AirBnB shenanigans - don't trust the records, take a copy of your screen!

Had a bad experience with AirBnB recently. We had a guest book in October for a stay in December. We were still in Covid-19 lockdown for everyone in October, and still will be for anyone not fully vaccinated in December. I immediately wrote to the guest and pointed out to them they had to be vaccinated, because it is a legal requirement that anyone who is not double vaccinated or has a medical exemption cannot travel or stay in a short-term rental. Our cancellation policy is strict, but the guest still had 48 hours in which they could have cancelled without penalty if they wanted to. They did not cancel at that point, but a few weeks later the guest admitted they were not vaccinated, but that they had hoped that the rules would be changed by the time of their stay. I told them they could either get vaccinated or get a medical exemption. I also told them they could defer their booking if they needed more time to do one or the other. They declined, and posted that they would cancel. The message thread then showed that the guest had cancelled.

When AirBnB requested I should refund the money because we had not told the guest in advance of the need to be vaccinated I pointed out that this was not up to me, it was a government requirement - widely publicized - over which we had no control, and that the guest should not have booked. AirBnB would not listen, so I shrugged and agreed to refund. Life is too short, I thought.

But I should have argued harder. A week later AirBnB pinged us with a cancellation penalty. Worse, they have now adjusted the records so it says the booking was cancelled by the host. Even though the last message from the guest is still there, saying they have to cancel because they are not vaccinated.

I rang AirBnB to complain. I told them while I had been happy to refund, I did not see why I should also be penalized when the guest made a booking that they subsequently realized would be against the law, and so they had to cancel. AirBnB argued, but eventually said they would review. Still waiting for the review.

The point of this is not that AirBnB eventually agreed to review their mistake, it is that AirBnB changed the records of the host/guest interaction to justify applying a penalty against the host when it was in the first instance the guest, and then in the second instance AirBnB themselves, who made the mistake.

I wish I had taken a screenshot of the interaction when it said that the guest had cancelled. I will do so for all cancellations and other disputes in future. AirBnB subsequently changing the records to say the host had cancelled makes me wonder what else they might get up to to justify their decisions and/or cover up their mistakes.

Not happy :frowning:


Just to clarify - did you get notification from Airbnb that the guest had cancelled?

Have had entire message threads from a potential booking disappear and been told by CSR that they never existed……

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Good thinking!

Yes, I did. The notification says the guest cancelled. But then apparently the guest complained to AirBnB that I was not accepting non-vaccinated guests. I explained to AirBnB that this was because we could not legally do so, nor could the guest legally travel or stay in a short-term rental and so should not have booked - but AirBnB didn’t seem to understand that, so I gave up on it and just authorized a full refund. I would have happily just put the whole thing behind me as indicating that AirBnB was not able to be across the details of Covid-19 restrictions in each country, but I was surprised sometime later see that AirBnB had deducted a penalty from my next payout and also changed the message thread to say that I had been the one who cancelled.

Oh - and I am not confident the review will go in my favour, because it is the same CSR who made the original mistake - and then changed the records - who is performing the review :frowning:

Just to annoy me even further, I just noticed that the dates of the booking are still blocked on our calendar. Because AirBnB thinks I cancelled it - which of course I did not - I apparently cannot unblock them.

Grrr! :frowning:

If you get denied again, then take it to Air’s Twitter feed. You should get action then.

And your tale is why I ALWAYS screenshot everything, and summarize with the Customer Disservice drone in an Air message after.

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“Told guest it’s illegal in my location to book without vaccination. Guest did not get vaxxed, later cancelled booking. Airbnb penalized me, the host, and blocked dates. I want dates unblocked & “cancelled by host” (not true) removed. I will NOT break the law for Airbnb.”


@rossh Why do you not have it written in your listing description that guests need to be vacccinated?


Just to clarify, CSRs don’t write reviews. The cancellation was well before the checkin date in December so the guest will not be prompted to review you. Plus, FYI, you’d know if they were invited to review you because the day after the stay was due to start you’d get an email promoting you to review the guest as well.

You mean after the check out, not after it was due to start.

Hmmmm, maybe it varies by circumstance because I got the prompt to review my cancelled stay the day after the stay was due to start. It was a Friday - Monday stay that was cancelled before the checkin time Friday and I got the review prompt on Saturday. :thinking:

Maybe a “same day as checkin” cancel is treated like they stayed 1 day???

Ah yes, that makes sense. A last minute cancellation would be prompted to review after the check in day.

Airbnb and guests go by what is in your listing and rules. With the shoe on the other foot, imagine you are a guest and after booking a stay, are told that you are now required to pay $500, or required to be an opera singer?


It is not my requirement that guests be vaccinated. It is mandatory here that you be vaccinated if you want to stay in short term rental accommodation.

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The guests knew they needed to be vaccinated. They wrote when they cancelled that they had expected the rules to be changed in time for their stay, but they were not.

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Sorry, I didn’t mean guest review - I meant AirBnB’s review of the CSR decision to penalize me for a guest cancelling their booking.

Therefore, as far as the guests are concerned, it is your requirement. If it’s required for everyone in the area, that includes you so it should be in your listing - you’d have saved yourself a lot of bother if it had been.

The guest is looking at listings on Airbnb and your listing - not on the government site or whichever authority mandates vaccinations.

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The rules here are too long and complicated to summarize on a listing, and also they change frequently. They also depend on guest home location and family status. For example, it is NOT required that guests be vaccinated if they live locally, or are holidaying only with members of their immediate family.

I don’t expect AirBnB to be across all the details of all the rules in all the countries they operate. But I also don’t expect them to penalize hosts for enforcing the rules when the hosts are legally obliged to do so.

To reiterate an earlier point - the guest knew when they booked they would be unable to stay under the rules in force at the time of their booking. They said that they were hoping the rules would change before their actual stay, but they did not. So they had to cancel. And yet I was the one who ended up being penalized for that :frowning:

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Therefore, as far as the guests are concerned, it is your requirement. If it’s required for everyone in the area, that includes you so it should be in your listing - you’d have saved yourself a lot of bother if it had been.

The guest is looking at listings on Airbnb and your listing - not on the government site or whichever authority mandates vaccinations.

As I explained, it is NOT our requirement, and it is NOT required for everyone to be vaccinated.

Also, the guests KNEW they were booking in contravention of the rules - they even said so. They just didn’t bother telling me that until it came to the point that they had to cancel.


Gotcha. You can request to escalate. Especially if this is just some first level CSR. Just have your evidence ready to logically and concisely make your case. I just recently had a decision go my way that I’d called on & been denied 3 times previously.

  1. You informed guest w/i free cancellation window. You can prove this from the Air msg thread.
  1. Guest purposely chose to let free cancellation window expire. Again, in thread.

It’s clear you did not need to cancel for the guest, and therefore you did not. You had 0 reason to do so. You only verbally authorized a guest cancelled full refund, which would not have been necessary had you been the one who cancelled. CS made an error in the way THEY cancelled the reservation. There should be record that THEY called YOU.

If they cannot even travel to your country/area how can they get to the point of staying with anyone such that it’s your issue, unless they lie to the government? I assume they couldn’t even have gotten into the country?

That being said, I agree to save yourself headaches you need a bold warning in your listing for people to check the government travel requirements & you recommend travel insurance as you cannot be responsible for changing restrictions.

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