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.
@Jessica-and-Henry0 First I disagree your statement "keep the guest's money for a service ...". Like I said, this is a contract. Once the contract was signed, the money NO LONGER BELONGS to the guest any more. Just like if you signed a rental lease and agreed on a monthly rent of $1000 then this $1000 from your monthly income is NOT YOUR OWN MONEY any more. You are supposed to pay it to the landlord so it actually belongs to the landlord, although technically in your possession. That's how contract works. If there's any uncontrollable thing happens and you moved out of the area, your lease does not get terminated automatically. Instead, you and your landlord have to figure out a solution. Similar thing should apply here as well.
The "mortgage" I mentioned is just an example, but it in fact includes all type of borrowed money. I know a lot of hosts have more than one house listed on Airbnb that they bought with borrowed money and count on the income from the bookings to pay the monthly payment as well as the utilities. Hotels do the same thing as well just they pay commercial loan. That's the way business is done if you are not familiar. Usually hotels are less vulnerable because they are backed by a larger company so they have more resources to sustain longer with reduced or stopped cash flow. However every single host is a small business owner that he/she doesn't have anything to back his/her business. A lot of hosts might face bankrupcy if they lose the cash flow for 1-2 months we need to face this fact. Most guests will not have too much difficulty if we don't refund them immediately.
Exactly. Via the cancellation policy they agreed to, there is some sort of deposit in place. This is normal for bookings of most kinds. Many hosts here are ranting about travel insurance and I don't agree with that. Most policies have a clause that excludes pandemics. Sure, some insurance policies do cover it, but not so many, and how on earth were guests supposed to predict this and take out one of the few policies that did? Do the rest of us do that when we make travel plans? Probably not.
So no, I am not expecting the guests to take the full hit, but let's share it a little bit because, if we "Are all in this together", surely we can split the losses across the board, not just put all the burden on hosts, a lot of whom are being broken by this. It's not just the "stupid" hosts who relied solely on Airbnb for their income and had no business sense, like some are suggesting on the CC.
I could have not predicted that I would lose a job where I was highly valued. COVID-19 screwed that up. Some people on the CC are calling anyone who is now in dire financial straights a fool. I would like to see what they say if one day they are put in our shoes...
Great point. I like the idea saying that humanity is to give and help others rather than demanding. What I've been seeing in the Airbnb community is completely one sided. On one side, most hosts I know are generous, kind-hearted and helpful. We usually provide help as much as we can to the most picky guests and don't even complain about it. Usually when a guest has problem and cannot travel most of us provide as much refund as we could, and most of time it's well beyond the cancellation policy would grant. However on the other hand, I seldom see guests returning similarly to hosts. When the pandemic happened, vast majority of guests simply cancel the reservation and demand for full refund. Some of them were really rude when asking for refund. I even had a guest made a same day booking for 2 nights and on the 2nd day after the check in day he asked me to refund him telling me he couldn't travel. This is really non-sense.
@Jessica-and-Henry0 Thank you for your kind and sensible thoughts on this pandemic. @Nanxing0 You are citing the terms of the original cancellation policy as if a global emergency was not already covered. Are you aware that before Airbnb's special COVID-19 policy was rolled out on 3/14 that this was already part of the standard "EC" policy. So, this was in place to protect the guests when they made their reservations. See what it says below:
Natural disasters, terrorist activity, and civil/political unrest that prevent the guest from traveling to or from the destination, or that make it unsafe to host guests.
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.
Safety and security threat advisories issued for the listing or experience location or the guest party’s departure location.
I think Airbnb came up with this special policy because it is impacting so many and wanted to be able to resolved these claims without having to evaluate documentation for each one. The original policy would mandate that a guest submit documentation validating the relevance. Airbnb only had to turn on the news to know this is an international issue. So, they weren't changing the terms that hosts and guests agreed to. They were just adjusting their responsibility for managing that.
If you want to see some furious customers that haven't gotten refunds you should visit the Facebook page. Apparently Airbnb isn't giving the hosts money but they are also not refunding many guests. Their COVID-19 EC policy may very well have been intended to make them look like the good guys but it is not turning out that way because they are alienating hosts and guests.
I had a booking scheduled for April 3-10 in Ireland where I was meeting my two daughters who were living in Spain. I cancelled on 3/13 after the WHO declared a pandemic on 3/11. My host has refused to give me a refund. Aside from other impolite remarks he told me that I must be a "Trump supporter" because I cited US flight restrictions and declarations from the State Dept. He told me that my accommodations would be waiting no matter what was happening in the world.
Rudeness and lack of understanding are not reserved for either guests or hosts. I think we all need to work together to keep the world a safe place. However, I do think I should be entitled to a full refund because the original EC policy that was/is in place still applies to what is preventing me from traveling.
