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Expert-host advice needed:

We had a situation where guests were here 8 nights. They booked a shuttle to our area, but did not book one back.

They had an early flight out and would have missed it if they tried to book another shuttle. We erroneously told them an earlier public bus was leaving the area, and it was the only way to make their flight.

Prior to leaving, the error was discovered, and we had to book them a private shuttle to the tune of $260. The $50/each shuttle MIGHT have gotten them to the airport in time.

They are asking for $160 reimbursement to cover the difference.

Ultimately, I am not a travel agent and these are adults who made no arrangements of their own. But, my error likely caused them an expensive solution.

The reimbursement they are asking for is a whopping 68% of what we earned for their stay.

These guests were treated extremely well - welcome snack, little snacks like ceviche and homemade cake, free beer, about a dozen phone calls to help them with tours, etc.

Thoughts?

There are two possible outcomes from this:

  1. You pay them $160 in real money and basically provide them with a free vacation
  2. You keep your hard-earned money and they maybe say a few not nice words on the internet

It is unfortunate that you were not able to provide the best advice to them, since part of the Airbnb experience is the local knowledge. On the other hand, it’s advice, not a travel agent job. It is ultimately the guests’ own fault for not booking earlier or making their own arrangements. When I am a traveler I always verify my reservations, because sometimes stupid things happen.

Can Airbnb force you to reimburse them? I know they can force a refund on a cancellation, but this is a cost outside of the Airbnb purview. If Airbnb cannot make you pay them, then do not give them any money. If they leave you a nasty review, this would be the time to reply “guests did not make their own travel arrangements and expected host to pay for their mistake” or something similar.

Remember the old adage: lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.

7 Likes

Thanks, Artemis. They left us a 5-star review, as we did them. They were really nice people and we felt really bad, which is why we gave them some free beverages, red-tuna ceviche, a snack-bag for their return trip and spent 40 minutes to get them a shuttle at the last minute.

Appreciate your response.

1 Like

I’m glad they left you a good review. It’s hard when people are nice and you feel sorry for them … but this is also your business and you do it to make money. Maybe you could offer them travel credit if they ever return? It shows goodwill and doesn’t cost you anything unless they use it.

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I have every sympathy with your situation but my feeling is that the moment you gave advice on their transfer back to the airport, you did take on the responsibility for that advice being accurate. I think it’s generally safer to give very general advice and then point guests in the direction of where they can find the information for themselves.

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Thanks Geddy. We are new to Airbnb and the lessons never end. I won’t give that kind of advice again.

But question is, do they deserve a 68% refund for an 8 night stay?

Perezo,

I am not following the story. I am missing something.

You say the $50/each shuttle might have gotten them to the airport on time. What exactly was the error with the bus? Was the wrong time given? Was a public bus available to take them to the airport?

Oh I don’t know… Too many questions! If we forget about the bus mistake for a moment, at the point when it came to light that they hadn’t yet booked any transport back to the airport, what were there options? Was there an option available that would have been cheaper than the $260?

Hi Cabinet Host - The earliest shared shuttle leaves at 6:30 and, barring traffic accidents, road closures, etc., they likely would have made their flight. It was full for the morning they were leaving and the only option was to take a private shuttle.

There was a 6am public bus that would have gotten them to the capitol (and then a taxi to the airport), but that bus was discontinued and I didn’t know. The earliest is in fact 7:30 a.m., and they would have missed their flight if they had taken it. I completely acknowledge the error on our part.

Thanks for the additional info. But I must still be missing something.

If the shared shuttle was already full, then that wasn’t even an option for them…correct?? Or are they saying that they could have booked the shared shuttle earlier, had they not relied on the public bus info?

So at the point when you suggests the bus, it was already too late and they had no choice but to take the $260 shuttle right?

There only option was the private shuttle at $260. They would otherwise have missed their flights.

Correct, the shared shuttle was full. The could have booked it earlier, at $100 instead of $260, if we’d not given them the wrong bus time.

Ok…what a sucky predicament to be in.

If you decide to give anything back at all, I would only split the cost - considering you already provided them complimentary food, beers, snack bag back to the airport, calling tours for them etc.

  1. Did they tell you why they chose not to pre- book the shuttle? Is it because they wanted to see if you knew of cheaper methods?

  2. How do you know that the shuttle bus wasn’t already full, before they even asked you about the bus info?

I think timing is important here.

When did they decide to book the shuttle back? When did you tell them about the bus?
The day they arrived, or the day before they left?

If they did not book because you told them about the bus when they arrived, I can understand them.

If they decided last minute and you had to find a solution for them, it’s their own fault.

2 Likes

Hi Cabinethost,

  1. I don’t know why they only booked their shuttle one way. I asked them a couple of days in if it was they had booked return transportation, and then offered the wrong information.

  2. I don’t know the shuttle was not already full. I only know it was when I called the company the afternoon prior to their departure and they said it was full.

They didn’t book because I told them one of the shuttles would not get them to the airport in time, and the other might, depending on how many other tourists they were picking up (as we know, this can take 1-2 hours extra if various passengers aren’t ready, the driver cannot find them, etc.)

Ultimately I take responsibility for giving them the incorrect time of the bus. We’re in the Central American Caribbean and things change all the time and we do not always find out about it.

Do you personally think it’s fair to offer to split the extra $160 they paid? We’re just a little cabin on the beach…

Maybe offer to pay $80. I think it would be a bit mean of them to not accept that offer. It’s not as though you’re some big corporation!!

1 Like

Oh, yuck, what a horrible situation to be in …

I think, though, that you need to take the length of stay and the percentage of the income that you would lose out of the equation. An action is not more wrong or more right according to the cost involved.

I’m thinking that if I were staying in a hotel and the clerk told me that the public bus was running and would get me to the airport I’d take this as pretty official and would certainly expect a refund of the extra cost from the hotel. You’re not a hotel clerk, of course, but in some ways , whether we like it or not, guests do see us as having “official” information. Of course they SHOULD have checked this themselves after you told them, but I’m not sure I would have done so (although The Husband says he would have …!.)

This was quite a lot of money for the guests to lose, and I think you will feel better about this and about yourself if you offer a substantial amount of the sum. I agree with @Geddy3, offer 50%. And look on it as a great Learning Experience - ugh!

3 Likes

I agree with this, also. Although the original crisis was not your fault, the second crisis (no public bus) was. I would hate to be in your shoes, and doing something like this does make me very nervous. I think we can all feel that wrenching-in-the-stomach pain you must have felt when discovering your error.

Apologize, offer 50%. It may still get ugly. Give it some real time of meditation, prayer, consideration, whatever…before you approach them with the offer. Don’t be surprised if they snarl at you - money ruins the closest of relationships all the time. But be very confident of what YOU believe is the right thing to do. The chips will fall where they may - that’s unavoidable. But, walking away in peace knowing that YOU did what you believed was right, that is in your control.

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