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About to get screwed by host and AirBnb

On Jan 14th, I booked a house for my family in New Orleans during Jazz Fest (last week in April). We booked and were accepted for a 3 bedroom townhouse from a “Superhost” with 37 positive reviews for $1120 (not including the service fee). That’s $140 per day. I should note that there was another 3 bedroom house in the area for almost the exact same price when I was trying to book (you’ll see why that’s relevant later).

On Feb 17th (a month later) I received a message from him saying that there was some error on pricing on AirBnb’s part and his house actually cost $250 per day. He asked me to cancel the reservation. If I had done this I would have lost the $102 service fee.

I politely messaged back explaining that we had bought plane tickets, taken time off work, bought tickets for Jazz Fest etc. I also said that since this was AirBnb’s pricing mistake, perhaps he should talk to AirBnb about covering the difference.

He then messaged me back later and said that he had contacted AirBnb and that they would not cover the difference in pricing. Furthermore, they were going to allow him to cancel without penalty since the date was far out (about a month and a half away). He stated that he could simply not forgo the $1000 in lost income by allowing us to stay at his house for the original price.

I contacted an AirBnb service rep by phone and they told me that I was “in good hands” and that AirBnb would not allow him to cancel without penalty. Also, if he did cancel on me, then they would find me another place for the value of the original booking plus 10 percent. Right now all I can find in New Orleans for $140 per night is a single bedroom. I can’t fit 6 adults in a single bedroom. If this had happened a month ago I could have found a decent place.

So my questions are:

  • What can I do at this point?
  • Are they going to let this “Superhost” cancel on me, then rent out the place to someone else for more money that week, and suffer no ill consequences?
  • Was this guy lying about the pricing thing or has this happened before with AirBnb where they’ve messed up the pricing?

Was this via Instant Book?

No you are right.
It probably was his mistake that’s why he wants you to cancel and not home. He needs to honor his price don’t let him push you around you booked the house fair and square. Airbnb should be on your side. And trust me that’s coming from me a host

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When iread a 140$ per day a 3 bedroom house during jazz fest, i thought immediately that the price was crazy low. BUt thats besides the point.

The host might be telling the truth. Sometimes glitches in a system can mixed up pricing. It happened to me twice. But the problem would not be just with that host, it would be on a whole system. Airbnb should be aware of this.
A host can cancel and pay a 100$ fee and loose his superhost status, but he deffinitely can cancel

What’s interesting is it seems this was not an Instant Book reservation. From the first line about the host accepting, it would appear that the reservation, which would have included the price, was presented to the host to confirm or decline. If that’s the case, then it was on the host to decline it at that point.

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True, but hosts cancell all the time even after they accepted the reservation. Strange though that the host did not even look for the cost of reservation before approving it. May be it was an IB

Sounds like the host is being greedy to me and slipped up not realising the potential for extra income during a very busy period in the area.

As others have said, the host can cancel and you would be left without a place and as you have found, supply is currently low in the area.

Airbnb should be on your side but the host may decide to jeopardise his Superhost status and pay the ‘fee’ because he can earn much more.

As hard as it may be to hear, if you really want to stay there, you may have to pay a bit more - could you negotiate with the host and maybe pay half the increased price - the alternative being that your are left without anywhere to stay.

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Thank you for all of your replies and advice.

The hosting was not an InstantBook. The host confirmed the reservation.

We’ve been back and forth with AirBnb at this point and the host has not confirmed whether he will or will not honor the reservation at this point. I’ve told him that if he intends to cancel the reservation that he should do so immediately so I have time to figure out something else.

AirBnb hasn’t been terribly helpful. The Trip department offered me a full refund if the host cancels but nothing else. That will leave me pretty high and dry if I have to find a place to stay last minute during Jazz Fest.

I am not willing to pay the host more money because I didn’t do anything wrong. I just looked at the site and booked a place at the advertised price. He accepted and waited a month before trying to twist my arm into canceling (and losing a $102 fee to AirBnb) so he could rent it to someone else for more money.

