South Korean discriminatory Cancellation Policy! I want to be South Korean while traveling with Airbnb.

in
Miami, FL
Level 2
737 Views

Today, I found out I want to be !!!South Korean!!! while travelling with Airbnb. Because I will get a special VIP treatment just simply based on my country of origin. I will get a 30 day cancellation grace period, instead of 48h like everyone else in the world.  How is even possible that Airbnb owners are accepting this?.  I am truly concerned about this discriminatory approach towards non-South Korean guests, so  I am going to keep investigating to find out if Airbnb's legal team is at least sensing that this is a nonsense with huge potential to become a democratic disaster within the Airbnb community. This Airbnb decision is in essence discriminatory in two ways. How do you think I feel about being non-South Korean, and having a different treatment when it comes to respect hosts cancellation policies? Secondly, how do you think I will feel about accepting reservations from South Koreans moving forward?

 

I am a US citizen, originally born in Spain. I am  a Miami-based host since  the beginning of Airbnb's existence. The majority of the time, I feel very lucky to have a business partner like Airbnb. But today I feel cheated, abused by the power of the giant, and discriminated for being non-South Korean. Today, it was the first time that a South Korean guest of me cancels, and gets a full refund (despite the fact I have a strict cancellation policy).

I did not receive any "warning" or pop-up message informing me that this South Korean guest has a VIP 30 day cancellation policy, that overrides my " strict cancellation" policy. I did not accept anything electronically, except for the reservation itself. If I had received that 30 day pop-up notice, I would have declined it in a heartbeat.  Why would I accept a 30 day cancellation policy guest when my cancellation is strict? It does not make sense. 

I contacted Airbnb customer service to request the 50% refund I was entitled. And for the first time I heard about the South Korean special treatment. Wait a minute!  I live in Miami. The reservation is for a US stay. How do you apply a South Korean policy here in the land of freedom and equality? The Airbnb ambassadors keep repeating the same song (They are super sweet, though). But the problem is that I did not receive any pop-up message, I did not accept this special policy for this South Korean VIP guest,  I did not click on any link, and did not authorize the full refund.

So.... I am requesting electronic proof that I truly received this pop-up message, and that I electronically click on the ACCEPT bottom.  If Airbnb ambassadors can provide this proof, my mistake! I will drop my claim. But if they don't, I am going to keep asking them to honor my cancellation policy. 

Last thing they told me is that they can not do that. They claimed they do not have the means to send me any digital proof besides the reservation acceptance itself, of course.

Can someone out there (inside or outside Airbnb, hosts who experienced similar cases, IT geniuses of the world, virtual investigators, anyone... ) send me some insight if my request of receiving digital proof of my "electronical acceptance" (of this VIP South Korean 30 day cancellation policy) is feasible? Is it reasonable?

Thanks so much in advance. 

Ana "from Spain, US citizen, unfortunately not South-Korean while traveling with Airbnb"

21 Replies

Re: South Korean discriminatory Cancellation Policy! I want to be South Korean while traveling with Airbnb.

in
Paris, France
Level 10

Hi @Ana1693 ,

You’re right!

This change is order to comply with the regulation in South Korea has come into action after talks between Airbnb and the Korean Fair Trade Commission. Airbnb will also refund their service fee in cases where guest refunds are issued.

Happy Hosting 😀

Dale and Dan

Re: South Korean discriminatory Cancellation Policy! I want to be South Korean while traveling with Airbnb.

in
Keaau, HI
Level 6

We have been hosting for 4 years and had hosted guests from South Korea. When they booked with us in the past, a pop up message would have the South Korean policy there for you to read and a yes or not that you would click yes or no and we had instant book and a strict policy. Just a few weeks ago we had our first guest from South Korea in over a year and their profile did not say that they were Korea and the pop up did not come on.  She arrived for a 3 day stay and then on here 3rd day, she emailed us that she wanted to go to the other side of the island.  She cancelled her reservation, even though she had stayed 2 nights and was given 50% off the 3rd day.  I was so upset.  I agree that this policy is discriminative and needs to end ASAP.  Airbnb should have one policy for the world!  If not, then they should go back to sending that pop up.  Very upsetting when we work so hard and if we want to cancel a trip to an Airbnb, we are not given a refund.

Re: South Korean discriminatory Cancellation Policy! I want to be South Korean while traveling with Airbnb.

in
Bristol, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Ana1693  As you're hopefully aware Airbnb has to work within the legislation of the country's  it operates in.

 

So will work differently for example  in the UK, China and South Korea than it does in the US in line with our consumer and other legislation. 

Strange you find it discriminatory and so upsetting @Ana1693 

 

Different countries . Different laws. Different consumer protection.  If you want to improve consumer protection in your country - lobby your politicians 😁 

Re: South Korean discriminatory Cancellation Policy! I want to be South Korean while traveling with Airbnb.

Level 10

I've never heard of a foreign government being able to impose the home country law on a host country.  That's like saying that Americans can bring guns to the UK because they're allowed to own them in America.

 

What has happened here is, that in order to for Airbnb to be allowed to take bookings from South Korean nationals living in South Korea, the government has insisted that South Korean law be imposed upon the terms of booking, regardless of which country the host operates in, effectively denying the host the benefit of consumer law in his/her own country, as we know, Airbnb pays scant attention to that.

 

Airbnb not sending a message and giving a host the option not to accept the booking is no different to how it behaves when there's a problem with the guest ID or credit card.  It simpy ties up your calendar, without any consultation, whilst the guest is allowed to get their house in order.  The fact that it impacts your business is of no concern to Airbnb, if it doesn't get resolved, the fact that you may have missed out on other bookings is irrelevant.  Airbnb makes its money from the guest and is therefore focussed very acutely on doing what it can to secure a sale, regardless of the impact upon the host.

