Host cancellation fee

A week ago I got a request for a reservation (I just have one room in my house for guests) for one night in September. As my airbnb calendar showed it was free, I accepted, and went to put the reservation on my own personal calendar, only to realise it was for the day my sister arrives for a visit, so it wasn’t actually free. (I know - in future I’ll coordinate my calendars better!) So two minutes after I accepted the reservation, I cancelled it and explained to the guest. The airbnb penalty for this error is almost as much as that one night’s reservation.
I also explained the circumstance to airbnb but they just keep saying it doesn’t come under their extenuating circumstances category so the penalty stands. I know it doesn’t, but doesn’t airbnb have anybody sympathetic to hosts who can waive it? Nobody was inconvenienced in any way, it just feels like a rip-off. I feel sure it wasn’t like this when I was hosting four years ago, they used to be helpful!

Do not expect to get any reasonable help from Airbnb customer service these days. CS has gone steadily downhill, with untrained reps who know less about Airbnb policy than most hosts do, often give out incorrect information, send useless links to Help articles, and often can’t even understand an issue.

That isn’t to say that you can’t get helpful responses- I certainly have, but it’s a crap shoot, dependent on the rep you happen to get.

All that said, many policies have changed in the past 4 years, so I’d advise you to familiarize yourself with all the current policies.

Yes, it seems ridiculous that there is no grace period for a cancellation, especially if it is made within a short time frame of a booking being confirmed, when the check-in date is 2 months in the future, but if it’s any consolation, guests have also been penalized, in the form of losing their payment or deposit, when trying to cancel a booking they may have only made 10 minutes earlier.

What you could have done was immediately message the guest, if they were still eligible for a full refund, apologized profusely, explaining why you can’t host them then, and asked them to cancel from their end.
However, this is not really kosher, as it was your lack of attention to your calendar that was the issue. Unfortunate, but expensive lesson learned.


They’re out to make money and they’ll get their fees from the guest or host if he/she cancels. It’s business and they’re very cut throat about it. In the future ask guest to cancel instead of you cancelling, if you have the flexible cancellation policy.

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Yes thanks… lesson learned indeed. I could probably have invented an extenuating circumstance too, but I do everything above board so it really gets under my skin when honesty doesn’t actually pay!


Hard to invent an extenuating circumstance. They require proof.

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it sucks but if you think from the guest’s perspective, they did all the searching/shortlisting to book a place and they have to do some of the work again to find an acceptable place. This can be difficult for people on a tight budget or with very specific requirements. The guest went through some inconvenience for sure.


This doesn’t help you now but I probably would have contacted some other local hosts to find alternative accommodations for the guest, contacted the guest, told them I had an issue (unspecified) that has come up, and asking if they would do me the great favor of staying at the other location. I would make up the difference if the price was greater. This might involve me making a non-kosher third party booking with the substitute host or otherwise working around the system so it is transparent to the guest.

Kind of like, “sorry your room is not available, we are giving you a free upgrade.”

I made this sort of offer once when my A/C was out; the guest chose to stay with me but appreciated the option. I have also considered booking a hotel for a guest and eating any difference when there was a water main break.

Or, put sis in a hotel or on an air mattress for one night. My friends and family know I’m running a business and that my suite won’t always be available to them, either due to occupancy by paying guests or limits on personal use for tax reasons.


I suppose… but the inconvenience didn’t arise from my cancellation of the booking, he would have done all the research anyway. He’d request the booking, I’d say sorry it’s not available, and he’d move on to his next option. I answered very fast anyway - I always do because I know when I’m booking somewhere to stay I want to know quickly whether it’s accepted or rejected. (I don’t have instant booking on my listing, I need to check people out before I accept them)

All good suggestions, but actually not worth it for the amount of money involved - the penalty was in the region of 50 euros. It’s not so much the financial loss that riles me, it’s the lack of personal customer service from airbnb, enforcing the rules willy-nilly and sending me their stock answer over and over again…
It was a question of minutes between me accepting the request and me cancelling it. The guest was probably still browsing around the airbnb site in case his request wasn’t accepted!

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