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Irrate guest over cancellation fee...Has the climate of AirBnb booking guests changed?


#1

Hello Community Friends - I rent own my personal home in the summer months. I had a guest who booked with me for two weeks and then a subsequent, 2 days. He cancelled. As per my cancellation policy, he owes me for the cancellation fee. We were back and forth with each other and airbnb and I decided that he had my calendar blocked for a total of 16 days during one of the two most prime booking months of the year, tried to blame me for booking him and suggesting he didn’t mean to book in the first place. All after he had sent me an inbox message on the reservation to advise of his flight arrival and that he required a late check in. He then created a second profile/account and sent me a message from there, and booked out two more days, but told me he didn’t want this reservation either. I still don’t have anyone booked in to cover off the 16 days. The guest told me he was aware of the 50% cancellation fee when we spoke. After a day or two he became upset with me for charging the fee and his messages were insulting, aggressive and then the last one, he threatened to come to my property next month as he is still coming to the area. So here I have a situation where someone booked with me, was provided my address, cancelled, is unhappy with how it was handled and is now threatening to come to my home.

My question is - are you all noticing a change in the AirBnb guests you have been hosting? Last year everyone seemed super friendly, courteous, appreciative & respectful. This year, I seem to be challenged in some way, with every second guest. At this point I am trying to decide whether to continue renting my property and welcome other’s thoughts and experiences.


#2

What an awful situation. I hope Airbnb have now blocked this guest from contacting you further.

I am sure you do this already but don’t let anyone into your home unless you are expecting them or can see who they are through a spy hole or similar.

As the guest has cancelled the booking, he has no reason to visit. I think it sounds like an empty threat, but ask Airbnb what they are planning to do to help ensure there is no further contact from this guest and that he is banned from Airbnb for threatening hosts.


#3

In answer to your question. I have been lucky in that all my guests apart from the first one have been lovely. Some a little trying but no-one who has been awful.

If you have IB turned on, why not turn it off so you can vet your guests before accepting their bookings. What sort of questions do you currently ask guests as part of your IB process?


#4

Helsi, Thank you! I did turn off instant booking and now will only accept guests with strong recommendations. It is helpful for me to know that you are still having majority positive experiences.


#5

Most of my stays are still overwhelmingly positive, however I have noticed that as Airbnb grows and reaches further out of the original “home stay/vacation rental” guests into the customers who used to stay exclusively in hotels, expectations get difficult to manage.

First time Airbnb users are keen on the promise of a stay at less than hotel prices, but often aren’t willing to spend time to read and understand what they’re booking. They reserve because they like the pictures and are flabbergasted when they don’t get a full refund after cancelling two days before their visit. They don’t comprehend the “peer to peer” economy; they see AIRBNB as a corporate entity that should be as flexible as the Marriott, not understanding that individual hosts can’t operate as if we were a hotel chain. Marriott can afford to refund a cancelled stay because their occupancy drops from 85 to 84%. For most single-listing Airbnb hosts, that would be a drop from 100% to 0%. Emboldened by every Holiday Inn that ever let them cancel the day before their stay, or let children under 10 stay for free, or didn’t balk when 4 stayed rather than the 2 they paid for, they call Airbnb CS in a huff because this isn’t what they expected (who reads the fine print anyway?)

Air continues to push things like InstantBook and self check-in in a customer-centric effort to be hotel-like. To be a “business-ready” listing, you must offer flexible cancellation. I find it more than a little schizophrenic, as they on one hand want to tout the uniqueness of listings and have us sign “living wage” pledges, whilst simultaneously suggesting nightly rates that wouldn’t provide a living wage for the cleaner, much less the property owner.
To top this off, some hosts have reported CS calling to advocate a refund on behalf of the guest. They play on sympathies “oh, but it’s SO much money and this poor guest…” I feel the only recourse is to point them back to the clear policies the guest agreed to. Ask them what the point of a policy is if we’re not allowed to enforce them. Ask them why a company valued at $31 BILLION is trying to take $1,600 from a host making $X thousand per year. If they care so much about the “poor guest’s” refund, they can take it out of their own deep pockets.

I’m with you – I’ll ride this venture for as long as it’s financially and personally worthwhile.


