Refunding payments for cancelled bookings

I have a strict cancellation policy … clearly see in red on the first page of my listing 50% …but air always tells the guest to contact the host to ask for the rest of the money back …whats the point of asking us to have a policy if they are going to do that …I have been put in an awkward position when guests that have cancelled call looking to see if I will refund …anyone else?

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I am surprised about that too since we have nothing to do with the payment process. If we were to offer a refund because we got a new guest, we have no record of what they actually paid airbnb vs us plus if we had to send a bank transfer, that is about $25 where I live to an out of country guest. Besides, usually we don’t even get paid for several weeks, so how is that supposed to work? I am as confused as you are and I would not refund anything more than stated on your policy, that was up front information to the guest, not a surprise. Try calling the airbnb number, they are very helpful. Let us know what you find out. This just doesn’t sound right to me.

Just don’t rent it if the STRICT cancellation is not comfortable

I have a completely flexible cancellation policy.

Had a guest try to get a refund out of me, after the end of his 14 day booking in which he never showed up!
Politely declined as my diary was blocked for the period, and I had been trying to contact him throughout.

He then tried to book again for a further period at a discounted rate. I politely declined.

Months later he then writes a complaint to Airbnb claiming I had left him stranded (never mind that he never showed up, or made any contact during the period of his ‘stay’)!
Some experiences are just mind boggling!
Luckily Airbnb could see through his false claims!


You did nothing wrong at all. You blocked off the calendar, had the place ready, tried to communicate with the guest and he failed to show so it’s his bad. I hope you were laughing all the way to the bank with that sweet pile of cash. Maybe he was on a bender that whole time? But he doesn’t have a leg to stand on asking for a refund then …or months later.

Seriously, these types of oddball people renting our homes…just makes you wonder if there’s an easier way to pound a penny!

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Just would like a little more thoughts on this situation.

Like @Billy_Bob_Merkowitz (where has he been, or the latest incarnation of him? I’m wondering what’s happening with those barking dogs in his neighborhood…) I want to be fair, and not take advantage of a guest’s misfortune or foolishness.

But as my husband just said, we as hosts take risks. Guests take risks. Sometimes it works in our favor, often, not.

My original inauguration booking was for $259 for 5 nights. When she cancelled she got a 50% refund and I told her I would refund what I could rebook, less $50 rebooking fee.

I have now (thank God) rebooked 3 of the 5 nights. However, there is only $600 left to refund. I still have two nights ‘lost’ at $259 a night, for $518. This isn’t going to leave much to refund. I doubt I’ll resell those dates as they are on either end of the event including the march.

I know many of you have said “you don’t owe her anything” and I understand that -

I never clarified under what conditions I would refund her, as I was sure I’d rebook at a much higher rate anyway (ha. ha. ha).

For those who would refund nights rebooked, how do you calculate it?

Bully Bob re-emerged as Robert Dudley,but even he’s been missing for a while. Ha Bully was an autocorrect,but I am just going to leave it because it seems appropriate. :smiley:

As for the refund, I would say give back the full amount only if you rebooked it at the same rate. Otherwise, give back a token portion. You aren’t obligated to give back any so if I were her, I would be happy with a token amount. Can you still do it via resolution now?

Curious about your guests. Trumpers or Protestors?



I recently (3 mos. ago) cancelled a long-held reservation of a couple who had booked 8 nights. Sixty days prior to arrival, the full rental amount is due; and as per policy, no refunds if cancelled within 30 days except for dates which are re-rented.

Thirty days before arrival, they notified me that they wanted a granddaughter to accompany them. I replied that I was sorry to disappoint them but they knew the maximum occupancy was two and that it was always so, and there can be no flexibility or accommodation for a third. They were super unhappy and could not modify their plans.

I promptly refunded their security deposit and cleaning fee and informed them that I would open their dates in hopes of re-booking their dates. With time so short, I was surprised that 3 of their 8 nights were re-booked through Air. I waited until payment was received and then notified the couple and refunded them for the 3 nights, including the tax. (Their booking was via another platform.)

Naturally, I felt bad because they lost hundreds but they knew the policy. In the ‘old days’, I used to offer guests credit toward re-booking within a year…but after a couple of times I realized I was still losing on their initial booking because those dates were blocked from others who might have reserved them. So, I am now hard-nosed based on necessity.

Guests benefit from a host’s honesty because there is no way they would know whether any or all of their dates are rebooked.


Nice of you to refund anything. I mean… Their bad planning should not equal your loss or hassle.

I think it’s presumptuous that they felt they could just bring a third person no problem.

I’m hardline like you now. I’ve been played for the fool twice in that regard which has cost me more than $1500 in profit, while the guest was free to skate away and book somewhere else. Both times they fed me lies about why they needed to cancel or alter. Both times I discovered their deceit.

So now, sorry. Hardline me is what you get.

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For sure! Guests who cancel will always have a sob story and it’s easy to feel sympathetic to their situation. It would be rare to find a guest who would be sympathetic to a host’s situation of losing money. I understand those who prefer to judge on a case-by-case basis but I no longer ascribe to that generous approach.

Business is business.

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If that’s what I told someone that’s what I would do.

I have a hard time taking money when no service is provided and I have good luck re-booking canceled days even when the cancellation is last minute. And for every person who was refunded and I didn’t get re-booked it seems there was another person whose cancelled last minute and got no refund and I rebooked and got double. So it evens out.

As I’ve posted previously, this is all about me. This is what feels right and good to me. If a different policy feels right and good to another host, that’s what they should do. All of our listings are different and what’s right for me isn’t necessarily right for someone else.

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does the $259 x 5 nights include a cleaning fee? If so, was your guest already refunded the cleaning fee? Did you only recieve a 50% on the rental rate (excluding clean fee)?

My cleaning fee is only $20 - just to offset the extra cost of having a one-night guest, so I don’t know, didn’t look.

She did get a 50% refund, so I realized that she only ‘paid’ $129.50 per night. So I would only keep $129.50 for each night not booked - 2 nights - less the $50 re-booking fee.

I think. I haven’t been paid anything, of course, so I’m going to wait until I’ve been paid for all the nights before refunding anything. And I did make a bit more on the new bookings - so - yay!

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Be careful with separating out all the clean fees with her reservation and the new ones. And be sure to know whether that amount is included in your nightly calculations when you receive her payout. Don’t accidentally short yourself. Also, you should not eat the 3% cost when you refund. That amount also needs to be subtracted.

I didn’t realize you would be refunding “per night” - I assumed you would be refunding based on the total received over that 5 night period, not based on number of nights booked.


That may be a better way of calculating it, @cabinhost, thanks.

No, no, no. I was NOT suggesting that is how you should calculate it. Because you did say that you did not discuss with her how you would refund. I’m going to send you a PM