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Do I have to give a refund?


#1

My guest arrived today, but as soon as she got in she says she got a call saying her mom was taken to hospital and had to go home.
I have a strict cancellation policy and she has asked for a refund. Do I have to give her one? She was supposed to stay for two weeks so it’s not a small sum.of money.
Thanks for the help!


#2

I would not give her a refund. It is the traveler’s responsibility to purchase their own individual trip cancellation insurance. It’s too bad Air does not encourage traveler’s to do this.

There is an extenuating circumstances policy where Air overrides your cancellation policy. Just google it and you will see if it applies to your guest. I would NOT mention this to your guest. This is what I would do:

I would tell guest that you cannot refund as you haven’t even been paid and Air holds the money. Ask them if they happened to use a credit card for payment that has trip cancellation insurance. AMEX sometimes has this. I would then tell the guest that you can re-open the dates and you will refund any dates of the two weeks that you rent out and will personally send her a check. Tell her you can send her the money for the cleaning fee.

I have had guests want to cancel due to hurricane in their town, death of a close friend etc. and I just told them I would re-open the dates and see what I could collect. And then I will refund money back - but no guarantee that anything can be re-rented so late. Sometimes guest are just testing to see if they can get out of stay


#3

She has to remember that you have had two weeks blocked from your calendar from others booking. Even if she didn’t expect this to happen…how can she expect you to give up half a month’s worth of income?


#4

No… Don’t offer to refund. A hotel wouldn’t. Yes it’s sad about her mom, but being a host who has heard more than a few stories about supposed sudden deaths of relatives, sad to say I don’t believe them.

Cabin is right. Even if you wanted to you haven’t been paid yet. So I would just tell her sorry, and sorry about her mom but no refunds.


#5

That’s what I was thinking as well. Airbnb is part of my income and I’m sorry she had to go home but, not to sound like a b*@&h, it’s not my problem.

I had booked a night somewhere before but the bus company that was supposed to drive me there canceled the stop. I didn’t get a refund but he offered me a free stay if I was ever back again.

Maybe that would work here to?


#6

WOW!! Apparently she has contacted Airbnb for a refund and is now saying she left because of a cleanliness issue!!
My place is almost SPOTLESS!! I am absolutely stunned. If she was worried about something she should have just asked me about it.
This is definitely a first for me.


#7

I never give refunds in cases like that. The suggestion of asking the guest to check if their credit card has trip insurance was an excellent one! Because it deflects the problem from you and Airbnb to the credit card company. Brilliant! The guest may then focus their time and energy on checking about the trip insurance and forget about asking Airbnb for a refund!

Usually when I’ve had guests do this, I don’t respond it all. It’s like I totally disappeared from the picture. Sometimes they will then take it up with Airbnb, and other times they’ll just drop it. If they do take it up with Airbnb, Airbnb will then send me a message about it. If it is the kind of extenuating circumstance that Airbnb would give a refund for, I will ask Airbnb to get proof from the guest that the situation actually occurred. They’ve been pretty good about doing this.

But in your case, if all correspondence was done through Airbnb, they can read through the messages and when they see that she told you the story about her mom and that she told them the story about your place not being clean, they’ll see the discrepancy and assume she’s lying. I’ve found them to be pretty good on things like that. I doubt they’ll give her the refund.

Also, if she’s claiming your place was so dirty, they’ll see that she never mentioned that to you in a message. And they’ll also take note that she didn’t send any photos of your supposedly dirty place.

That’s one reason to always keep your communications with the guests on anything substantive within the Airbnb system. If the guest asks you for a refund in person, document it for Airbnb by sending them a message through the Airbnb system, acknowledging that they made the request and explaining the reason for your denial. Then let Airbnb ask them for the proof that this extenuating circumstance actually occurred. And let Airbnb read through your messages to get to the truth of the matter. They do read through our messages when a dispute like this arises. And it’s good to document any evidence by sending messages to the guest.

In your case, if she asked for the refund in person, if you had sent her a message saying you can’t refund her because you have the strict cancellation policy, then when Airbnb reads through the messages, they’ll see that before they told them your place was a mess, that she had asked you for a refund for an entirely different reason.


