Non-evacuee books a free stay?!

I am in Houston TX and when I heard airbnb was facilitating offering evacuees/displaced folks free stays, I signed up for the program.
2 people have booked on the free program on my listing, one took the time to explain her situation and so I am fine with that. The other booked (instantly ) and then immediately called my phone – asking me a bunch of questions, how noisy is the space, wanted to come by and check it out etc. I assumed she was a paying guest, and answered her questions as best I could, explaining we do not allow guests to tour until they arrive for their stay. When I got off the phone, I discoverd she had booked for $0. On her booking she did not mention anything – no info like guests usually give and no info about being flooded etc…

I replied to her – asking if she was flooded or evacuated or what. I then tried to call her and no answer / no call back. She finally replied with a short reply “no I’m okay, just the traffic”. I replied that she booked on the disaster relief page and was not charged for the booking. I asked her to cancel and rebook on the regular site. She replied that " I will change but I already paid" --I then sent her a pic of the screen, showing the $0 payout.
I have contacted airbnb explaining my predicament and asked them to cancel her booking. It has been 12 hours and no cancellation yet
As an experienced super host – I really do not want to cancel a guest myself due to the airbnb punishment policy they have. I assume they would not have relaxed this for non-paying guests.

I assume that this luckily does not happen often, and I hope she is not scamming – maybe just a mistake–any thoughts?

I am certainly not wanting to profit on the tragedy but I have lost money on cancellations and time due to this event too… I want to help folks but not get screwed.

Don’t they have to offer some proof that they are evacuated? What does Airbnb do to protect hosts from just anyone booking for free? If they don’t offer proper screening to hosts I’d just drop out of the program and give to an established reputable charity.
Get back in the phone until you get someone who helps you immediately and cancels the reservation while you are on the phone speaking with them.
Airbnb has a tendency to put all the responsibility on the host while taking all the credit for their “good deeds”.

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What a difficult situation @LMK

From what you have said, she can’t have paid as she claims if she booked through the disaster pages.

Have you kept a record through their messaging of all your conversations? Have you highlighted that she says she has paid but the booking came through the disaster pages with no payment made.

Get on the phone to Airbnb again and contact them via Twitter, say it’s been 12 hours and they need to confirm before the guest arrives.

Unfortunately some people do scam.

If she turns up. Then check with her again about her situation. If she is not an evacuee call Airbnb and get them to transfer the booking to a paid for one, before you allow her to check in.

However I would be uncomfortable with this guest and would probably ask Airbnb to cancel the booking.


So @LMK what happened with your guest ?

To be fair, it could be a technical error and the guest made a regular booking. Let’s be honest, the site is glitchy at the best times. But you have to forgive them because they’re based in Silicon Valley and it’s SOO hard to get good tech people there.

so I just kept asking her to cancel, she sent a message back saying she did pay. I showed her that she did not by sending her a screenshot of the reservation. It took about four back and forths. When I told her I was waiting on airbnb to answer me back to deal with the issue, she finally cancelled.


Truly, this is an example of the saying that “no good deed goes unpunished”. Sorry you had to deal with this.

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OMG, another bad experience with this same program. I had another booking on the free program for flood victims. She messaged me at the time of booking telling me she was out of her apartment due to the flood and needed a place to stay. she booked a week in advance, so I assumed she had another place to stay until them. I sent her my usual message asking what time she was arriving to arrange check in. She never answered, I tried couple more times including the day of the booking…never any answer. She booked for 5 days so that meant losing out on 5 days of a paid booking. I finally had to contact airbnb the day after the booking started to get them to cancel the booking. I guess she thought --well it is free so no loss to me if I don’t show…

It’s time to opt out of that program or turn off instant book until you get it worked out. Thanks for sharing your experience. It makes me disinclined to sign up for any such relief program.

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yeah as soon as I got the lady trying to scam, I opted out but as you
fellow hosts know – it is airbnb suicide to cancel EVER. I also really
wanted to help this girl…if she no longer needed the place it is just
common decency to cancel as soon as possible…guess when it doesn’t cost
you anything you could care less…

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