Just wanted to share a recent “extenuating circumstances” situation that has left us exasperated and out of pocket. Sorry if it is a bit long winded I will try to keep the details and timeline relevant.
Wife and I just started renting our whole house on an occasional basis. We price it high enough to make it “worth it” for us to be inconvenienced while guests stay. We have a small RV and many friends in the area so not difficult for us to make arrangements to driveway camp, or we’ll head out to one of the local state parks if the rental is over a weekend. Cancellation policy is set to “strict” with AirBnb.
Last week (Wednesday afternoon) we got an inquiry for a rental checking in the next day – Thursday – for 4 nights. Decided to go for it despite the short turnaround and said yes. Quickly made arrangements for a. three-hour house cleaner at 8 am Thursday morning; b. pet boarding (we have a dog and a cat) from Thursday - Monday; and c. driveway camping with nearby friends so that we could go to work and school (we have fifth grader) Friday and Monday as usual.
Come home from work on Wednesday night and we’re full blast getting the house ready: laundry, cleaning, pool service, taking clutter to garage etc. to make it look like the house in the photos. Get organized and packed and load up the van ready to leave the house Thursday morning not to return until Monday night. Send the guest an email with codes, instructions, rules, etc. (No response to the message.) Guest is driving here from out of state.
Thursday morning we roll out in the packed RV after letting the house cleaner in. Drop pets off at vet.
Late Thursday afternoon still had not heard from guest – this is past check-in – so wife sends them a message asking if they are settling in okay. In return gets a phone call at ~5pm saying that their service animal (which we had okayed staying at the house) had some sort of injury and they would not be making the trip after all and could they cancel. Wife tells them there will be a penalty and tells guest they will need to go through AirBnb to cancel.
Thursday night we hang out with our driveway friends past dinner but return to the house to sleep, worried that as no official cancellation has come through that they may decide to show up after all. They don’t, but we don’t unpack the RV that night and just sleep in our beds. Friday morning we still have not heard anything so we clean up and leave the house just as it was in case they arrive Friday during the day.
Payment clears Friday afternoon. Go home Friday – still no official cancellation – and find nobody there. Go pick up the dog and cat at the vet, unpack the RV, and move back in.
Saturday afternoon, finally, we get a message from the guest asking if we’d had any luck cancelling the reservation as he was not able to do so without losing his money. (Uh, yeah.) Again tell him that he needs to work through AirBnb on this, that we are not going to cancel it for him. He asks us for his money back and we (wife and I) discuss refunding some of it but decide to wait until AirBnb has processed the cancellation or if they offer us any guidance.
Yesterday (Monday) get an email from AirBnb Customer Experience saying that they have been contacted by the guest, that the guest had an issue with their service animal, and that they will cancel the reservation for us. Oh, and would we like to refund any or all of the guest’s money? They say they have asked the guest to provide documentation of the issue with the dog within 24 hours. We respond that we would like to wait and see what the documentation is before we decide if or what to refund to the guest.
So this morning we get another email from the Customer Experience rep, saying that the guest had provided “sufficient official documentation of his extenuating circumstance” and that “after further review and per our policy” they have refunded the guest in full and will be adjusting our account to reflect this.
Now I don’t want to seem mean or uncaring here, but huh?? What happened to the “strict” cancellation policy that we chose to prevent situations like this from happening? FWIW I don’t see pets mentioned in the AirBnb Extenuating Circumstances policy at all – the closest they come to this situation is “The guest has a serious illness or there’s a serious illness in their family”. A FULL refund? That seems more than a tad unfair to me, especially since we spend $145 on the cleaners and a little more than that on the pet boarding. Never mind the scramble to get the house ready in a few short hours and get organized to not be home for four days…
Sorry to ramble. Advice welcome. Going to discuss pulling our listing when we get home tonight – just doesn’t seem worth this sort of hassle.