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Watch out for This When Canceling an Airbnb Reservation

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A few weeks ago, I was working on planning for my upcoming trip to Italy when I accidentally canceled an October Airbnb reservation in Rome. I tried to backspace my way out of the cancellation, but it was too late. Within a matter of a few seconds, I received my cancellation email along with details of my refund.

My initial thought was that it was fine. I canceled the reservation more than five months ahead of time, so I qualified for a full refund. I could just get my money back and rebook. After all, I wanted this specific apartment because it came with an elevator that went from the ground floor to the condo — a rarity in ancient Rome and an important consideration since we’ll be traveling with my parents.

Unfortunately, a quick look at the details made me realize it wouldn’t be that easy. I did receive a full refund for the rental, but Airbnb apparently planned on keeping my $122 rental fee.

Getting a Refund for My Service Fee

Initially, I thought fixing this situation would be easy. All I needed to do was contact Airbnb and tell them I canceled by mistake. Then they could reinstate my reservation, right?

Unfortunately, the chat support on Airbnb told me rebooking the condo with my old reservation details wasn’t a possibility. They also said they don’t refund service fees unless a reservation was made within 48 hours and only if you haven’t canceled more than three times within the last 12 months.

I then pointed them to a page on their own website, which includes some exceptional language about Italy Airbnb rentals in particular. From the Airbnb website:

“For reservations in Italy, or reservations booked by South Korean travelers: The Airbnb Service fee is refundable up to 3 times per year, if the reservation you’re canceling doesn’t overlap with another reservation in your account.”

For some reason, I couldn’t get them to reply about this page on their website or its terms. At that point in the conversation, they simply asked if they could call me. On the phone, they said they would refund the service fee so I could rebook. Within a few minutes, I received an email stating my $122 service fee was on its way. With that assurance, I went ahead and rebooked the same apartment (for $16 less total I might add) before someone else did.

The Bottom Line

I frequently sing the praises of staying in rental condos instead of hotels — particularly for families traveling with kids. It’s great to have room to spread out, a kitchen to cook in, and more than one sleeping area so everyone can rest and enjoy the trip.

Still, I don’t have complete faith in Airbnb, nor do I trust their competitors like VRBO.com or HomeAway. They’re all there to scrape as much profit as they can from each transaction, as evidenced by their behavior the last few years and Airbnb’s loads of bad press.

If you plan to cancel an Airbnb reservation, pay close attention to the fees and whether you’re getting a full refund. If you don’t watch closely, you may lose some funds you’re entitled to.

Have you ever canceled an Airbnb reservation? Did you get a full refund?

 

[Featured Image: Shutterstock]

Holly Johnson
Holly Johnson is a financial expert and award-winning writer whose obsession with frugality, budgeting, and travel plays a central role in her work. In addition to serving as Contributing Editor for The Simple Dollar, Holly writes for inspiring…
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