Steep cost to Airbnb long-term cancellation policy

A Surprise woman says she canceled an Airbnb reservation 90 minutes after making it and it still cost her $1,700. She...

Posted: Dec 21, 2017 8:42 AM
Updated: Dec 21, 2017 8:42 AM

A Surprise woman says she canceled an Airbnb reservation 90 minutes after making it and it still cost her $1,700. She made the costly mistake of not knowing one particular Airbnb policy.

It's natural to think if you cancel a reservation the same day you make it and you're not scheduled to arrive at the host's property for several months, you won't owe much, or any, money. But that's not how the Airbnb long-term cancellation policy works.

Karen Montoya wanted to spend a month in Oregon for some rest and relaxation. She booked a nice place in Portland on Airbnb for a total of $1,760. A couple hours later, her husband came home.

"So I showed it to him and he said, 'You gotta keep looking,' he said, 'I don't want to be that far over in Portland, I want to be closer to Oregon City,'" Montoya said.

Montoya canceled on the spot and since her trip wasn't scheduled for three months, she expected to owe very little. But Airbnb charged her card almost the entire amount as a cancellation fee.

"Well, I understood that it would be flexible, and they're not flexible," Montoya said.

Many Airbnb properties do offer flexibility when it comes to canceling, but if the stay is 28 nights or more, Airbnb says the long-term cancellation policy applies; no exceptions. It states the first month's payment is non-refundable. So, since Montoya's scheduled stay was for one month, she owed the full amount even though she was 90 days out and canceled the same day she booked.

"I've never seen anybody that didn't put some kind of a policy, a refund policy, cancellation policy, return policy, right there where you can find it," Montoya said.

Airbnb does list the long-term policy in many places - including the payment page. Montoya just missed it. She warns other Airbnb guests to pay better attention than she did.

"They need to check what the host's policy is before they sign up," Montoya said.

Again, it doesn't matter how far in advance you book a long-term stay on Airbnb, you will owe the first month's payment if you cancel. Period. Airbnb says the host, at their discretion, can agree to a refund, but they are under no obligation to do so.

CBS 5 News wishes to offer special thanks to Airbnb. They did nothing wrong in this case, but made an exception and refunded Montoya's $1,760 and gave her a credit for future travel. Airbnb went above and beyond what was necessary for this case and Montoya and CBS 5 News appreciate the gesture.

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