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UPDATE: Thanks all for your comments and advice. Airbnb has contacted me confirming no evidence of illness has been produced, my payment has been released and the refund matter is now closed. Very happy that I had used previous advice on this forum to avoid negotiating with the guest and channelling the matter though Airbnb support.
I had 2 guests due to stay in my property last week who did not ever actually check in due to illness on their side. They messaged me the first day advising one party was sick and they intended to come the 2nd day. However, I got another message thd 2nd day saying both were now ill and they would not make it at all. They did not cancel the reservation.
A few days later, the guest messaged requesting a refund. I am happy to refund the cleaning fee but do not want to refund the booking cost (leaving me out of pocket with the loss of two nights income). I have told Airbnb support this (I am channelling all communication through Airbnb rather than directly with the guest) but they advise a full refund will be necessary under their extenuating circumstances policy if the guests can provide documentary evidence of their illness.
Does anyone know if there is a way out of this? Surely, the guests illness should not be a cost for me?
There are dozens of posts here on the same topic. I’ll summarize for you:
Airbnb always takes the side of the guest if the guest pushes for it.
If the guests provide documentation to Airbnb that they were ill they will get a full refund under the extenuating circumstances policy as you stated. They won’t show you the documentation so you have to take their word for it.
Airbnb, in effect, allows hosts to be the free travel insurance for guests.
The only way out is to quit using Airbnb as a platform and promote your listing yourself and provide ways for guests to book directly with you where you can set your own policies. However you will take a big hit on bookings and make a lot less money unless you have a nice traditional whole home vacation rental in a tourist area.
My advice is to say no to refund requests and let Airbnb earn their commisson by letting them handle it.
I certainly wouldn’t give a refund. And I’d leave it to Airbnb to negotiate with the guest. (I have a policy of once a guest’s stay is over, I forget about them. I certainly don’t want them taking up more of my time).
But if they genuinely provide real proof that they were ill, well, what would you expect in their shoes? I’d expect to have to pay the Airbnb fees as they had followed through on their function - to advertise the host’s premises and to provide the platform that allowed the host and guest to find each other and communicate.
I wouldn’t expect the cleaning (preparation) fee to be refunded because the property was ready for me. Because this was a two night stay and because I as the guest had contacted you to let you know that the first day wasn’t possible, then I’d certainly expect a refund of one night.
No, it’s not ‘fair’ on the host. Life isn’t, especially in business transactions. You say ‘Surely, the guests illness should not be a cost for me?’ but if you put yourself in their shoes, why should it be at a cost to them? They didn’t deliberately become ill. (And remember that this is assuming they have provided proof).
Don’t be pressured by Airbnb though - stick to your guns.
As a host I wouldn’t expect to be shown proof about a health condition. A person’s health is a confidential matter. Would you really want another host knowing if you had cancer, manic depression or HIV, for example.
I would expect Airbnb to have robust systems in place. For example for them to obtain a copy of a doctors note, or hospital admission dates from the hospital, in countries where they have these.
This is what travel insurance is for. The person making the plans should bear the cost. I’ve got a trip coming up for which I bought a concert ticket. I didn’t buy insurance because if I canceled the trip I would re-sell the ticket on ticketmaster. But if I didn’t decide until the day of the concert I couldn’t go I might not be able to resell the ticket. I certainly couldn’t sell it the day after the show. My airline ticket is non refundable. My Airbnb is on moderate policy and my hotel is only fully refundable until 3 days before the stay. Both the airline and ticketmaster offer an option to purchase insurance right on their website. Airbnb needs to do the same.
The case of the OP is especially egregious since there was zero opportunity to rebook the space. As more people use Airbnb and discover the free accommodations insurance, don’t be surprised if we hear more stories of last minute EC cancellations. Maybe it will get bad enough to provoke a change in Airbnb policy.
I don’t understand how they can possibly ask for a refund. They didn’t make the listing available for another reservation - they used the dates, even if they weren’t there. A reservation is only considered cancelled (per Airbnb’s own definition) when a guest hits “cancel”.
It seems to me that if someone asks for a refund Airbnb never says no straight away. They always ask the host if the host will give one. I guess they figure why not ask, if the host agrees, it costs Airbnb nothing and they have a happy guest.
I am not going to get into another pointless debate with you But as you once again asked a question I had already answered, I’ll answer again ) - Because they have to abide by confidentiality policies. Hosts don’t.
It’s rather ridiculous that you expect confidential health information about a guest and their party to be shared with you. Or information about the death of one of their loved ones that caused them to cancel.
You signed up to their EC policy, when you signed up as a host with Airbnb. If you don’t like it. Vote with your feet.
I’ve never had a claim on EC in three an a half years and hundreds of guests, so can’t tell you how I would feel if it happened to me
How many guests have you had cancel under this policy?
I can’t speak for RR but I read this not as we should get confidential health information as a host but as the insurer. The solution isn’t to make us privy to the confidential information it’s to quit making us be the insurer.