#8

Thanks JonYork!
She asked about a refund in person and on Airbnb.
When I responded to her message, I first asked her about her mom and told her I hoped her mom was ok. Then I told her that I have a strict cancellation policy and that I couldn’t give her a refund.
Two hours later I got the email from Airbnb saying she wanted a refund. He said she had taken pics and attached them to the email (which he didn’t) and said whatever was in the pics might have been dog hair. Depending on what the pics were of it could have been! I clearly list that I have two dogs and asked her over message as well if she was ok with them. But they don’t go in the guest room (which I never mention!) so I don’t know what she could have been taking pics of. And I swept and washed the floor a couple hours before she arrived so that’s plenty of time for one of the two to scratch and get some hair on the floor.
I replied to the email with pics of my own of my entire place and offered to Skype or video chat so they could see my place for themselves.
Now I’m waiting for a reply back.
My place is pretty damn spotless and I have a 4.5 star rating for my listings. Plus I’ve been doing this over 1.5 years, have plenty of reviews and am booked solid till February. So I think that looks good on me as well.
Plus ya, then she lied as well. Why didn’t she just bring up an issue if she had one?
Fingers crossed that Airbnb is on my side here.


#9

Well, please, definitely let us know what Airbnb does. You did everything in exactly the right way it sounds like. If I worked for Airbnb and saw the message to you about her mother and the message to Airbnb about dirt, I would be immediately suspicious. Then I would look at your other reviews to see if anyone else ever complained about dirt. And I would want to see your recent photos. If all that checked out, I would rule in your favor.

Airbnb really should promote trip insurance more to save us all from these types of situations.


#10

Wondering if I should send her a message outlining things. Saying I got an email from Airbnb about her wanting a refund, that it’s unfortunate she felt she had to lie about why she left and that if she would have brought an issue up to me I’d have taken care of it.
I haven’t said anything since I told her I wasnt going to give a refund (which was hours before the Airbnb email).


#11

First, sorry you are going through this.

I would personally wait. Stay as neutral and professional as possible (although I don’t blame you for wanting to call her out on her BS)

As mentioned earlier, you did the right thing by messaging her via airbnb and showing empathy regarding her mother being ill.

AirBNB SHOULD be able to see the discrepancy between what she told you and what she told them and side with you. Especially since the guest never mentioned the cleanliness issue to you directly, therefore not giving you an opportunity to remedy the situation.

Hopefully airbnb will side with you as clearly she is lying.

Please do keep us posted on what happens.


#12

This girl is terrible. I know you have it in the messaging system about her mom…BUT did you direct the Airbnb reps. to this conversation and explicitly tell them that the girl made up the cleanliness issue after you told her you couldn’t refund?? I hope so. I wouldn’t expect the reps to be bright enough to figure it out themselves. Please keep us posted.


#13

Did you tell the reps. that the room is always closed off so that the dogs do not enter it? The girl could have easily pulled a few strands of her own hair and cut them up, and then took a pic. People put their own hair on plates of restaurant food just to get fee meals - right when they only have 3 bites of food left.


#14

So it’s been about 24hours since I received the email from the Airbnb rep about the complaint and refund.

I have replied to his email, telling him exactly what happened (she told me her mom was sick but is telling Airbnb is was an issue with cleanliness and never mentioned it at all to me). Have sent him current photos of my place and even called to make sure they knew how serious I am about the complaint (didn’t get to talk to the rep in charge of this case but did have a note written in the file that I called).

Anyhow, I’m still waiting on a reply, however, I did get an email that the payment for her stay has gone through and will be in my account in a few days. Not sure if that’s a sign, but fingers crossed!


#16

I’m not saying there isn’t pet hair in my house.
I have two dogs, ofcourse there is going to be dog hair.
But if she had an issue with that then she shouldn’t have inquired and booked my place. It’s in the listing that I have two dogs and I even double check via message that they are ok with them.
I don’t put in my listing that the dogs don’t go in the guest room, however I do make sure the door is always closed and I do keep them out. It’s for that reason alone, that walking through from the front door to the room they could track hair in that I don’t list it.


#17

She has no grounds for a refund so I hope Air backed you. Let us know what transpires.


#18

UPDATE!!
So I heard back from airbnb and I will not be required to give her a refund.
If there is a refund given he said it would be done on there end.
So happy to hear that!


#19

Holy cow! That’s outrageous.


#20

AWESOME! Glad they did the right thing.


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