NewsTeam 10 Investigates


Frustration grows among Airbnb customers looking for refund

Posted at 6:22 PM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 21:22:12-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Shannon Gearing was supposed to travel to Italy for a wedding in late May. She was traveling through London and booked an Airbnb rental.

As the situation with coronavirus worsened and Italy became the epicenter of the pandemic, Gearing canceled her trip.

“Our friends, when Italy got very serious, they started quarantining there. They had to cancel, postpone the wedding. Date unknown,” Gearing said.

She requested her $400 deposit be returned to her, but the host refused. After that, she went through what she called an escalation policy with Airbnb.

“I got every answer from the host doesn’t want to give you a refund so you’re not getting a refund. When I pointed out the extenuating circumstances cancellation on [the website], they said I didn’t fall into it,” Gearing told Team 10.

She asked what the specific policy was when she canceled March 18, but the support staff would only say it was “different.”

Gearing also said the Airbnb representative asked for documentation regarding travel restrictions from specific governments. In the correspondence Gearing showed Team 10, the representative wrote if Gearing had “an official document, issued by the Government, British or American, where restrictions include the dates you booked, me and my team will review the decision.”

During the time when Gearing canceled, an archive search of Airbnb’s website showed the cancelation policy applied to travel reservations from mid-March to mid-April. The policy has since been extended to check-in dates between March 14 and June 15, 2020.

Gearing was upset she was not given a clear answer from the beginning.

“There’s so many different reasons that we’ve been given to not get a refund, I think that’s the disappointing part,” Gearing said.

An Airbnb spokesperson said in part, their “Extenuating Circumstances policy aims to strike a balance and protect the well-being of both hosts and guests.”