chris elliott.

Why won’t Airbnb cover my hotel expenses? They promised!

When David Tuttle’s Airbnb host moves him to a different rental, Airbnb offers to cover his hotel expenses, but a month has passed since. Where’s the money?

  • By Wire Service
  • Saturday, April 6, 2024 1:30am
  • Life

Q: I booked an Airbnb in Las Vegas recently. Just before I checked in, the host did a bait and switch, sending me to a different address from the one on the property listing. The new location was not clean and not comparable to the original listing. I also felt unsafe.

I called Airbnb’s customer service that night and sent them some pictures and a video of the location. I spoke with a customer service representative who told me to book a hotel and assured me that Airbnb would reimburse me in full. She did this by phone and by email through the Airbnb platform.

I have sent the receipt for my hotel stay and parking, but Airbnb has not reimbursed me yet. It’s been almost a month since my trip. I think they should also compensate me for my stress and time at this point. Can you help me get a refund from Airbnb?

— David Tuttle, Grants Pass, Oregon

A: You should have received the rental you booked, not a replacement, and definitely not a lesser rental that made you feel unsafe. It looks like Airbnb agreed with you and offered to cover your hotel expenses.

Airbnb addresses this under its AirCover guarantee, which says that if your listing is “significantly different” than advertised, and your host can’t resolve the issue, then Airbnb will help you find a similar place. “If a similar place isn’t available or you’d prefer not to rebook, we’ll give you a full or partial refund,” it adds.

I reviewed the correspondence between you and Airbnb. I’m concerned that Airbnb appears to offer to cover your hotel, but later changes its tune and offers you a coupon for a future stay. An Airbnb credit was a generous offer, but only if combined with Airbnb’s original offer to cover your hotel expenses.

You did an excellent job of keeping records. When you checked in, you took photos and videos that documented the condition of the condo. You also recorded your interactions on the Airbnb platform and took notes on your phone calls. When things start to go sideways with a travel company, you really need to get in touch with your inner accountant. Take notes, collect invoices and receipts, and document everything. If you don’t, you may not have enough evidence to make your case.

You could have appealed this to one of the executive contacts at Airbnb, who I list on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. I should note that your case was really confusing. Airbnb opened multiple threads with you without closing them, which added to the complexity of this case and maybe delayed your resolution.

When a representative offers something like covering your hotel expenses, you have to make sure that you get it in writing (which you did) and that it’s noted in your reservation. It looks like fixing this would have required someone from Airbnb to manually review all the threads and figure out who authorized the refund.

The other thing that may have been a factor in the slow response was that you requested additional money for pain and suffering. While that’s certainly understandable, it’s typically not something a company would do unless ordered by a court. I have also seen requests like this delay a refund.

You reached out to my advocacy team for help. I asked Airbnb about your money. Airbnb called you, and after some negotiation, it offered you $1,674, which is the cost of the hotel stay, minus the parking fee. You accepted Airbnb’s offer.

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy (elliottadvocacy.org), a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at chris@elliott.org or get help by contacting him at elliottadvocacy.org/help.

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