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.
I looked into the possibility of listing thru Homeaway a while back but they don't include home shares.
The tone and context of Airbnb messages/emails/communications to hosts have always been condescending and full of BS. And the way things were handled...... like I said...... sloppy and irresponsible.
I have a future guest who is going to cancel her long-term booking for this Summer. Her booking does not currently fall under the COVID-19 extenuating policy dates. She understands this and thinks it's fair that she pays under the normal long-term cancellation policy. I have offered to refund her if I manage to get the nights rebooked, e.g. by locals rather than travellers. She was grateful for this. She has been very gracious and I certainly intend to refund her more if I can.
However, now she has gone to cancel, the system is asking her to specify why and gives an option for COVID-19, which she clicked on. It then told her to request full reimbursement. I have no idea what happens if she clicks that. Do I get asked if I want to refund her in full, or will Airbnb simply decide to do it.
She didn't send me a screenshot, because it was in Dutch, but translated it thus:
"The options I get are:
- I don't want to travel because of Covid-19
- I don't need any housing anymore
- I made my reservation by accident
- My renter has to cancel (think she means host)
- I don't feel comfortable with my renter (think she means host)
- I changed the dates
The covid-19 one puts this message:
We understand that many of our guests may not be able or willing to travel due to the corona virus.
Because the wellbeing of our community is a top priority, you can ask your host to cancel your reservation and give a full refund."
She does not want me to be penalised in any way, so I have agreed to call Airbnb to find out what to do. However, it's not just the long wait times I'm scared about. Airbnb have messed with every cancellation so far, broken their own policies, encouraged the guests to push for full refunds or simply issued them even when the guest said they wanted to pay me and, in two cases, turned friendly guests against me.
OMG this is terrible, something similar happened to me, my guest canceled his reservation at the end of May, he told me that the wedding I would attend is going to change dates, so I mentioned that I could change the date at no cost or cancel under my policy (which is strict) told me that I would better wait to change the date, but I do not know at that time I decided to cancel and airbnb sends me a request for a full refund due to COVID 19 !! I reject it and I hope airbnb does not automatically make the return without first consulting the situation.
I can take the hit until April 14th. I've already accepted it. Even until the end of April. The problem is when I have guests asking for full refunds in May and June too. We don't know when its going to stop. Are we really going to be expected to give 100% refunds through the summer.
While we are issueing full refund to almost all our guests, I don't agree with you on the point that it's the "right thing to do". We are simply doing this for courtesy.
Guests made the reservation and both host and guest agreed on it then it's a "contract". Both side have the commitment to fulfill the contract. Just like you have your home loan and now with the pandemic you are not able to keep up the monthly payment. Is the bank going to dismiss it for you? They are only delaying your payment instead of dismissing it. Same applies to rent, etc. That the reservation has not taken place does not grant the guest the right for a full refund. It is TOTALLY WRONG to think that a guest deserves full refund due to the hit of pandemic. When the reservation is made, there's a contract there between the host, guest and Airbnb. All three have the responsibility to fulfill the contract and if there's any uncontrollable incident that makes it not fullfillable, all three have to share the loss reasonably, instead of making the host the ONLY one that suffer the loss.
One thing you are missing..... with a mortgage or rent, you are living in the house, you use it, occupy it, and store your personal items there. Owning a house with a mortgage or renting is NOTHING like a hotel or Airbnb booking.
Like many hosts have already said..... why are hosts entitled to keep the guest's money for a service that guests can no longer access AND hosts can no longer provide due to a circumstance beyond anyone's control?
Majority of hotels that I know of (in Asia) have been (since end of Feb) and ARE still and continuing to make full refunds for all non-refundable bookings which were booked prior to mid-March for stays up to May~June.
@Jessica-and-Henry0 Actually there are hosts yelling here about the cancellations who own multiple homes, which they rent out exclusively for strs, who are up in arms because they can't now afford to pay the mortgage on all of them. That, to me, is just odious.
To be honest..... I see those types as small business owners (closer to a landlord + manager) rather than "hosts" in the traditional sense. They made a bad real estate investment based on bad assumptions, put their trust in the wrong company and overstretched themselves - a house of cards.
@Jessica-and-Henry0 Yes, indeed. This whole debacle has been a real eye-opener for me. There seem to be a lot of these so-called hosts who think that somehow they were guaranteed that they would be able to make all these investments and have guest bookings pay the mortgage, taxes, and everything else associated with the upkeep of the property, forever.
