Scammed by a guest for a 50% refund

Hello lovelies. Here is the little misadventure I had with one of my guests.

And this is a warning for anyone willing to host him or in case similar guests try this trick to get a refund.

12 hours before checkout (he stayed for 3 nights), airbnb customer service contacts me saying that the guest was asking for a 50% refund because he was having trouble getting home.

I double checked airbnb chat box, the guest has never complained once and didn’t do any follow up after I sent him the directions to my home (follow up: i ask my guest about their estimated arrival time to prepare for their welcome). So basically nothing from him except his short msg when he instant booked.

I told customer service that I sent a detailed manual in a pdf link full of any info needed to get home, from address, maps, photos for directions. The manual has even detailed description of how to use anything at home since all the appliances are in Japanese. So there was noway he could have had any difficulty getting home, plus there were no constructions, blockage or anything in the way.

Customer service went ahead and gave the 50% refund adding that the title of my listing was inaccurate and that I should change it. My title being: 5min walk to the station.

I sent the map and screen shot of google maps with my address, the address that i registered with on airbnb platform and it shows that my apartment is exactly 5min walk away at 400m to the station.

Response from airbnb: the guest gave him proof that the listing was further than 5min and included a screen shot of google maps.

I open the image that customer service forwarded to me to find that the guest sent a screenshot of a dropped-pin on google maps somewhere NOT WHERE MY BUILDING IS but 10 minutes away, a complete different address.

When I told customer service about my findings, his reply was short and cold and I quote: I WILL NOT CHANGE MY DECISION.

This is his profile. No bad reviews, I had noway to know that a scam like this was possible. I have been hosting for over two years now, have 200 amazing reviews, and been a superhost since the following term i started, no one has ever complained about my apartment being inaccurate or located further than the 5min.

I feel betrayed, and angry that customer service let me down like that AND NAIVE for not even thinking that this was a possible trick to play to get a huge portion of the reservation back.

The guest wrote me a review, I still have a couple of days before I write mine. I am waiting for other guests to write me a review so that other prospective guests don’t see his review first as i am quite certain he must have said something not positive, because why would he? He asked for a 50% refund AND GOT IT based on a lie!

What would you write in his review?
Thank you for taking the time to read my rant.

Hi @koedeigh,

Wow, that’s bad. But I don’t quite understand the problem. Is the guest complaining he got lost getting back to your place after having first stayed there a while? Assuming that is even possible, how is that your problem?

Oh, and one obvious thing to bear in mind is that once the Airbnb customer service idiot gave the guest the money back (your money), he has no way to get it back from the guest. Airbnb can get money from you by withholding from future payments if necessary. You have an ongoing “relationship” with Airbnb. But not from guests. And they obviously aren’t going to give you their own money.

These idiots have apparently not been told by their management to check with the hosts first to find out their side of it before doing anything. If they don’t do that, then of course fixing things after the event is difficult or impossible.

I’d describe what happened in sufficient detail. Post a draft here so people can comment.

Oh, and something this bad (amounting to straight fraud) might deserve a post on the Airbnb Facebook page. I hear people have posted there, but I have not, and I don’t know details.


So 12 hours before checking out the guest this time got tired of walking, because on the 3rd day the distance to get ‘home’ proved too far, but in wasn’t in the first 2 days? Airbnb suggested you change your ‘title’ of your listing; the actual title or description? Exactly what reason they gave why you should that? They believed his map but not yours?

~IF~ the guests was indeed a scammer, then it is easy to expose him, with a brief, well written review, and with that we can help you. :sunglasses:

Words fail me. Yet again a story of getting a refund for bo good reason.

Have you tried escalating this to a different case manager? I would try speaking to someone else about this issue and push for a voucher to cover the missing income.

