Be Weary of the Reservation Change, Cancellation Scam

I want to let all AirBNB hosts know that this cancellation / modify dates scam happened to us too and want to explain how it happened.

  • First off if you are a host and someone wants to modify their dates - DO NOT ACCEPT IT *

We had a guest book one of our houses starting January 2023, for 6 months. We received the new reservation confirmation from the guest and were in talks with him over a month and a half after he made his reservation. The house was booked for Jan 2023 until June 2023 in our calendar for him…so no one else was able to book it.

After 1 month and a half of his initial reservation and him paying Airbnb over $10,000 USD for the reservation…he asked us if he could cancel. We reminded him of the strict cancellation policy on airbnb that we had set. A day later he said if he can’t cancel, can he at least modify the dates as his brother has chemo. We felt bad so we accepted his date change request. Not even a minute later, we receive an airbnb cancellation email that he cancelled his whole reservation.

The email said the guest would receive a refund of $9000 and we would only receive $1000. Confused, I looked up on Google what happened and came across this website. I can’t believe it. So I contacted airbnb support and for 2 days they kept playing dumb. Once this reservation got modified then cancelled…in their system it shows the same 184 days booked but the $50 per night got lowered to $8 per night, so their system shows that the guest only paid $1200 and was refunded $300 and we would get the remaining $800. They kept saying that I was wrong and that the guest never paid $10,000 + and asked us to prove it. So I sent them the original booking email which had the breakdown. They kept playing dumb. Then finally I got it bumped up in the support line and this is what they said:

"Yes, I saw the screenshot. When you accepted the alteration request, that made these changes to apply.

This is the reason why we always refer all our guest to get the Host approval for any alteration to avoid this to happen."

Then said this…

“I understand, and we will make sure to further investigate this internally.”

Now, I do not even care about the money, I just want them to fix this glitch. Because what someone could do if they wanted is to book all of their competitions rooms for all of next year and raise their prices in one area so everyone has to book with them. Then a week before the reservations in all the other hotels begins…ask to change dates then cancel and get 90% of your refund back. Meanwhile they increased rates 50%…great way to take out competition. This is a serious glitch and they need to fix this or show on their site that if a guest modifies the dates of their reservation, that they can cancel and get 90% back.

So everyone be aware of this. Do not accept any modified date requests from any guests!

If they wanted to extend their stay, is there a risk in that?

Good point. I had not considered that.

The EC doesn’t apply to a death in the family. But if the Host permits a guest to be added and that one guest experiences an EC event ( Changes to government travel requirements, Declared emergencies and epidemics, Government travel restrictions, Military actions and other hostilities, Natural disasters) then @RiverRock 's point that EC risk doubles stands.

You make, of course, the good point that with EC exceptions narrower (e.g., excluding death in family) that the overall risk of an EC is low.

But adding a guest does increase it. If the reservation were for one guest it does double an admittedly low risk.

One thing you need to be aware of is that a host’s normal cancellation policy is not in play for long term bookings- your strict cancellation policy is not in effect for bookings over 28 days. Long-term bookings automatically use the Airbnb Long Term booking cancellation policy.

That, however, is a different issue from savvy, scammy guests using the alteration request to cancel and get a full refund. This is a known issue and not one that Airbnb considers to be a glitch. Hosts should always decline an alteration request if they suspect the guest may be trying to pull this trick.

Also, taking 6 month bookings through Airbnb is a bad idea- you have none of the protections that landlords normally use when taking on a tenant, (after a month, they are no longer guests, but tenants, under landlord/tenant acts, and you would have to go through lengthy eviction process to get objectionable tenants out), so in a way, you dodged a bullet here. And hopefully there is enough time left for you to get the cancelled dates rebooked.

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Better to say this:

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

Rationale: To prevent the scam of a friend making the booking. Plus, you want to wait until the stay is completed to make sure you’ve received all the funds. Your words ‘partial refund’ hopefully captures the idea that you are not refunding Airbnb fees and also that if you rebook at a lower rate or are required to provide a refund to the new booking guest that you can reduce the refund by that amount since you wisely don’t define ‘partial refund.’ I do wonder if it would be better to add ‘in our discretion.’

What do you think?


Airbnb will not allow the same guest to book multiple properties for the same dates. They implemented this a couple years ago when savvy guests would book 2 or 3 properties while “shopping” to hold them, then cancel the ones they decided they didn’t want within the 48 hour free cancellation period.

If the guest did manage to book multiple properties for an extended period months in advance, when they cancel , they forfeit their Airbnb booking fees which can be a substantial amount.

In the USA (some other countries too) there are now 2 LTR cancellation policies. The host selects the one for their rental.

  1. Strict-Pay first 30 days of booking. If cancelled 30 days or more prior to stay, still pay the first 30 days. Cancel during stay, pay 30 past cancellation date or to end of stay.
  2. Flexible- If cancel 30 days prior to stay full refund except for Airbnb fees

@surfranch glad you are here. This is a great site for learning some of the quirks of how Airbnb works.

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We are in the bathroom remodeling business and after all the wasted time of doing free estimates we decided to charge. If local, it was a flat charge of $25., if not, we charged $1.00 per mile. If they decided to buy at time of the quote and were local, the full $25 would be put to the purchase. If charged per mile, we would apply 1/2 towards the purchase.
We sold 100% of our sales calls! No more come take a look at my bathroom and then “we have to think about it.” We were afraid to charge at first but no one balked.


I applaud your decision to charge for the estimate and credit it toward the actual installation.

The pricing of the job is actually of great value in itself.

As homeowners we often have a wish list but don’t know the price tag, so we’re not informed, so we can’t prioritize.

What’s more there’s always more than one way to skin a cat. In pricing a project key elements of design are identified – the ‘stakes’ of the job get decided.

Not the particular pattern of tile, but whether it’s tile or something else, whether there are grab bars and how many, a niche - how many, how big, perhaps the plumbing itself – will one line feed everything or multiple lines?

Congratulations on selling 100% of your sales calls. You must be good designers!