For those hosts to be carrying on ad nauseum about their lost income, when there are hosts who are single parents, many of whom may hold down another job or two to make ends meet and just list a room or two in their home and now will be in dire straits, and perhaps lose the only home they and their children have, is just unreal and disgusting.
When a whole lot of people will never be able to afford to own any home at all- they'll just be putting rent money in someone else's pockets all their lives, having to move again whenever the rent gets too high.
The other thing I've been noticing is that not one of these hosts has expressed anything whatsoever regarding actually missing hosting and having guests, apart from the money. None have joined in on any of the threads where hosts are trying to help each other out by offering suggestions as to how hosts could use this down-time productively, or find other ways to supplement their income, or just be supportive in this uncertain time. Quite the contrary- they have jumped onto positive posts and tried to turn them into yet another rage fest. Nor have most of the multiple-property ranters and ragers ever come to this forum before this- never come to ask a question, never offered advice or support to other hosts here. But now that there's money involved, they want support and a unified army of hosts.
There is definitely a dramatic dichotomy evident. And I think that's one the major problems with Airbnb-trying to cram all these totally different kinds of hosting situations onto the same platform.
@Jessica-and-Henry0 And you can check my postings. I'm not saying not to refund the guest, but suggesting a half refund plus half voucher towards future bookings. This will help both hosts and guests to go through this difficult time. We do understand that guests cannot travel due to the pandemic so we are willing to work it out, but this work out does not mean the need to refund in full immediately. We are a whole community and everybody should be humble and helpful to others. Please be aware a lot of hosts will go bankrupcy if they are not supported and this will result in less available properties to book after the pandemic gets over. This is a loss to the guests as well and I don't think think guests would like to see this happen either, because it might mean price driven up due to short supply.
In my book, a *refund* means I have the money and I am giving it back to whoever paid me or gave it to me. For bookings/reservations that haven't taken place yet, hosts have not been paid so technically hosts aren't *refunding* anything.
The payout is made when service is provided upon check in. Before a guest actually checks in and stays, the payout is "potential" income, not "guaranteed" income.
I sympathize for everyone facing financial challenges due to covid-19, but "hosts will go bankrupt" doesn't seem like a good enough reason for guests to pay whatever amount for something they won't get. Hosting income comes from providing hosting services.
Just like shops make money when they actually sell something.
In my book, money that's scheduled to be paid to me is still my money, not someone else's. Just like your salary from the employer, that unless you leave the job they should be paid to you so it's essentially your money.
If guest has made the reservation then the money is scheduled to be paid to the host, then it's the host's money, just being held by Airbnb for the sake of a guarantee of the service, but it's still the HOST'S MONEY. The host is obligated to refund the money if conditions named in the contract happens, like the EC or cancellation policy allows, but not anything else.
I agree that there's potential income, not guaranteed. I'm not questioning on this. Let's take such an example, that most supermarkets today offer hassle free returns, but if you think about this deeper you'll see that it's based on the assumption that there's only a small portion of sales getting returned most of time. However if there's an event this might change. I remember last year when there was a prediction of strong snow storm in my area, all shops around me were sold out of generators. When the snow storm was gone, there was a huge wave of returns of the generators and I saw that most stores around me announced no return for generators purchased within the last month or so. They simply can't afford it.
The point is, from ethical perspect of view, the guests should be refunded, at least in some way, due to the outbreak. That's absolutely right and I'm not questioning that. However, from legal perspect of view, I don't think the hosts have ANY obligation to refund beyond the named cancellation policy and EC WHEN GUEST MADE THE RESERVATION. We are providing as much refund as we can, and I believe most hosts are doing the same thing, FOR THE SAKE OF GOOD WILL AND COURTESY, not that we are obligated to do so. What I'm claiming is that we are giving full refund to guests, but in a slightly different way so hosts can sustain this difficult time. Most guests don't need that money immediately at all since it's already paid out long time ago but hosts do. So why not use this money to help those hosts in immediate need of the money, and then reward the guests later when the difficulty is gone? That's my point.
"Just like shops make money when they actually sell something. "
This sentence shows you need to learn more about modern business and finance. Nowadays this only applies to small items. Most large items, including a $10k car, are sold with installment payment. With modern business and finance it's not simply whoever possess something owns it, but everything is done by contract. For example when you rent your property to a tenant, the tenant will have possession of the property, under permission of the lease agreement between you. However he/she certainly doesn't own it. On the other hand, the monthly rent that the tenant pays you is essentially owned by you although in the tenant's possession. We simply follow the contract terms and pay the fine if breaching the contract. When the contract is not fulfillable we negotiate to find out how to share the loss, not simply asking one side to suffer the loss.