On a separate note I’d recommend a bit more pro-active communication with your guests. A message the day after check in asking if everything is ok (via the messaging centre) is not just a good idea because it’s nice. It’s an audit trail that Airbnb can use when making decisions in cases such as these. It’s really better that hosts don’t wait for guests to raise issues as it can backfire (often unfairly so). Had the guest not responded, you would still have had a record that the guest had not raised the issue with you.

And finally yes change the title. It can only be a five minute walk if you take a certain route and my bet is not all guests will do that. Normally you should be able to say these things but there will always be an idiot looking to exploit certain statements in your listing, so don’t leave yourself open to it in the first place .

Hope you get some sort of resolution to this. Stay very calm and very nice with Airbnb while you speak to them and present it all in ways of trying to be the best host possible.

Such a shame that more and more guests are scamming ways to get refunds. And Air is backing them up! What I notice is that it even though Air claims that the guest needs to report something within 24 hours of arrival…Air completely disregards their own policies. Just another example of a mirage. So guests are combing through the policies to see if they can find anything in the listing that will qualify to get a refund (even if outside the 24 hr. window). I am disgusted that an Air rep. would not acknowledge that the guest was deceitful with your location. So now this guy gets to go through the system again, and do this to another host. This is likely the policy guests are looking at when trying to scam for a refund:

"What is Airbnb’s Guest Refund Policy?

If your host canceled your reservation, you can transfer your payment to a new Airbnb reservation or request a refund.
If you experience a travel issue that prevents you from being able to complete a trip with Airbnb, and you’re unable to resolve with your host, our Guest Refund Policy may be applied in certain circumstances.

Eligible travel issues

Situations that may be eligible for a refund under this policy generally fall into one of three categories:

The host fails to provide reasonable access to the booked listing.

The listing booked is misrepresented (ex: number of bedrooms, location, lacks promised amenities).

The listing isn’t generally clean, is unsafe, or there’s an animal in the listing that wasn’t disclosed prior to booking.

Airbnb will either provide you with a refund or use reasonable efforts to find and book you at another comparable accommodation for any unused nights left in your reservation. The amount of any refund will depend on the nature of the travel Issue suffered.

Submit a valid claim for refund

To submit a valid claim for your reservation, you are required to:

Contact us within 24 hours of check-in to document the issue and place a hold on the host’s payment. Include photographs or other evidence of the issue as part of your claim.
Be responsive to our requests for additional information and cooperation.
Not have directly or indirectly caused the Travel Issue.
Have used reasonable efforts to remedy the circumstances of the Travel Issue with the host prior to making a claim, including messaging your host on Airbnb to notify them of the issue. We’ll verify this in your account.
Review the Guest Refund Policy Terms for more details, including more information about the minimum quality standards for accommodations, and what qualifies as a travel issue."

I posted in a recent thread Air’s policy of making the host responsible for refunding the guest. So basically Air is just going around saying “our decision is final” while refusing to acknowledge the guest did not provide any true evidence. And they are taking the refunds out of host’s future payouts so that they make the guest happy, and they will book again. Air gets to earn another service with a future booking, while the next victim host will lose 50% of the money they earned.


I totally don’t get why the guest was given a refund the night before he was supposed to check out. If he was having trouble initially getting to the property and reported it within 24 hours, maybe.

Time descriptions (5 mins to station, 2 mins to beach, etc) are a bit fraught because they are subjective. Central Tokyo is a bit intimidating for the newcomer and they may think it is longer than 5 minutes, or it may even be ten minutes, due to crowds. Still, it’s totally unfIr to complain days later.

If he does leave a review you can also leave one about how the guest nit picked and complained but be careful not to mention the case he opened as that could get the review removed.

Ugh. I really hope you can escalate this.

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One point of clarification - it sounds like @koedeigh’s guest just pulled the 50% out of the air, is that right? @cabinhost, is there anything in the rules that would correspond to this 50%?

Also (this is a side-bar) I read an article that says a lot of corporations are putting language in their agreements make class action lawsuits more difficult, or impossible. From, it sounds like Airbnb is one of those. Big surprise. Otherwise, this kind of behavior could be material for a class action lawsuit.