@Barbara2157 You are absolutely right that Airbnb came up this policy to make a faster process otherwise if we still review case by case it will be a big problem. If the original EC policy covers the pandemic, then why AIrbnb claim this as an "updated EC policy"? They can simply say it's an updated procedure to make the refund easier and faster since the EC policy covers all reservations that meet the criteria.
I'm sorry you were not treated well by the host, but trust me, most hosts have experienced many more mean guests than the number of mean hosts guests experienced. And you need to consider the fact that at the time you cancelled the reservation, the host probably received tons of cancellations in a row and he was panicking about the situation so he just wanted to stick with the cancellation policy regardless. I personally have this experience so I can feel his feelings. I was so busy during that time that all my work each day was sitting in front of my computer processing refunds for various guests. It's not rudeness nor lack of understanding, just instinctive reaction when getting overloaded and panicking. I hope guests can have more understanding on this situation that hosts are facing, and try to figure out ways to go through it together as a community, rather than keep demanding for money all the time.
@Nanxing0 I completely understand that he may have felt overwhelmed by the number of cancellations to his business. This is similar to what I have felt over the past two weeks as my business has been deemed "non-essential" and I can't work. It is frustrating, for sure! None of us like that. However, there is a special place in hell for those trying to profit off of this pandemic (including Airbnb!!). I had 4 reservations in Ireland. Two gave full refunds. Two gave back nothing. I guess some people are comfortable making selfish but immoral choices. Karma will find them eventually.
@Barbara2157 I think it's a simple logic that you can't expect all hosts to respond the same way. Be honest during that time I refunded 99% of the reservations, but there were also a couple of reservations I refused to refund since I didn't think those guests were entitled for any refund. Each case is different and different hosts have different standard to judge it. I know there are hosts did better than me that issued 100% refund, and I also know hosts tried to not refund as much as possible as well. It's not easy to determine if guests are entitled for full refund or not in different situations so it's all based on communication and discussion. If a guest keeps saying "I'm entitled for full refund" to the host it only makes the host unhappy, even if the host agrees with that.
I have to say that not giving refund is not "selfish". Again case and case are different. I just had a guest who made a same day booking a couple days ago and then on the 2nd day after check in day he asked me for a refund and I refused it. If you call me selfish on this decision I have nothing to say. I can safely speak that vast majory of Airbnb hosts have refused to refund on at least 1 reservation in the past. It's up to you if you want to define all these hosts selfish, but all I can see among hosts is nice and warm. My family have travelled using Airbnb many times and have cancelled several times due to various reasons and I have received full refund on all of them, even a couple times I don't think I was entitled for full refund myself, the host refunded me. But as far as I know in those cases, some other guests might feel they are entitled for full refund. Again, different standard in different mind.
IMO as a host and (sometimes a guest) the global, government initiated lockdowns and travel bans are exactly what I'd consider an "extenuating circumstance".
I said in a different post and in a lot of my older posts, I never liked the EC clause we all had to agree to mainly because in my mind, emergency medical treatment/illness, car accident on the way to the airport, death in the family - this is what travel insurance is for and I always personally thought EC covering these things was overstepping and a sign of Airbnb bending over backwards for guests. BUT! BUT! BUT! natural disasters (flood/fire/earthquake), wars, border restrictions, travel bans - what we commonly know as Force Majeure (and usually NOT covered by travel insurance) I understand and accept - I don't have to *like it* but in such cases I feel a full refund is the right thing to do. And this is the foundation behind the intention of my OP and my position in all of my posts related to the covid-19 topic. I think I've been pretty consistent in my position/opinion on the CC over the past 3 yrs I've been active here.
Things that are completely out of anyone's control happen...... and this will inevitably lead to automatic cancellation of a contract/agreement because BOTH parties are no longer able to fulfill what was previously agreed on and so the contract is nullified. This is what is happening around the world.
@Jessica-and-Henry0 Same to me as for the EC condition and clause. I issue refund to people that couldn't travel for most reasons well beyond the EC clause. Under normal circumstance this is not a problem at all but under this pandemic where there's a mass cancellation and refund, there should be a special procedure to somehow delay the refunds to ease the possible financial difficulty for hosts. This is something Airbnb should be managing for all of us.
It's essentially the same idea as the retail shops where they accept hassle free returns but when there's an event that causes mass returns, they temporarily refuse all returns to protect themselves. I take an example a couple years ago there was a big snow storm and I found that all generators were sold out in any stores near me including Lowe's, Home Depot, Costco, etc. However when the storm was gone there was a mass return of the generators they bought so I noticed most of those shops announced no return on generators bought within the last month or so. I'm not asking to reject refunds to guests, just somehow delay it so the majority of hosts won't suffer the hit.
Again, I'm not arguing that we should give full refund to guests, but my argument is that 1 this is not an essential right of the guests but hosts' courtesy. 2 manage to somehow delay it for most refunds so most hosts can survive during this time.