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Don’t cancel the reservation. Here’s why… If you cancel the reservation, the host can relist those dates. If the host cancels, they can’t resell those dates. It is in their interest to honor the reservation.

Other penalties

Automated reviews: An automated review will be posted to your listing’s profile indicating that you canceled one of your reservations. These reviews can’t be removed, but you can always write a public response to clarify why you needed to cancel.
Unavailable/blocked calendar: Your calendar will stay blocked and you won’t be able to accept another reservation for the same dates of the canceled reservation.
Loss of eligibility for Superhost status: You won’t be eligible to earn Superhost status for one year after your most recent cancellation.

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This sounds terrible. As hosts we often hear stories of airbnb making the guest happy at the expense of the host. Why they are not holding this guy to abide by the contract is puzzling.

Shenanigans like this will give airbnb a bad name and make people hesitate to book with us in the future.

Keep us posted.

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Here’s what clearly happened. His normal calendar price is $140. He forgot to switch his calendar to the higher rate for Jazz Fest. You booked it at the lower price and he was stuck. He was trying to put it off on AirBnB but clearly he just forgot to change his calendar pricing. Then when you enquired he simply forgot that was JF week. Until he remembered!

If he did that to you he’s an absolute schmuck. Superhost or no, to ask you to cancel yourself is clearly being a mega-jerk.

I think you should wait to see if he cancels. He might just do the right thing and let it stand. Next time he’ll remember to change the calendar for the high demand dates.

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yup, he is being a jerk.

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Bingo. I interpreted it exactly the same way. He accepted your reservation, thus you now have a contract. If he decides to change what is already a done deal, the breach is on him. Air’s software has glitches but not like this! They would be out of business so fast. He’s a greedy host who rather than kicking himself for his lack of foresight is trying to play you for a fool. Don’t give in!

Let me tell you. I sent a request for an apartment in Rio last year and was amazed at how cheap it was during Carnaval. The host wrote to me admitting that she had forgotten to increase the price for those days and politely asked if I would mind removing the request, allowing her to adjust the price, and then request again. I appreciated her honesty and was more than happy to pay a fair price for a studio during a peak time. See? That’s how you build good relationships with people. The future success of Air depends on promoting that.

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I would buy the hosts story if it was IB. We have had a few pricing issues with IB, mainly allowing someone to book for 1 night when we have a 3 min. Air BNB wasn’t helpful and it took weeks to get it sorted.

We made a similar mistake last year during a huge conference in Barcelona, we didn’t raise our price and left $$$ on the table, but that’s part of running your own business. You are responsible for failure and success.

I just did a really bad mistake. I had my rate at 65$ and did not change for Christmas and New Year. And someone booked so far ahead. i am on IB. i am loosing 650$ because i could rent it for twice more. I am not cancelling. I strongly believe that its unethical to cancel someone who already booked.
In your case, the host really is being a jerk. It happens all the time though, i hear stories that people are on their way and a host cancells them

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makemakeio - what was the outcome of this?

OH gosh!!!
What a bitter pill to swallow!!! And a hard IB lesson learned, but pleased to hear you have the integrity to honor the price. Win some and lose some.

Instant Book more than a few weeks out doesn’t really make sense. It seemed to be geared toward getting a place last-minute without having to jump through hoops that can take a number of hours.

IB makes a lot of sense to me. I don’t know how you guys do it answering all the inquiries without people actually booking., That’s too much work for me. And then screening guests??? Asking questions going back and forth.

I don’t personally adhere to the philosophy that ‘whatever the market can bare’ should be the ‘right’ or ‘fair’ price, which is really at the crux of this thread. After all, why would a higher demand for some dates because of some third-party event change what I would have been happy with in the first place change my position… However, I could understand why many hosts do not follow this philosophy, one of the reasons is because they do have a limited ‘season’ and if not make the best of it then, then when else.

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