Viral Tweet About Airbnb A Nightmare Leaves The Internet Divided
On Tuesday, Cait Camelia and her friends were all set to check out their pre-booked Airbnb when the host reportedly canceled the group six hours before they arrived. With nowhere to go and all their money wrapped up in the booking, Camelia took to Twitter to express her outrage at the company. The tweet has since gone viral and hundreds of Twitter users have responded to share their experiences and opinions.
In her viral tweet which has since received over 60,000 likes, Camelia said, “@Airbnb we booked for a 3 month stay in March and put $3000 aside and you cancel it the day we are supposed to arrive, then expect us to have another $3,000 to distribute for accommodation on less than 6 hours notice???”
“No, someone needs to fix this immediately,” she said in a follow-up tweet.
Camelia claims in the thread that Airbnb responded in an attempt to resolve the issue; however, the company said it would take some time for its refund to be issued. On top of that, Camelia said the company tried to help her and her friends find a new place to stay for the evening, but the cost of those accommodations was “three times the original price we we paid”.
“I called and all you could do was say you would help us find another place to book knowing full well that last minute bookings are bloated. That’s why we booked 3 years ago months so we can find a 2 bedroom at this price,” she tweeted.
Other Twitter users were quick to wade into the controversy, with many saying they too had horrific experiences booking with Airbnb.
A user named Mel tweeted: “My friends and I just tried to cancel a booking over a month in advance because one of our friends is literally Dying and we received less than 50% of our refund lmao. @airbnb not impressed.”
“I had an Airbnb with blood smeared on the walls and every item of fabric down to the curtains covered in stains and Airbnb told me it was up to the host if I got a refund or not” , tweeted Tiyana. “Guess who didn’t get a refund. Their customer service is known to side with the host.”
According to Airbnb Guest Refund Policy, substandard accommodation or a “materially inaccurate” representation of accommodation in terms of size, special amenities, proximity, etc. all fall under what the company defines as a “travel issue”, which qualifies for a refund. Airbnb’s support account has contacted some of those who reported not receiving their refunds as a result of one or more of these issues.
In the case of the Camelia experience, Airbnb is offering full refunds to those whose hosts cancel a reservation.
An Airbnb spokesperson said Newsweek: “Although it’s rare, hosts sometimes cancel reservations due to unforeseen circumstances. When this happens, guests are entitled to a full refund, including the service fee. If the cancellation occurs shortly before the arrival date, our community support team stands ready to help clients find new accommodations, as they did in this case.”
However, as Camelia expressed, official policy states that a refund can take up to 10 business days to appear in a person’s account depending on how a person paid and where they came from. Those who pay with major credit cards could wait up to 15 days to receive their refunds.
Regarding refund processing times, the spokesperson said Newsweek“Refund processing times are determined by the bank or credit card company.”
The refund policy raises some interesting questions: what should customers like Camelia and her friends do if their money is completely tied up in a canceled reservation? And what should Airbnb’s liability be?
Airbnb’s support account has also reached out to some of those who complained they didn’t get help beforehand when a host canceled.
While many have come to Camelia’s defense, some have been quick to judge her, as well as those who have expressed their anger at the company.
“If you can’t float 3K, why the hell are you taking 3 months vacation?” asked one commenter “It’s the definition of living beyond your means.”
Camelia replied, “Not a vacation, I’m here for an internship. Also, we took all the money out of every account we had to try and book somewhere else just to have Airbnb cancel it and say it’ll take up ‘to 15 days for a refund. So we had no place to stay AND all our savings were inaccessible.”
“Why are Airbnb getting so much hate?! They’re not the ones cancelling,” someone else tweeted. “80% of the problems come from the host, Airbnb is the happy medium.”
One commenter responded to Camelia’s defence, “Because Airbnb needs to hold hosts accountable NOT to cancel reservations on such short notice as that’s the third-party resource usually used. A hotel wouldn’t cancel your stay. , so Airbnb must hold hosts to the same standards as part of the contract.”
“People love things that have no regulation until it gets bad for them then they want all the help that regulation would have prevented,” someone else tweeted in defense from Airbnb.
After receiving so much widespread, mostly negative attention, Camelia announced on Wednesday that Airbnb had finally offered to cover the cost of a hotel room for her and her friends while they also worked to secure the new lodging.
“I am extremely grateful for the way Airbnb handled my situation. The people I spoke to were very helpful. That being said, from all I’ve heard, my case is an exception,” Camelia said. “It shouldn’t take massive social media pressure for a big company to do the right thing.”
She added: “The real people who deserve a thank you are everyone who helped our case get noticed, without all of you I’m sure our situation would have been different. I appreciate everyone who helped, we are in the process of securing accommodation during our internships!”
To read Camelia’s full Twitter thread, click here.
10/6/21: This story has been updated to include an official statement from an Airbnb spokesperson.