Would you refund?

I had a guest book from the 22nd through the holidays, at in increased holiday rate, strict cancellation policy. She called and texted last night, sounding happy, saying they were in town early, and could they stay a few more additional days. I responded that unfortunately, I already have a guest so they couldn’t check in earlier, but I looked forward to meeting her in a few ays. My suspicion is they booked elsewhere for the entire stay. But this morning I get a message to contact her urgently, followed by a cancellation shortly after. She just emailed and requested a refund because her father passed away so she won’t be celebrating Christmas/her wedding here. (No previous mention of wedding.) I respond that I’m so sorry about what she is going through, but that I do rely on the funds I receive from the rental unit, and especially because there’s so little time to book before the holidays, I can’t give her a straight refund, but that I’ll immediately re-list the property, and if I manage to rebook it, refund her for the difference.

She’s complaining though, and I’m feeling pretty grinchy. Honestly, if I believed her, I’d probably refund it. But I just don’t. But I guess there’s the chance she’s being truthful. And it is Christmas, etc. I dunno. What would you do? I mean, is it even worse to ask for “proof?” I don’t want to come off like an ass. It just seems so implausible to me that in all our communications, she hasn’t mentioned a wedding. And that just last night she was happily requesting to extend her stay a few more days on the front end.

Tell her to go through Airbnb. If she is being truthful she will get a refund under their extenuating circumstances. You don’t have to deal with it.


Hi @annanyc

From what you say I fear you might be right. However, I am not sure from your post why you are talking to her about this directly rather than referring her to Airbnb to deal with.

I do hope you are keeping all communications on Airbnb messaging so there is a record of what has been said.

Just confirm that if you gain a replacement booking you would be happy to consider a refund depending on how many days the replacement booking is for.

As you know you don’t need to ask for ‘proof’. If she makes a claim under extenuating circumstances Airbnb will ask for proof and will refund her if she provides it.and unfortunately you will end up out of pocket.

Do wander over to Airbnb Help Centre and look up their information on cancellation due to extenuating circumstances.


Thanks. I directed her to the AirBnb portal. Makes me feel a lot better. I don’t want to be a terrible person. If she really lost her father the weekend before Christmas and her wedding… wow. I definitely don’t want to pile on there. And far better for them to ask for verification as part of a standardized process than for me to insinuate any skepticism. Now to just hope I can get some or all of the days rebooked…

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As I have related elsewhere… I just had a booking cancel for the two week holiday period. My prime time!!! She blocked my calendar for two months while I was out buying stuff based on her booking.

Also a supposed medical emergency. Waiting on paperwork now.

Do NOT refund her. If her story is true, at least to Airbnb standards, they will do it.

In any event refunding early voluntarily will result in a dock of your NEXT payout. This means you are fronting the refund for someone who is no longer a customer.

I’ve fallen for numerous sob stories over the years. No longer!! ! Don’t let them guilt you into anything. You held it for her, she canceled. No reason to refund even if you rebook. That’s a bunch of trouble and you should be allotted the chance to earn twice from the canceled booking period.

But like you, Christmas is very close and the chances of getting a replacement booking now, as I am a fly in destination, are slim to none.


We’re all different but I’m with you on this. My flexible cancellation policy has a lot to do with my beliefs and my feelings. I commend you for doing what you feel is right. I hope you get a great replacement booking.

I don’t want to be terrible either… but if my relative died and I had an Airbnb reservation, I would make sure that I would adhere to the rules and terms I signed off on.

I have told the story before of the guy who asked for a refund because his grampa died and he had to cancel his trip to Hawaii. I did it, not wanting to be a terrible person. Well, what do I discover when I do some sleuthing but that this same guest had come to Hawaii anyway, and had simp,y found another place to stay and ditched me, and I fell for it.

Makes ya jaded, y’know?

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Everyone has to do what they have to do. I don’t think you’re terrible. I was just giving kudos to nycanna.

Based on the posts here it doesn’t seem like too many people have the same philosophy I have. I’m sure it doesn’t make the most sense financially but I hear a different drum. (I’ll die as broke as Ann will die alone. LOL. )


Oh yeah- I didn’t mean to write my post in a way that sounded judgey of anyone else. And if she’s not telling the truth, I really don’t see any reason to refund her. I can be pretty skeptical and I am this time. But I also have this niggling doubt because “what if” her implausible story is true. If so, I’d want to give her the refund, so I’m thankful that there’s a third party mediator to help determine what’s what, if it comes to that.

I also get how experience with people lying could definitely help make me even more skeptical. I hope you manage another booking, kona. The cancellations of peak bookings are the most painful for sure…

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If you want to avoid going through Air, you can ask to see the death certificate. You are not terrible or insensitive to ask for one. This is what they are for.

But honestly, it is easier to just direct the guest to Air, where they are set up to deal with the extenuating.

I probably I’ll not get another booking this late, sadly.

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I think I have mentioned my standard response to cancellation requests, but I’ll repost it here, as it applies to a multitude of possibilities.

I am sorry to hear about xxxx. Unfortunately, I am not able to cancel reservations on behalf of a guest, and refunds are determined by AirBnB’s policies. If you would like to contact them, they can be reached by phone at xxx-xxxx, or by email at xxxx@xxxx.com.

The only thing I would change is providing the phone number. Once they cancel, they are not your customer, so let them find the number on their own. They are Airbnb’s problem now. Sounds heartless, but how cancelling on a host is pretty heartless. And everyone has a so called good reason for doing so.

I basically say the same thing except I also mention that they may want to check their credit card for the travel insurance feature.


Not heartless, but perhaps short sighted. I’m completely of the opinion that if a guest wants to cancel, it’s their responsibility to contact AirBnB and take care of it, but good lord, it is no work at all to give them AirBnB’s phone number in your reply! It might even speed up the process!

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I think some people think that they are the only ones who make these stories up; it couldn’t possibly happen to anyone else so they will get away with it. Call me a hardened old cynic but after 30 years as a public sector manager… Even an HR colleague would so regularly pull such a tall story, the rest of us in the management team would run a book on how long she’d be away, with what excuse this time. Every two years she went back to Jamaica on holiday to see her family. Her grandma died twice (okay, so maybe she had two), she had a serious car accident, then Dengue fever. It became a standing joke but her own manager was too weak to manage her absences properly.


I had a lady call two weeks out saying her son had been given a month to live. She said she was too upset to deal with cancellation and asked me to do it for her. I did it for her with no penalty. I guess her son recovered because she booked another place nearby. I think I would have felt better if she’d at least said it was her grandpa instead of her son.


WOW! That is really low! I would never use my own family like that. :astonished: