Airbnb host cancels, and now I have to pay an extra $1,300

Q: I booked a two bedroom apartment in Washington, DC through Airbnb. My host canceled our reservation within 24 hours of my arrival. Airbnb sent me replacement listings, but all were much more expensive and smaller than the one we booked.

I quickly chose a one bedroom apartment which was $1300 more. Airbnb gave me a $200 coupon for a future booking. That’s it. They won’t even talk to me.

I think Airbnb should cover the $1300 difference. Our new location is 1.8 km from where we need to be, which means we also have travel expenses that we would not have had before. Can you help ?

Curtis Rahman, St. Louis Park

A: If a host cancels, Airbnb promises a full refund, according to its Rebooking and Refund Policy. And if a host cancels a month or less before your arrival and you contact Airbnb, they promise to “help” you find comparable or better accommodation.

But this is where things get fuzzy. Airbnb says that as part of its rebooking assistance, it can — but is not obligated to — pay for or contribute to the cost of new accommodations. “We may also offer customers the option of applying the value of a canceled reservation to new accommodations or receiving a travel credit in lieu of a cash refund,” the policy says.

In other words, it’s up to Airbnb to decide how much of your new listings it will cover. Interestingly, it recently changed its policy to remove language that required hosts to cover additional rebooking fees. This leaves you in a gray area.

When you rented the new place, I think you could have asked Airbnb to pay for it. If he agreed, you should have asked for this promise in writing. Instead, it looks like Airbnb believed you asked for your money back. “As per our terms of service, we have provided you with a full refund plus a coupon worth $200,” a rep wrote to you in an email.

I think you may have crossed your threads with Airbnb. The misunderstanding continued when you asked for a supervisor, but ended up talking to another rep. Worse still, you didn’t even see the $200 coupon, and by the time you saw it, you had already booked a new apartment and the coupon was weeks away from expiration.

I contacted Airbnb on your behalf. A representative contacted you a few hours later. Airbnb has refunded you the full $1,300 and another $200 coupon that expires within the year.

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit consumer organization. Contact him at or [email protected].

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