#6

Well over a hundred visitations, and only one real problem – a last minute cancellation that wanted everything for nothing and complained to Air when I wouldn’t meet outrageous demands before arriving.


#7

Thank you for this Allison! AirBnb has been a huge support to me over the past several months and I am super grateful. With this case in particular; my remaining concerns are a) that Customer Service suggested several times to this guest that ‘the host can refund you a portion of the refund or choose to refund you in full’ and b) that this guest simply got a warning and is able to continue on this platform after having threatened to come to my house. I’ve met such wonderful people and AirBnB Support really has been amazing. The situation of someone booking, receiving my address and then cancelling and becoming disgruntled due to cancellation charges, was not something I thought through previously. I truly appreciate your thoughts. Take care!


#8

Well that’s not a bad track record then : ) Thank you for letting me know, Ken! I have only had about 14 guests so was wondering what everyone else was experiencing.


#9

Hi Monica,

Like @KenH I’ve had hundreds of guests over the years and very few problems. Guests today seem to be just the same as they always have been - no better and no worse.

I know that it’s a horrible situation but I honestly believe that his threats are 99.99% bluff. Many years ago I had someone say to me on a public forum (which was nothing to do with rentals or anything similar) that he knew where I worked (which was true because it was in my profile in those days of internet daftness) and that he’d seek me out and … well, I won’t say exactly, but it wasn’t very nice at all.

People who threaten on the internet, by email or any other non-face-to-face methods are just bullies who wouldn’t dare to say boo to a goose in real life.


#10

Someone who would threaten to come over to your house should be reported to the police. For God’s sake we are living in a civilised society.


#11

I will suggest taking a screenshot of the messages and politely replying that you’ve recorded down this conversation and offer to turn the case over to airbnb for mediation and dispute resolution. Hint that you are ready to contact the police should you believe your personal safety is at risk.


#12

As Petrelli suggests, screen shot the threat.
Take it to the local police and also give them the guest’s name, photograph if you have it from the profile and any other facts about him you may know.
Please. Do this.


#13

I’m still catching up on the forum from vacationing and a simple like for this post isn’t enough. It’s a fantastic summary of where we were and where things are heading.

A best of Airhost forum post.


#14

Amen sister! Yep…for every person who tells a fellow host that they are greedy for not refunding in full to a guest who is going through an emergency…it makes me cringe. Other hosts actually shame other hosts for needing to pay their own mortgage and cannot absorb a 0% income for the week.

Excellent post!


#15

I have never once refunded anyone, I don’t feel bad, I’ve often been rebooked too and made more $. They agreed to Airbnb terms, I always send them back there and tell Airbnb staff ‘it’s open to you to refund them from your monies if you like, I’m not in a position to do so but thanks for reaching out’ :joy:


#16

Hi @Allison_H,

I don’t normally write “me too” type messages, but this is an exceptionally well written post, so I just wanted to say that. You really put your finger on the issues.

Are hotels really super-flexible about cancellation, though? I find that surprising.


#17

@K9KarmaCasa, I totally agree with you and with Allison’s reasoned and eloquent post.


#18

UPDATE: The guest is still trying to get his deposit back and arguing with Airbnb, my case worker called me yesterday and said to contact police if he shows up at my property over the next two weeks, and this guest is still an Airbnb member to date. None of which is a big help.

The one positive - is that this situation has brought to light to the Airbnb team, the issue of guests receiving host’s full addresses at the time the reservation is accepted. They are now looking into changing this so that the host address is not released until closer to check in. Between a booking being accepted and check in, a lot can happen that may prevent a guest from actually checking in. So, although I’m nervous of the next two weeks, I’ve learned a lot with this experience, lost some faith in the Airbnb guest community and have learned that Airbnb support truly does listen and tries to help in anyway the can.


#19

While I’m happy you feel supported you should be aware that Airbnb will tell you things to calm you down but nothing will actually change.

You should consider some sort of security cameras, at the very least an internet connected doorbell like the Ring.


#20

If I choose to continue, I will absolutely consider cameras. At this time, I live on my own and this whole experience has shown me how quickly things can escalate. I’m not certain I will continue next summer.


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