CHICAGO (CBS) — Some friends joined together to book a stay in Mexico next winter, before the pandemic spread across the U.S. and other countries.
When it became clear things weren’t going to work out, they figured they would get a full refund or at least a credit. But Airbnb said no dice.
CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas shared their tale of frustration Monday morning, and provided the details you should look for before booking your trip.
Beautiful Puerto Vallarta – that is where that group of friends from the city’s North Side wanted to travel on February of next year.
“Our flights would have left at 8 a.m. Thursday, February 4 – not that I’m counting or keeping track,” said Matt Simpson.
It was February of this year when from frigid Chicago, the friends booked their nine-day Airbnb stay a year ahead of time, for more than $3,000.
But a whole lot changed in the weeks and months that followed that booking.
“Unfortunately, this has just continued to drag on – you know, there’s this second surge of cases,” Simpson said.
“We all agreed it’s the wrong thing to do to go,” said Ed Soccoro. “Nine days, CDC is saying don’t go.”
So in November, they reached out to the Airbnb host about a refund. He directed them to Airbnb, and the friends canceled the trip online – thinking that would be the best first step.
Then, Airbnb told them they could only get half their money back.
“Just the runaround,” Simpson said. “You know, they’re kind of playing Airbnb versus us versus the condo owners.”
So the friends asked if they could just postpone the trip or get a credit for future use.
“We hit a dead end on that as well. They said they won’t accommodate that either,” Soccoro said. “So basically, we had no option except to accept what they were offering,”
CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg said he is not surprised, because refunds with Airbnb can sometimes be partly up to the host.
“The idea – we’re offering them come back to February of 2022 and you get to hold their money anyway, and that’s still denied?” Greenberg said. “That’s being disingenuous by the host, and that’s a problem.”
But the host isn’t the only hurdle. The friends later discovered Airbnb’s policy says you can cancel for a full refund if the booking was before March 15 – which it was – and if the check-in is “within 45 days from today” – which it wasn’t.
“Which really doesn’t make sense because, being that shortens the window for the condo owner as well to rebook that,” Soccoro said. “So it’s a lose-lose scenario in that situation.”
In other words, they canceled too early because they didn’t know about the policy.
“I feel like they’ve purposely gone in circles with us to kind of pigeonhole us into a situation,” Simpson said.
Someday, they hope to forget about the ordeal with a little fun in the sun.
We reached out to Airbnb to ask for more information. A spokesperson said they cannot refund or credit the cancellation because that money would now come out of the host’s pocket.
Rescheduling isn’t within their power either. It is at the host’s discretion.