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24 November 2020

Airbnb and Bachcare cancellation terms risk breaching Fair Trading Act

We’re calling out Airbnb and Bachcare for their unfair cancellation policies.

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VL P.
13 Sep 2021
I can agree to something then break my word, causing damage to someone if I feel like it. Yeah right.

Morality is keeping to your word. Not breaking it. If you make a contract where you have AGREED to NO REFUND, it is DISHONEST to then try to break it by demanding a refund.

Travellers have the option of (a) getting travel insurance or (b) not booking.

Hosts have NO such choices. We cannot insure. We cannot choose not to accept bookings from greedy selfish entitled people who think a contract is only a contract if it suits them.

Everyone is bleating about the poor travellers. Well, actually, the money they agreed to be NOT REFUNDED is DISPOSABLE.

Hosts have no such luxury. Many of us are poorer than the greedy travellers and we rent our places because we NEED to. If the travellers leave us without an income by booking then cancelling, our mortgage is unpaid. I for one do not want people who book then cancel. That is why I have 100% non refund (which AirBNB changed without consulting me, leaving me in serious trouble by giving my mortgage money to renters - a PUBLICITY STUNT).

Have some balance Consumer. Put your money where your mouth is, YOU pay the travellers their money back, if you feel so sorry for them that you feel that hosts should be ripped off.

For my part, I will refund 100% if I am unable to fulfil the contract - if my house is not available - I will take the loss. I will not offer a refund if my house is available, and the Traveller is unable or unwilling to fulfil the contract - I have done my part of the contract, they take the loss. THAT is fair. My prices on AirBNB are far higher to compensate for the risk of cancellation. And I am looking at de-listing with AirBNB whose 1-week cancellation policy attracts tyre kickers and loses me the income I need from my only asset.

Barbara G.
28 Nov 2020
Cancellation policy is clearly known by the booking party when booking

Hosts are able to choose a cancellation policy for their listing based on a set of options. (See below)
These are clearly displayed and known when someone books the property. i.e. You have a choice NOT to stay somewhere with a strict no cancellation listing when you make your booking.

For example when I went to the Edinburgh Festival last year I found the majority of places had a strict cancellation policy - i.e. no refund under any circumstances. Needless to say I looked harder and found a place with a more flexible policy - just in case, specially when booking months ahead! Airbnb has since softened this option as noted below - it used to be no refund under any circumstances or advance notice.

From my own experience I know that Airbnb penalises a host for cancelling a guest's booking (even when the host has never done it before and when giving the guest several weeks' notice to find somewhere else), and strips the host of their superhost status.
So Airbnb can be hard on the host too.

Cancellation policy
For stays under 28 nights, you can choose which cancellation options to offer guests.
Flexible - Full refund 1 day prior to arrival
Flexible or Non-refundable - In addition to Flexible, offer a non-refundable option—guests pay 10% less, but you keep your payout no matter when they cancel.

Moderate - Full refund 5 days prior to arrival
Moderate or Non-refundable - In addition to Moderate, offer a non-refundable option—guests pay 10% less, but you keep your payout no matter when they cancel.

Strict - Full refund for cancellations made within 48 hours of booking, if the check-in date is at least 14 days away. 50% refund for cancellations made at least 7 days before check-in. No refunds for cancellations made within 7 days of check-in.
Strict or Non-refundable - In addition to Strict, offer a non-refundable option—guests pay 10% less, but you keep your payout no matter when they cancel.

Ray M.
28 Nov 2020
The hosts lose too.

I've had to cancel AirBNBs and other accommodation for a number of reasons from a death in the family to Covid. I've always found the hosts to be reasonable no matter which 'cancellation policy they were using but would have accepted if they applied the rules I signed up for.
I think the law should not allow a host to effectively get paid twice but it should also not allow users to cancel last minute for no reason or cost. I know some people who book several places and only cancel quite late when they choose one or even change their mind based on the long range weather forecast! If the host can not re-sell the nights they lose income. Is it any more fair to have them lose than the user who was told before they bought what the policy is?
People need to accept some responsibility for their own actions.

Sylvia J.
28 Nov 2020
A Hosts Point of View

I believe refunds policies should be reviewed. I was an Airbnb Host and Hosts can choose to refund even though Airbnb says No. I went to strict cancellation policy because guests were booking multiple accommodations then cancelling close to the time after they had chosen which one to go with and they received full refunds and the Hosts could be left with no earning and it being too late to book another guest which is also unfair. After moving to strict cancellation policy I invariably still refunded guests in full who needed to cancel for whatever reasons trying to be fair even though some of the reasons were dubious. If it was a few days out from the booking I tended to still charge approx $25-$50 depending on how close to the booked nights it was so I didn't miss out on earning something. Hosts do have costs in preparing rooms eg cleaning. If it was more than 7 days out then I tended to ask Airbnb to give a full refund and hope I could rebook. Airbnb sometimes also waived their fee and sometimes they didn't but I didn't have control over what they did. But Hosts have full control over how they manage their Business and whether they refund or don't. Most do I think. I had a booking for Dec this year then because of Covid they cancelled. I asked Airbnb to give a full refund because of the circumstances which they did and they also agreed to refund their fee as well. I have since closed my Airbnb. So the Hosts themselves have the power to over-ride the policy and grant a refund. It is not just the Airbnb organisation who makes these decisions. Please look fairly at all sides of the argument. On the flip side I have had bookings myself with Hotels in the past and had to cancel and did not receive refunds so I hope you are including these in your investigations as well.

Lance G.
28 Nov 2020
Cancellation fees

What the *** Seems these air B&B owners perceive themselves they are above everyone else , i have booked many a room on- booking dot com - expedia etc with motels , lodges etc and almost always got a full refund even the last one i just had to cancel one week out !! if you are in the business of suppling very short term rental accommodation of course you cannot expect 100% of your bookings to be fulfilled, you should refund even moraly as good will ! and get happy return customers plus everyone they know

Mike B.
25 Nov 2020
More than one aspect......

There are two sides to a cancellation. If you are a property owner, accept a booking which takes the property off the market, and then have it cancelled for whatever reason, you may not be able to re-let the property. If you were to refund the payment for the let then you are losing income - is that fair? If you were to subsequently re-let the property for some or all of the period with no loss of income then ‘fairness’ could dictate that a refund is due and reasonable - ie. double dipping would be avoided. People who let property should not be expected to pick up the costs of other peoples situations!

HM
21 Aug 2021
but...Covid

Someone cancelling because they change their mind is very different to a Covid lockdown in which they have no choice. Ultimately, you are not providing the product/service so they should be refunded in my mind. I have been both a host and renter. As a host, I once fully refunded a booking due to a storm as did not feel comfortable keeping someone's money when they could not use the property due to events out of their control.

Nelson B.
24 Nov 2020
air bnb refunds

full refunds from airbnb are at the discretion of the host. When a guest cancels airbnb will message the host giving an option for the host to provide a full refund. If the host does not, that is the hosts choice.

Peter I.
28 Nov 2020
The host’s choice to refund?

Therein lies the problem. It shouldn’t be the host’s choice, it should be “the law’s” choice. What is fair and reasonable should be defined, laid out and understood by all involved.