Be Weary of the Reservation Change, Cancellation Scam

These days, it’s not uncommon to have a more stricter cancellation policy, especially if you are working with international travelers.

People change their minds a lot about their bookings, especially if they are planning international travel and they read all kinds of things in the news, much of which is not necessarily accurate, before they pull the trigger on their trips.

We’ve adopted over the past year a more stricter cancellation policy simply as a matter of protection for financial loss during these uncertain times but we’re finding that guests will still look for “loopholes” to get out of their commitments with us.

Recently, we had a guest that made a booking with us at least 6 months prior decide that they didn’t want to travel for one reason or another a month before their stay. This happens now and then and typically we aren’t able to rebook for the period because of the complexities of international travel—it’s much more difficult these days for “last minute travelers” to make bookings and arrange trips. We all know this.

Because our cancellation policy was a little stricter than the typical “easy going” policy, our guest’s cancellation wouldn’t trigger a full refund but more of a partial refund. They weren’t happy about this and in the end found a way to get around our policy to maximize their refund.

After trying every option, they sent us in a change request to shorten their days of stay, which I accepted at the time assuming that they were acting in good faith and that they finally worked out their issues and were really planning on making their trip after all. I should have known better and not agreed to this but times are tough and travel is kind of challenging right now. So we gave in and accepted the change request.

Very soon after we agreed to the reservation change they turned around and put in a full cancellation. Basically what they were doing here was getting around the cancellation policy so that they would have fewer days to actually cancel and maximize their refund, The thread of communications they provided made this very clear after the dust all settled.

The troubling part is that we brought the issue up with Airbnb management, which took quite a bit more effort on our part. They agreed with us that what took place wasn’t right but told us that we were out of luck and that there was nothing that they would be able to do.

I always wondered about this loophole. I’ve always been a little weary when guests send in a reservation change request to substantially change the dates of their stay. I always thought in theory that a guest could change their stay and then turn around and cancel to lessen their exposure. Sure enough, now I know it can happen, and does happen.

We at least hoped that Airbnb would have our back here. Nope. Airbnb’s priority is to let the guests do what they want and not protect the host.

My experience here has now taught me to not allow any reservation changes when guests want to reduce their stay. This is unfortunate.


Thanks for reminding newcomers. We’ve warned about it many, many times. It’s just one of the many reasons why spending some time reading the forum will save a new host time, money and frustration.

*also, it’s wary, not weary.

wary=feeling or showing caution about possible dangers or problems

Though actually yes, we should be weary of it as well. LOL. :rofl:


I do not accept reservation changes, add a guest and the EC policy exposure doubles. Change dates and they can cancel.

I just say no, sorry but our policy does not allow for changes to confirmed reservations.



“Sorry, but we cannot accommodate a reservation change at this date. Please cancel your reservation and re-book for your preferred dates.”

And, if you’re feeling nice:

“Should you cancel without re-booking, we offer a partial refund if your original dates are booked by another party.”

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This (and variations of it) has been going on in the hospitality industry for years. New or would-be hosts would be wise to read through this forum (not a quick job, I know) to familiarise themselves with these loopholes.

As @KKC says:

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I recently had a guest that really wanted to add to their reservation and since I know of this above scam/trick, I had to think about how to do this.

Here’s what you do.
Ask the guest to send an inquiry (Not a request to book), then you can send an offer equal to the cost of the night without the cleaning feel. Then the guest accepts. It’s technically a separate reservation but of course the guest doesn’t have to check out.


Can you explain this? Are you saying if someone simply asks to mod a res to add an additional guest that impacts the cancellation policy in some way? I missed that one somewhere!

When someone has added a person I’ve always just sent a request for funds w/o changing the reservation but I was not aware I was dodging any potential issues.

I think he’s referring to someone in the party getting sick or having a death in the family. So now your guest says “We have to cancel because my friend’s mother died.” However, the EC policy has been changed in the last year and that’s technically not supposed to be an issue any longer, for the guest of anyone in the booked party.


I did not realize that. I had AirBnb coach a guest to add his GF so they could cancel under EC a couple of years ago. I caught on and did not click accept.



I had a similar issue a couple of years ago. Also with a girlfriend and an EC cancelation. Her grandmother’s cousin’s friend had knee surgery or a tattoo or something :roll_eyes: I wasn’t hip yet and lost out on that one.


Gotcha. Thanks. I’ve had that twice. Fortunately the first time I allowed them to reschedule & they did come. The second time they decided to come after reviewing my policy and the EC (sure they saw they didn’t qualify).

I still hate that Air CS will encourage the guest to try to get you to go against your policy.

