Question about Airbnb TOS and guest using abusive language before staying

Familiar situation: a guest has booked a stay and now wants a refund. I’d very much like to keep the payout.

But unlike other guests who go away after a couple of messages, this guest is using abusive language in Airbnb messages and has called me over 40 times (I did not answer). She is especially motivated in getting a refund. She says she will sue me in small claims court.

Her language in Airbnb messages would clearly not conform to Airbnb TOS. I have not reported her because I’d like to keep the payout. I worry that if I report her she will be banned from Airbnb and I will lose the payout. I could not find anything in Airbnb TOS that says I could keep the payout if she gets banned. I know there are Airbnb TOS experts here, so I’m looking for guidance.

My studio is located on a remote island and the building has a security guard. I take credit card deposit as well, which I’m allowed to since I use a channel manager. These safeguards prevent people from causing damaging, but a highly motivated guest could cause a lot of damage and headache, and take the space offline for repairs.

So I’m trying to figure out how to navigate this… is the most rational thing to do is give in to this bully and take a loss? Or can I stand my ground and take the chance that this person simply won’t show up.

Is there anything in Airbnb TOS that can guide me?

So the reservation is still in place – she wants to cancel but will not do so unless you commit (in writing on the platform) to a full refund?

  • how far in the future is this reservation
  • how long is the stay?
  • how much money is involved?

4 weeks. 4 nights and around USD 800.

I often get last minute bookings but I want to keep the money from this booking. She has contacted Airbnb 3 times and they told her I was the one refusing refunds. So she is mad.

Was “no refund for 10% discount” in place?

Yes. She chose the non refundable option.

But she still thinks she should get a refund. Now she claims she booked it by mistake.

It’s not my mistake so I don’t want to pay for it.

The cancellation policy is in my favor but I’m not sure enforcing it is the right business decision.

I wouldn’t give her a refund. Booked by mistake, I doubt it.
She sounds off-the-wall, called 40 times.


Please report her- she needs to be banned for that behavior.
Not sure why you think reporting a guest for obnoxious, disrespectful behavior has anything to do with the payout. While she certainly doesn’t deserve it, if it were me, with a booking 4 weeks in advance, I’d refund her at least half just to get rid of her.


What would be “bad business decision” about enforcing it?

Here’s what I have done in similar situation.

Make it clear that she had a choice when she booked the reservation to pay full fare, or to accept a 10% discount in return for giving up her right of refund if she cancelled.

.."I offered you a fully-refundable reservation but it was you who clicked the button declining a refundable arrangement in favour of an $80 discount. If this was clicked in error, you had an obligation to immediately contact the host or Airbnb and ask for a correction – you did not.

As an aside – anyone who goes to small claim court and says ‘Your honour, I booked a no-refund reservation in exchange for a discount, but now I want a refund.’ will – I am sure – be greeted by laughter and snark from the judge, so I am not at all concerned about the prospect of you taking me to small claims court.

I have no legal obligation to provide a refund – we have a contract that is very clear about that. However I am prepared to voluntarily offer you a CONDITIONAL goodwill full or partial refund on the following basis:

- I will offer you the goodwill refund if I get another guest booking some or all of the nights you wish to cancel. If that “replacement guest” covers all of the fees you are paying, I will return all of the fees paid to me from you by Airbnb, even though I have no legal obligation to do so. This does not cover Airbnb service fees or taxes, as Airbnb hangs on to that money, and you will have take that up with them. Any conditional refund funds will be sent to you by me from my Airbnb account via Airbnb when the fees from the “replacement guest” land in my bank account, usually about week after the guest arrives.

- This conditional voluntary refund is made by me entirely as a goodwill gesture, and will be withdrawn if the goodwill on my side is not matched 100% by goodwill on yours. A two-way goodwill relationship is characterized by a lack of aggression, an absence of harassment, an absence of argumentative dialogue, and a civil and respectful tone in all communications. Given your behaviour in the past few days (40+ phone calls, bogus threats to sue me for money you have paid Airbnb, abusive language) we are already at the zero-tolerance point – a single departure from “goodwill” deportment at your end will void my generous offer of a voluntary conditional refund.

- If you want to accept my offer of a goodwill arrangement the first thing you need to do is cancel your reservation so it goes back on the market at Airbnb and is available top prospective “replacement guests.” Although there is no guarantee, at this point there is four weeks lead time for someone else to discover and book the [cabin] for the weekend you cancelled, and then put me in a position to issue a refund for my component of the money you paid to Airbnb. The longer you wait to cancel, the less likely someone else will book those dates.
Once you have done that, I will report back to you if and when I have a replacement reservation. There is nothing I can do to speed up someone booking the cabin, so there is no need for you to contact me while I am waiting (and hoping) for this to happen, and any contact from you during this period will be considered harassment, and will void my goodwill offer and trigger a complaint of host-harassment to Airbnb, something they have little tolerance for.



This strategy, in my view, provides you with the double satisfaction of feeling like you are bending over backwards to be fair (and not letting her toxicity divert you from the path of fairness) and at the same time using financial incentives to force a psycho bully to “bend the knee” (as they say in Game of Thrones), something bullies always hate doing.


I wouldn’t offer her a penny unless someone else replaced her nights AND she promised to behave and kept her promise (see my note in this thread).

Airbnb profile pic of the guest at issue here.


You’ve gotten good advice here, but I understand your concerns about the guest deciding to actually arrive for a “revenge stay,” and leaving a horrendous review or even worse, mistreating and damaging the property.

You might want to inform Airbnb CS that the guest has been sending abusive messages and making harassing phone calls, and that you are concerned that if they choose to stay at the property due to the lack of a refund per the Airbnb discounted booking policy, they will cause damage resulting in a claim on Airbnb.

I would message the guest: “We are unable to routinely refund guests who choose to book a discounted non-refundable stay and maintain our business operations. Airbnb retains guest payments until the booking dates, so please deal with Airbnb if you wish to ask for an administrative refund from them.”

Giving this abusive person a goodwill offer of a partial refund if booked sticks in my craw, but sometimes it makes cost/benefit sense to pay someone to go away (bad tenant).

“Alternatively, if you take action now to cancel your booking on the Airbnb platform, it is our policy to offer a partial refund should the dates be booked by a new guest.” (Do not specify any amount.)

Regardless of whether you include a partial refund offer, I would add, “Regarding your expressed intent to file a lawsuit, we have notified our legal counsel to be prepared to respond.”


…“please be aware that you paid your fees to Airbnb, not to me, and that – at this point in time – the funds are held in an Airbnb account. Airbnb is one of the largest travel companies on the planet, and hitting their well-resourced legal department with a nuisance lawsuit is perhaps not your wisest move.”


just the time an effort in dealing with her messages and undoubtedly she will raise a host of complaints once she gets to the property.

Wonderful. I sent this.


By any chance is her name Kimberly Guilfoyle?


I have had a guest in the past who got banned from Airbnb. His reservation was cancelled and I got a zero payout. He got banned due to actions not related to his booking with me.

LOL… nobody with that kind of money stays at my listing.


So she’s “I want to cancel… but I’m still coming if I can’t get a refund.”?

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So far she has shown no intention of staying. Just making wild claims about my character and calling me names.

My thinking was that since the check-in date is still a month out, that the OP would likely get another booking, and would get paid for a new booking plus retaining half the guest from hell’s money.


Still rewarding abusive behaviour AND risking being out by half

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