Faheem - not that I am aware of. The only thing I see in the guest refund policy is this: “The amount of any refund will depend on the nature of the travel Issue suffered.”

I can only guess that the rep. might ask the guest what amount they think is fair. Or it’s possible the reps. are given a script to first offer this, then next offer that, etc.

What’s incredible is that the reps. are NOT doing their job and allowing the host to respond first. Instead, they are just jumping the gun…then after realizing their error - still forcing the host to give the money back. Shaking my head…

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Yes, this kind of thing seems to be getting more and more common. But what do they care? It’s not their money, right?

I’ve been meaning to write a question asking whether this kind of thing is as common with other similar STR services. Or is Airbnb’s lead position going to their heads?

haha…I did fix it. I need to edit before I post…but it’s easier to edit afterwards…lol.

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Airbnb must care. We too comprise an essential part of the business model and both sides make Airbnb.

I’ve had a lot of dealings with Airbnb and (aside from the American guy who was pretty inflexible) overall they’ve been very good people.

This decision does sound bizarre as on the surface it it looks like a last minute complaint, but, if the guest had a similar experience to my one in LA (reports the incident the day after check in and experiences a delay CS side while they look into it) this can very quickly take you to the latter stages of a booking.

Maybe they should, but in my experience they don’t. And there are plenty of people here who have had similar experiences.

My experience with Airbnb has been almost uniformly negative. Their customer service is terrible. And my limited experience regarding cancellations is that they’re practically champing at the bit to give all the money back to the guest. I can point you to at least one relevant thread.

There seems to be quite a lot of variation in hosts experiences. Some of this may be simply attributable to luck, but it’s also possible that people in different countries are dealing with different customer service centers. When people call me from Airbnb, they generally say they are calling from Ireland. People who I’m corresponding with - I’ve no idea.

@faheem yes I too deal with the Ireland crew and they’re normally lovely.

You mentioned your experience has been overwhelmingly negative, so I wonder, in all the hosting you’ve done, how many of those involved a guest getting money back against your cancellation policy ? It’s happened once to me in over 60 guests (thats approximately 1.5 years of hosting).

Guest was pregnant and didn’t want to fly anymore. They got their money back. I was irritated. I didn’t get another booking but I made use of the time to complete a few jobs in the house. I got over it.

Once in 60 bookings is, for me perfectly acceptable.

EDIT: I thought I’d add that the refund issue happened in the first few months of hosting; it’s now nearly 12 months since the issue occurred and nothing similar has arisen.

It’s happened only once, but Airbnb’s behavior was quite dismaying. I don’t think depending on bad situations not to come up is really a good long term solution. It’s about attitudes and intentions.

Most of my experiences with Airbnb have involved trying to get answers to questions. I’m normally unsuccessful. Some of the responses I’ve got are extraordinary - they often seem to be coming from Mars. I often use Twitter, and those conversations are archived. I could post some of that if anyone cares.

Are these hypothetical responses to hypothetical situations ?

Curious if Air said this qualified as an extenuating circumstance. And if it didn’t qualify, did Air provide a reason if they went against your cancellation policy?

I’m not sure what you mean. As I said, I could post examples. One question was about how late I could post a guest review. Never did get an answer to that one.

Another one was about whether Airbnb would change the terms of IB from under me. I.e. could change terms without consulting me. Never did get a response to that either.

Yes it was extenuating circumstances; they provided a medical certificate to air and got a full refund.

OK…when you said she was pregnant and didn’t want to fly anymore - I was under the impression she just didn’t feel like it because she was tired/cranky or something.

So yes @faheem, hypothetical questions about hypothetical situations. I.e. What would happen if… what would your policy be if…

I don’t imagine Airbnb would do very well in these situations, it’s not their MO. If that’s what you needed from them though I can see how it would feel frustrating.

I’m someone who isn’t particularly interested in what ifs (this is probably why I hated doing a PhD)