hosts. Regardless of the situation we are in, that kind of deceitful behavior is always wrong.
@Jessica-and-Henry0 This guest has been working and living in London for around a month and for when he booked, in fact he was asked to work remotely.
He booked under bad faith, looked for a long term rental, moved and within the last hours before his arrival date sent the request to cancel by host vs just cancelling, despite informing him of how this could affect us both economically and at a reputation-related level and providing specific instructions on how to do it himself. We warned him about the situation and were very honest and nothing.
He was actively aware of the situation and quoted the policy as to have me cancel his stay! I said no and was willing to accept that his circumstance was valid as per the terms of the EC policy but insisted he cancel it as I was not up for doing all the leg work (even if I did not get penalised) when he abused the situation. My level of consideration is generally equal or more (only if considerate themselves) a reflection to whom I am dealing with at the time.
Clarification- he was in the region already, just a mile off and he would be having the whole place to himself (it’s a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment). We are continuously practicing social distancing and limiting our exposure to anyone outside our group. We are actively staying in as much as possible and actively encourage others to do the same. My best friend is a pharmacist and everyday she works 12/14 hour shifts to serve her community, putting herself at risk and then actively self quarantines from her family- continuously I send her notes of encouragement and praise and remind her that it will not be forever and better days are coming. Right now, all she wants is to give her mum a peck on the cheek and a hug, and she is a reason as to why I stay at home. Believe me when I say, I get it!
As I said above, whether people agree/disagree with Airbnb’s stance it’s a moot point but the reality is people are hurting from it. So... rather than patting egos and congratulating those for being ahead or better business minds, let’s talk about how we could help those who need it. This is what’s needed- ideas, kindness, understanding, innovation, social distancing, much more love and compassion.
Sorry- if this comes across as mean or as anything negative towards you but though I can’t control who you feel, I can explain that my intentions were not those. Please stay safe
Like I said...... I don't condone Airbnb's bad behavior and lack of respect for hosts. Guests booking under bad faith are nothing new either. For a long time here on the CC, I've voiced how I feel about Airbnb's condescending and rude emails, how ridiculously inconsistent they are and how they often break their own rules, and how they promote bad guest behavior. If I had any alternative platform to host from, I would have jumped ship ages ago. Seriously.
I merely think the decision to allow penalty-free cancellations for future bookings was the right thing to do because of covid-19.
I understand it's not all black and white and am utterly disgusted by HOW Airbnb has been handling a lot of the individual cases where the EC doesn't even apply. When I read about what @Huma0 is going through - refunding for days already stayed?!?!?! and then Airbnb and the guests all saying too bad and refusing to pay what's owed?!?!?! This is theft and I really hope these people pay up and are punished for stealing.
My sister's BFF is also a pharmacist (and married to one - they work in different pharmacies) with a 3yo to care for without any family living near by that can help. A colleague at work is married to a nurse who is currently working at a hospital that was designated for Cohort Isolation. I myself have not seen my own parents (who live 30 mins away) for the past 2 months. Believe me...... for those of you in Europe and the U.S., this is just the beginning.
I just honestly think...... for any future reservations scheduled for at least the next 3 months we need to accept the fact that no one is going to travel. No one should travel. Regardless of bans or restrictions. From here on out, it's going to be like those reservations never existed.
We should all just focus on social distancing and staying safe - we need to be prepared for the long haul.
In EU, most guests have annual travel insurance and / or travel insurance on their credit card. Why should Airbnb hosts help insurance companies in a crisis? Airbnb hosts do not have access to coverment "rescue packages". Airbnb must follow the crisis's "lead star" Homeaway:
«HOMEAWAY - How the coronavirus impacts your rental
In light of the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), HomeAway is monitoring the situation closely with the safety of you and travelers in mind. We understand that this brings uncertainty, and we’d like you to have the most up-to-date information.
If a traveler reaches out to cancel or delay travel, we ask that you offer a full (or expanded) credit for stay dates within the next year (at no additional cost) for travelers who can’t take trips now due to COVID-19. If the travelers are unwilling to accept a credit, we strongly encourage you to offer a full refund of their stay.
We expect you to provide at least a 50% refund on cancellations for all stays with a night that falls between March 13 and April 30, 2020, including trips that are outside the set cancellation policy. We will refund our Traveler Service Fee in full for all cancellations.
Before making any decisions regarding cancellations, we encourage you to review local authorities’ travel recommendations and restrictions. If you wish to cancel any upcoming reservations, please communicate with travelers as soon as possible. We will waive all cancellations related to this event so they do not affect your ranking metrics and you can focus on what is important. To get the cancellation waived, you will need to cancel and refund the reservation at least 50%. We will automatically waive the cancellation after you do so.
While it is reasonable for you to protect yourself and your property, please be as respectful as possible if you ask travelers questions about prior travels to areas currently impacted by the virus. If you cancel based on the country of origin of the traveler, we will remove your listing from our marketplace, consistent with the principles of our inclusion statement.
For the most up-to-date information, we highly recommend that you follow the World Health Organization. We recognize that many people are pulling together to protect the health and safety of travelers around the world. We thank you for supporting this collective effort. Now is a good time to check your safety features and ensure you have local hospitals listed for travelers. You can add this information in your property editor.
Customer Support is standing by to help you with your listing or upcoming reservations.
The HomeAway Team»
@Thomas977 Ok, that sounds reasonable to me. It is laying down some rules, I.e. refund at least 50% and do not discriminate based on nationality etc. But that’s fair. You can refund more (kind of makes you want to without forcing you to). I would be happy with this.
the important thing is how they are addressing their hosts though. They are not taking away all the control, sending out a communication that contradicts all their existing policies and then breaking their new policies too.
i would but into this, if they are actually following through with their promises and not lying through their teeth like Airbnb.
again, the thing I am really angry about is Airbnb putting out a new extenuating circumstances policy, which they show no commitment to abiding to themselves. Hosts must abide with it, but Airbnb will break their own rules. Right now, Airbnb is like the Wild West with no law and no order.
@Thomas977 @Huma0 The difference in tone and content between Homeaway and Airbnb is remarkable. Homeaway message doesn't include any extraneous, smarmy BS on community, feelings, blah, blah, they stick to business, as they should, treating the hosts as professional partners and giving them some control over the process.