 

 

 

 

Re: South Korean discriminatory Cancellation Policy! I want to be South Korean while traveling with Airbnb.

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Cave0  It seems really strange to me, too. It's one thing to apply these laws to South Koreans booking in their own country, but applying it to foreign bookings seems like it would be illegal. Why is a host's cancellation policy not honored because of consumer protection laws in another country?

Re: South Korean discriminatory Cancellation Policy! I want to be South Korean while traveling with Airbnb.

in
Bristol, United Kingdom
Level 10

Because the consumer protection laws apply to the country the guest comes from @Sarah977 

 

For example, in the UK our consumer laws means if a guest can't travel because a host can't host them because Covid legislation is introduced,  we need to refund in full.

Re: South Korean discriminatory Cancellation Policy! I want to be South Korean while traveling with Airbnb.

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Helen3  Your example I can totally understand- your rental is in the UK and the guests need to be refunded in accordance with UK law. 

 

What I don't understand is how a South Korean law can be applied outside of that country, just because the guest is from South Korea. 

 

Can you think of any other laws that are applied like that? If I travel to the UK, I am subject to the laws of your country while I am there, not the laws of Mexico.

Re: South Korean discriminatory Cancellation Policy! I want to be South Korean while traveling with Airbnb.

in
Berlin, Germany
Level 10

@Sarah977 @Cave0  It's hard for a third-party vendor to win a chargeback dispute with a bank if a transaction is found to be in violation of the account holder's trade laws. Airbnb has no problem with breaking all kinds of laws, but presumably it wants to get paid.

 

There might also be conditions that the South Korean government imposed on Airbnb in order to operate in South Korea - I don't know anything about their laws, but it does seem that they make some strict distinctions between the rights of foreign and domestic travelers. I'm not sure about any of this, but what we can be 100% certain of is that the policy was not based on some kind of ethnic favoritism for Koreans.

 

Another poster once discovered that an American guest found a loophole that enabled him to use the South Korea cancellation policy merely by changing the home country on his user profile.  I certainly hope that loophole has closed, but can't confirm one way or other if it's still possible.

Re: South Korean discriminatory Cancellation Policy! I want to be South Korean while traveling with Airbnb.

Level 10

@Andrew0 

 

I'm sure you're correct in your assumption that the SK government imposed the cancellation policy as a condition of Airbnb being allowed to trade in that market and Airbnb clearly had an option to agree or not as the case may have been.  But of course, that's a business decision for Airbnb and clearly Airbnb wants to operate in this lucrative market. 

 

However, it's unreasonable for Airbnb to expect hosts to be bound by terms to which are outside of their agreement with Airbnb .  Therefore it's disappointing if hosts aren't being given a clear and reasonable opportunity to review and potentially decline reservations before they realise, albeit too late, that their policies have been effectively cancelled in favour of those agreed on their behalf by Airbnb.

 

Having spent a great deal of time over a great number of years in SK, I have to say that I for one would always welcome SK nationals as guests without any hesitation, more courteous, respectful and hospitable people I have yet to meet and it's unfortunate if failings in the reservation process were to bring an undeserved reputation.

 

That is not to say, of course, that Airbnb should expect to be able to impose conditions on a host which the host was not made aware of before accepting a reservation, which is clearly the issue in fact.

Re: South Korean discriminatory Cancellation Policy! I want to be South Korean while traveling with Airbnb.

in
Berlin, Germany
Level 10

@Cave0   Yes, it's definitely a problem if that pop-up is no longer appearing before hosts accept a booking to which this policy applies. 

Re: South Korean discriminatory Cancellation Policy! I want to be South Korean while traveling with Airbnb.

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Andrew0 "There might also be conditions that the South Korean government imposed on Airbnb in order to operate in South Korea"

 

I would guess that's exactly what happened.

Re: South Korean discriminatory Cancellation Policy! I want to be South Korean while traveling with Airbnb.

in
Jamestown, CA
Level 10

@Ana1693 Wow, I don’t have the strict cancelation policy on my booking but I would be really upset if someone booked with us and halfway through the stay they decided to leave and I lost money because of it. The Airbnb platform is very glitchy. They are constantly breaking things with their updates. I believe you probably didn’t see the pop up message. It doesn’t seem right to me.

Re: South Korean discriminatory Cancellation Policy! I want to be South Korean while traveling with Airbnb.

in
Portugal
Level 4

This is interesting to now. Because I ve NON REFUNDABLE cancellation policy and I’ve been more than a week talking with AIRBNB and they said, it is not their side. Plus the guest has an option to choose STRICT or NON REFUNDABLE (with 10% discount).

 

i said that is the guest side, I’m the HOST, i ONLY want to rent NON REFUNDABLE.... it has been like talking to a wall .... so our policies are being manipulated by the system ...

Re: South Korean discriminatory Cancellation Policy! I want to be South Korean while traveling with Airbnb.

in
Keaau, HI
Level 6

Hi Mark and Gabriel, That just happened to us!  We have a strict policy and we had a guest who was going to stay for 8 nights and cancelled 11 days before he was to arrive.  They gave him a full refund!  When I called, they said that I had a moderate policy and also Smart Pricing.  Both of which, I have never had!  Glitch is right! 

 

In the past year, many things seem to have been changed, while we were all closed due to Covid. I started noticing these things since we have gotten busier.

Korean Policy updated with even more flexibility given to them.  See what the policy used to be and what it was changed to last year

The fact that if you don't accept the Korean guest and decline some you will lose your Super Host status

Airbnb not sending the option to accept or Decline the Korean guest

Blocking our calendar, while Airbnb is investigating the profile of a new user and if they don't accept them, then we lose out on those blocked days. 

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