Am I crazy? Advice on refund for red tide - Southwest Florida

in
Florida, United States
Level 2
1,908 Views

Hello all,


I had a guest who was to check in today. He booked while I had a moderate cancellation policy; I've since changed it to strict. He contacted me last Thursday to ask about the red tide in SW Florida.  I sent him two very long detailed responses. Our place is on Anna Maria Island which was, at the time, unaffected. Now the southern half of the island is affected but our immediate part of the island is not. In fact, there are plenty of people on the beach today.

However, I told him Thursday that he wanted to cancel, if he did so that day he'd get his 50% refund and if I rebooked all or a portion fo the days, then I would give him the net earnings (which I consider 75% to 80%) of what I earned toward his refund. He then wrote me back with a total sob story  about how they had "saved up for three years" and this was their "one and only vacation for two years" -- but he was recommended by multiple hosts since he joined Airbnb 18 months ago, so I knew that wasn't true. He wrote that I should not think of it as a "business decision" but for the good of his family and that basically, I was a bad person if I didn't give him all of his money back. As we all know, we're not renting our houses for the fun of it.

Anyway, he didn't cancel then and instead waited until the day before check-in. He still expected the earnings of rebooked nights. I discounted the rate ($189 night from $365) and cut the minimum check-in to four days (instead of the usual seven) and miraculously, I booked four days within a few hours. So I sent him $600, about 80% of what I will earn for that booking.

As it happens, the new guests asked to add a fifth night this morning. I decided that given this extra income, I'd refund the canceled guests their cleaning fee of $160 in addition to what I had sent.

The original payout was $2,300, and he got refunded around $1,150. So with the $600, that was $1,750.  I went to give him another $160 to refund the cleaning the fee in addition this morning only to find that he's filed a claim against me in the Resolution Center. They haven't yet communicated with me, so I can only assume that he's asking for a full refund.

If I had been able to give him the $160 today, it would have put his out of pocket at around $390 - a little more than the cost of one night. (He had a 6-night booking.) Obviously there are Airbnb booking fees on that, too, but that's out of my control.

Instead of $2,300 for the week, I am going to earn about $575 for the week due to his last-minute cancellation -- with guests in my house for five nights, using the AC, having the pool cleaned, requiring a turn, etc. so really it's a net loss. It would have been better if I had not booked it.

Am I being a jerk? It was a last-minute cancellation for something that is not my fault. I would have been more willing to do a full refund if he had cancelled earlier, which might have allowed me to get a higher rate for the replacement nights since I would have had it open all weekend, rather than a handful of hours left on a Sunday.

My husband didn't think I should have sent any additional funds to them, but I wanted to do right by the guests. I am now reluctant to give them any additional money back now that they filed a claim against me.

What would you do? What can I expect of the Airbnb in terms of what they will require for a resolution? Will they expect me to take a loss for the week in order to give them a full refund?

I have reached out to my other guests booked for this month to advise them of the red tide situation so if they want to cancel, they can. But if they don't follow the cancellation policy and cancel last-minute, then they'll get back 50%. So at least we all know where we stand and I won't be in this situation again.

5 Replies

Re: Am I crazy? Advice on refund for red tide - Southwest Florida

in
Austin, TX
Level 10

This is a situation (red tide) where I would fully expect ABB to override your cancellation policy and 100% refund anyone who claims to be bothered by it.

 

Also, cleaning fees are always automatically refunded by ABB if a guest does not checkin.

Best to never refund a guest yourself, but always wait to see what ABB does first.

Re: Am I crazy? Advice on refund for red tide - Southwest Florida

in
Florida, United States
Level 2

Thanks. I did see that about the cleaning fee after I posted this. I have had very few cancellations, so I should consider myself lucky.


 I'll just count on ABB requiring me to give them a full refund and chalk it up to experience. I also just decided to accept that most or all of my bookings until early October will cancel. I'm going to use the time to paint and put in new flooring. 

The only other time I had a guest ask for a resolution was due to a bad storm that hit during a stay. It was basically just very stormy for two days which happens during the summer in Florida. The guests demanded the full week free. I gave them $250 and it was resolved.

Re: Am I crazy? Advice on refund for red tide - Southwest Florida

in
Atascosa, TX
Level 10

@Kathleen5  Never refund until you have been paid by AirBnB. 

Re: Am I crazy? Advice on refund for red tide - Southwest Florida

in
Florida, United States
Level 2

Oh, that's a good point. Will I get paid anything since they aren't going to check in? I guess not.

Re: Am I crazy? Advice on refund for red tide - Southwest Florida

in
Wilmington, NC
Level 10

@Kathleen5Just FYI for future reference, any bookings made while you had the "moderate" cancellation policy in effect still stand. Changing your cancellation policy only effects reservations made from that point on.

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