Like the rest, I do the “reimburse if I rebook” deal. Although I think it was @muddy or you @KKC who said they charge 100% for the first day (no reimbursement) to compensate for the work already done to prep for the cancelled guest. For me, it’s also a decent cost…of time & gas, etc, so that’s going to be my deal now.


It was me who suggested there be a nominal charge. I wasn’t thinking of an entire night’s charge, but more like $25-30 standard charge for cancellations to cover all the time spent answering their initial questions, etc, and then having to deal with their cancellation.

I’ve long wanted to do this in my upholstery business, but never have. When someone wants an estimate, I have to go to their home, confer with them about what they want, measure, then come home and work up an estimate. It isn’t like a construction estimate, which tend to conform to some per sq. ft. standards, because the fabrics and foam come in specific widths, so I have to draw it out on graph paper seeing the best way to fit the pieces I need to cut onto the fabric. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle.

So an average estimate takes me about 2 hours from the time I go their home.

The vast majority of my clients know my work, are after a quality job, don’t pinch pennies, and follow through after I give them the estimate.

But there have been a few times, and I can now spot these people almost right away, who expect me to do all this work and then flake out. Those are the ones who I want to charge for an estimate.

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I can’t get over how many (and I mean several) contractors, mostly landscaping, who will come out to see the job and then never get back to me with the estimate.

I’m left calling over and over in limbo as I don’t want to bring another out & waste their time if I’m hiring this other one.

I’ve also had the ones who come out, ghost, finally get back to me but have to come out and measure again because they can’t find their notes. Really!?!

Guess it goes both ways.

I don’t mind the plumber model where I pay for them to come out and it goes to the project cost if I hire them else they got paid for the the time come bid the job.

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Yes, that last model you gave, where the initial cost of the estimate isn’t charged if you proceed to hire them for the work is what I feel is fair. But these people who take up everyone’s time getting 3 or 4 estimates, paying for no one’s time, isn’t fair at all.

It’s like the guests who send out a list of questions in an inquiry to 15 hosts they’ve “shortlisted”, everyone takes the time to answer them, only to never hear from them again, not even a thank you.


There’s a host who just posted recently on the CC- had a terrible guest who left a 1*, lying review, then told Airbnb she would ask to have the review removed if he would refund her in full. The Airbnb rep actually messaged him asking if he would agree to do this- i.e., condoning and facilitating extortion.

He persistently pursued this and Airbnb finally removed the review themselves.

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I work in the construction business as well as STR, and I can tell you that we dearly wish it only took 2 hours or less to work up a bid for a client. It takes us 3 weeks of calling subcontractors & suppliers, waiting for their responses, and compiling the whole thing into a proposal for the client.

So I’m sympathetic to the problem of clients who ask for a bid and don’t respect the time that takes. :slight_smile: Or to hosts who have to deal with high maintenance would-be guests who don’t actually produce any income.

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It’s ridiculous that AirBnB didn’t just remove the review without the persistence of the host. Thank you for the reminder that sometimes hosts have to stick up for themselves in the face of what should be done seems obvious to everyone but AirBnB.

very good advice. we’ve been hosting for just over a year, we had a soft start last year, then took a break when we did a LTR, back again for the summer (sthn hem), but i’ve been reading the forums randomly all year. There’s been heaps of good tips in here. thanks to all for your input, even the disagreements have been useful, to remind us all how different we are.


yes, sometimes i feel this way too. I didn’t want to have to push my cancellation policy to 5 days, but i recently have done that after we had 3 cancellations in 1 day, that were @35hrs before the arrival date. I was being very understanding of covid rules (state borders still being very tight here, and travellers are on edge about if they will get through) but i feel like (local) people have taken advantage of that.

Yes, I wasn’t suggesting that it took less time to do a construction estimate, but that the calculations are different. For building, depending on the building materials used, you can multiply the square footage by the cost of materials and come up with an estimate for that. You attach one piece of lumber to another, you cement one cement block to another.

You can’t do that with a sewing project. I can’t sew one piece of fabric to another in the middle of a seat cushion- I have to figure out how many seat cushion pieces can fit across the width of the fabric being used. Just being 2cm short of being able to get 2 seat cushion pieces across the width means I’d have to add more to the length of fabric I’d need. So when clients ask me for a “ballpark” amount, I can’t do that at all without first doing a layout on graph paper and only after that do the math to figure out how many meters of fabric will be needed. Even though I have made hundreds of seat cushions.

I understand that in construction, if you don’t handle all aspects of a project yourself, you would need to get quotes from subcontractors, like plumbers, electricians, and drywall boarders.

I have a friend who went to school for a year to be a construction estimator. I know it’s not some simple job.