I made a double booking by mistake on Airbnb. Can I get a refund?
Question: I was planning a bachelorette party in Los Angeles for 14 women. A few days before our trip, the Airbnb property that we had booked two and a half months in advance was canceled due to water line issues. I did not have a secure property for a busy holiday weekend.
In the frenzy of contacting over 20 potential hosts for a new property, I accidentally got double-booked on two properties for the same dates. I immediately contacted Airbnb to cancel one of the properties, but they forced me to adhere to the strict cancellation policy. I tried speaking with supervisors, but the response was the same. I even tried to file a case with my credit card company, but it was decided in Airbnb’s favor.
Airbnb’s policies are heavily biased towards protecting hosts and penalizing users. Additionally, while cancellation policies are in place to minimize damage to hosts, in this case these policies have been enforced in such a way that the host has benefited greatly – to the tune of thousands of dollars – and suffered no damage. I would like to have my $ 5,058 refunded, please. Can you help? – Lisa Huynh, Bartlett, Illinois
A: Isn’t that ironic? Your first Airbnb home had to be canceled and you let the owner go free of charge. You didn’t insist that the owner find a comparable Airbnb rental for the same price. And yet, now that you have to cancel your rental because of what you say was an honest mistake, Airbnb is asking you to pay $ 5,058.
I don’t understand how you could have accidentally booked two Airbnb properties for the same dates. I mean, it’s not Amazon, where you can do 1-Click shopping. You must navigate through multiple screens to confirm a reservation.
A review of your case reveals the answer. You have used Airbnb’s “reservation request” feature which allows you to contact the owner directly to make a reservation. The owner of the first property said the house was not available on your dates, so you booked the second property through Airbnb’s ‘book now’ feature. But then the first owner came back and said he was available and then charged your credit card. Whoops.
Airbnb’s most restrictive refund policy, known as the “strict” policy, allows you free cancellation up to 48 hours after your initial booking. Unfortunately there is some fine print. You must cancel at least 14 days before check-in. You have passed this window. Your case is a good reminder to read the confirmation emails you receive from Airbnb. You might find something there that doesn’t match your travel plans.
The next time you book something that costs $ 5,058, be sure to dot your i’s and cross your t’s. I might have tried to complete the loop with the first property before making the second booking.
I contacted Airbnb on your behalf. Airbnb has offered you a full refund.
Christopher Elliott is the Advocacy Manager for Elliott Advocacy, a non-profit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Contact him at elliott.org/help or [email protected].