If you are in the USA, Arbitration is an option. It looks like that is a “2nd step” after first the WRITTEN Dispute portion. See below.
So, you can probably win this. Air is betting that 99% of hosts will scream then shrug it off and eat the costs.
23.2 Overview of Dispute Resolution Process . Airbnb is committed to participating in a consumer-friendly dispute resolution process. To that end, these Terms provide for a two-part process for individuals to whom this Section 23 applies: (1) an informal negotiation directly with Airbnb’s customer service team (described in paragraph 23.3, below), and if necessary (2) a binding arbitration administered by the American Arbitration Association (“ AAA ”). You and Airbnb each retain the right to seek relief in small claims court as an alternative to arbitration.
23.3 Mandatory Pre-Arbitration Dispute Resolution and Notification . At least 30 days prior to initiating an arbitration, you and Airbnb each agree to notify the other party of the dispute in writing and attempt in good faith to negotiate an informal resolution. You must send your notice of dispute to Airbnb by mailing it to Airbnb’s agent for service: CSC Lawyers Incorporating Service, 2710 Gateway Oaks Drive, Suite 150N, Sacramento, California 95833 . Airbnb will send its notice of dispute to the email address associated with your Airbnb account. A notice of dispute must include: the party’s name and preferred contact information, a brief description of the dispute, and the relief sought. If the parties are unable to resolve the dispute within the 30-day period, only then may either party commence arbitration by filing a written Demand for Arbitration (available at www.adr.org) with the AAA and providing a copy to the other party as specified in the AAA Rules (available at www.adr.org).
23.4 Agreement to Arbitrate . You and Airbnb mutually agree that any dispute, claim or controversy arising out of or relating to these Terms or the applicability, breach, termination, validity, enforcement or interpretation thereof, or any use of the Airbnb Platform, Host Services, or any Content (collectively, “ Disputes ”) will be settled by binding individual arbitration (the “ Arbitration Agreement ”). If there is a dispute about whether this Arbitration Agreement can be enforced or applies to our Dispute, you and Airbnb agree that the arbitrator will decide that issue.
23.5 Exceptions to Arbitration Agreement . You and Airbnb each agree that the following causes of action and/or claims for relief are exceptions to the Arbitration Agreement and will be brought in a judicial proceeding in a court of competent jurisdiction (as defined by Section 22): (i) any claim or cause of action alleging actual or threatened infringement, misappropriation or violation of a party’s copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, patents, or other intellectual property rights; (ii) any claim or cause of action seeking emergency injunctive relief based on exigent circumstances (e.g., imminent danger or commission of a crime, hacking, cyber-attack); or (iii) a request for the remedy of public injunctive relief. You and Airbnb agree that the remedy of public injunctive relief will proceed after the arbitration of all arbitrable claims, remedies, or causes of action, and will be stayed pending the outcome of the arbitration pursuant to section 3 of the Federal Arbitration Act.
23.6 Arbitration Rules and Governing Law . This Arbitration Agreement evidences a transaction in interstate commerce and the Federal Arbitration Act governs all substantive and procedural interpretation and enforcement of this provision. The arbitration will be administered by AAA in accordance with the Consumer Arbitration Rules and/or other AAA arbitration rules determined to be applicable by the AAA (the “ AAA Rules “) then in effect, except as modified here. The AAA Rules are available at www.adr.org. In order to initiate arbitration, a completed written demand (available at www.adr.org) must be filed with the AAA and provided to the other party, as specified in the AAA rules.
23.7 Modification to AAA Rules - Arbitration Hearing/Location . In order to make the arbitration most convenient to you, Airbnb agrees that any required arbitration hearing may be conducted, at your option: (a) in the U.S. county where you reside; (b) in San Francisco County; © via phone or video conference; or (d) if all parties agree, by solely the submission of documents to the arbitrator.
23.8 Modification of AAA Rules - Attorney’s Fees and Costs . Your arbitration fees and your share of arbitrator compensation shall be governed by the AAA Rules and, where appropriate, limited by the AAA Consumer Rules. If such costs are determined by the arbitrator to be excessive, Airbnb will pay all arbitration fees and expenses. Either party may make a request that the arbitrator award attorneys’ fees and costs upon proving that the other party has asserted a claim, cross-claim or defense that is groundless in fact or law, brought in bad faith or for the purpose of harassment, or is otherwise frivolous, as allowed by applicable law and the AAA Rules.
23.9 Arbitrator’s Decision . The arbitrator’s decision will include the essential findings and conclusions upon which the arbitrator based the award. Judgment on the arbitration award may be entered in any court with proper jurisdiction. The arbitrator may award any relief allowed by law or the AAA Rules, but declaratory or injunctive relief may be awarded only on an individual basis and only to the extent necessary to provide relief warranted by the claimant’s individual claim.
23.10 Jury Trial Waiver . You and Airbnb acknowledge and agree that we are each waiving the right to a trial by jury as to all arbitrable Disputes.
23.11 No Class Actions or Representative Proceedings . You and Airbnb acknowledge and agree that, to the fullest extent permitted by law, we are each waiving the right to participate as a plaintiff or class member in any purported class action lawsuit, class-wide arbitration, private attorney general action, or any other representative or consolidated proceeding. Unless we agree in writing, the arbitrator may not consolidate more than one party’s claims and may not otherwise preside over any form of any class or representative proceeding. If there is a final judicial determination that applicable law precludes enforcement of the waiver contained in this paragraph as to any claim, cause of action or requested remedy, then that claim, cause of action or requested remedy, and only that claim, cause of action or requested remedy, will be severed from this agreement to arbitrate and will be brought in a court of competent jurisdiction. In the event that a claim, cause of action or requested remedy is severed pursuant to this paragraph, then you and we agree that the claims, causes of action or requested remedies that are not subject to arbitration will be stayed until all arbitrable claims, causes of action and requested remedies are resolved by the arbitrator.
23.12 Severability . Except as provided in Section 23.11, in the event that any portion of this Arbitration Agreement is deemed illegal or unenforceable, such provision will be severed and the remainder of the Arbitration Agreement will be given full force and effect.
23.13 Changes to Agreement to Arbitrate . If Airbnb changes this Section 23 after the date you last accepted these Terms (or accepted any subsequent changes to these Terms), you may reject that change by sending us written notice (including by email) within 30 days of the date the change is effective. Rejecting a new change, however, does not revoke or alter your prior consent to any earlier agreements to arbitrate any Dispute between you and Airbnb (or your prior consent to any subsequent changes thereto), which will remain in effect and enforceable as to any Dispute between you and Airbnb.
23.14 Survival . Except as provided in Section 23.12 and subject to Section 13.6, this Section 23 will survive any termination of these Terms and will continue to apply even if you stop using the Airbnb Platform or terminate your Airbnb account.