I had booked an Airbnb unit with a host, but I was unable to physically access the unit due to power lines literally blocking the entire entrance/exit to the community. Turns out a hurricane two days prior had knocked it down and it had not been fixed yet. The Host knew about it and still posted it as available when it should not have been. I literally could not enter the complex. There were no additional parking areas to park and walk up to the unit either. The entrance/exit from gate post to gate post had the power line on it. I'd have to somehow step over it, I couldn't. No additional spots to park outside of the complex, tons of signs surrounding the property about Tow Away Zones.

The Host said they did not know how to refund my money on their end, but if I canceled it, they would be able do it that way. So I did, but received only $90 out of $450. I requested the remaining balance but he has refused to refund me. I have all of this in writing from the Host. Especially where the Host informed me he knew about the power lines. And pictures.

I also immediately called Support within 30 of reaching out to the Host about the safety issue. Customer Support said they wouldn't give me a refund because I chose to cancel the reservation. I was told that I had forfeited any right to ask for a refund. But I did not choose to cancel, it was the Host who told me that was the only way to get a refund. But the Customer Support said it was up to the Host. That has to be a lie.

I am desperate and devastated that all aspects of Airbnb are not doing the right thing. How to get a FULL refund at this point? Please advise.

  • I even rented another unit from someone else that day. I needed a place to stay. I did that before I was denied a refund. So it's not like I went somewhere else because I secretly did not want the unit when I got there. I've always been an excellent customer. And I've used Airbnb a lot.
  • My bank would not help me at all.
  • 3
    Wait, was it only the parking lot that was blocked or the actual entrance to the unit? If it was only the parking lot then you'd have a much harder time.
    – JonathanReez
    Nov 18, 2022 at 18:00
  • 2
    Can you clarify what exactly you mean by "bank would not help"? The obvious solution would be to request a card chargeback due to services not rendered. Have you already tried that and failed?
    – TooTea
    Nov 18, 2022 at 18:59
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    @JonathanReez Stepping over a power line to access the unit is not acceptable, even if you could park around the corner and walk to it. Nov 18, 2022 at 23:37
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    @AzorAhai-him- It's unclear to me if it was the pedestrian access that was blocked or just the access for cars, as OP states that There were no additional parking areas to park. If you could park elsewhere (say, a paid garage nearby) and enter the complex without stepping over a power line, you'd be entitled to some compensation but not a full refund.
    – JonathanReez
    Nov 18, 2022 at 23:39
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    Your bank should be able to help you refute/dispute the credit card charge. You just need to use the wording "fraudulent behaviour" it ought to get them a little on their toes.
    – JoSSte
    Nov 20, 2022 at 0:31

3 Answers 3


You made a mistake by cancelling but obviously the host tricked you into doing so.

At this point, the best you can do is to be persistent with both AirBnB and the host.

Tell the host that you will leave 1 star reviews wherever you can leave one and that you will file a complaint against him with AirBnB (see https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/2838/#:~:text=You%20can%20submit%20a%20complaint,with%20you%20within%2096%20hours.) for fraudulent behavior unless he issues a full refund immediately. State clearly that the host has violated AirBnB policies: see https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/326 "I don't know how to refund" is not an argument: AirrBnB spells out how to do this https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/165

Contact the AirBnB again and try a different agent. Mention that the host violated AirBnB policy and in addition lied to you. Elevate to a manager if you have to. You can threaten to dispute the credit card charge. In my experience AirBnB is "customer friendly" in this regard. We had a last minute cancellation and after some negotiation we not only got a full refund but also a nice voucher out of it. Your case is even more severe: showing up in front of an accommodation that's not usable should be huge red flag for AirBnB.

  • 9
    That form seems to be for hosts, only in the EEA and the UK, and for a very narrow set of complaints (reservation related not among them). Perhaps this is more relevant? airbnb.com/resolutions
    – GoodDeeds
    Nov 18, 2022 at 13:34

TLDR: you made some basic mistakes but have a saving grace in a subtle AirBnB policy the host may not have known about how to use.

ALL requests that the customer cancel are a scam

The Host said they did not know how to refund my money on their end, but if I canceled it, they would be able do it that way.

That is standard Host manipulative deception. Here's why.

All these marketplaces charge a referral fee to the host, require consumer protection (they can't rip you off) and there's a long delay to get paid (so you have time to report ripoffs and they can withhold the host's payment if they rip you off). To evade all these, hosts want to talk you off the marketplace and do business privately. To deter this, the marketplace charges hosts for canceling.

The marketplace also punishes hosts for frequent canceling by stripping "gold host" status, reducing rating, lowering rank in search results or even banning the host.

These fees and punishments do not land if the customer cancels.

As such, hosts always, always, always want the customer to cancel the booking, simply to keep their "gold host" status. The marketplace still wants to be paid and has every right to charge somebody.

As a customer on these marketplaces, you must know this dirty trick and never cancel.

The marketplace has in-app messaging. The host always wants to move the discussion to another forum - email, text, whatever. That's because the in-app messages will be reviewed by Customer Service in time of a dispute. If CS sees the host telling a customer to cancel, the host will be "busted". So of course you previously "went private" with your communication at their request and you agreed to that.

I have all of this in writing from the Host. Especially where the Host informed me he knew about the power lines. And pictures.

But not in AirBnB's messaging system. Email has no viable security. Screenshots of texts are easy to fake. The marketplace's internal messaging system is secure, The marketplace doesn't want to be in the middle on a "fake email" argument, so they don't want to hear about outside communication.

Those "terms of service" you never read? They mean stuff

I'm sure as a modern consumer, you have 100 accounts on 100 sites. All of them made you sign a Terms of Service. I didn't read the Starbucks App one, because a cup of coffee is too inconsequential to matter. That's almost always true on these online apps. Right? So you develop a Pavlovian response to just mash the Agree button.

Well, that stuff matters when it's NOT a cup of coffee.

So one way of looking at it is, "At the time, I thought the small chance of a $360 loss was like a cup of coffee - not large enough to justify 40 minutes swimming through the legalese and many tangled pages of AirBnB's policies and terms". Think about it: That logic is Not Entirely Wrong. You might consider staying with your original decision and writing it off as the inherent risk of dealing with these person-to-person marketplaces instead of reputable hotel chains. People on eBay and Amazon Marketplace can rip you off, and you still buy there.

Otherwise, if you want to litigate this, well, you need to read the Terms of Service now. Wait, you still would rather pay $360 then bore through all that legalese? Well, that only validates my last paragraph.

Your case is weak, but ... maybe

As you might guess, a reading of the Terms of Service will not be kind to your case. In particular, the Rebooking and Refund policy clearly states what to do about your situation. You have a Travel Issue which is covered under "Host fails to provide access to the accommodation". You should have asked for rebooking assistance or a refund.

You may yet find help in their Extenuating Circumstances Policy, since the booking was immediately after a hurricane. Note that it says Guests that are impacted by an event covered by this Policy can cancel their reservation (and receive benefits).

And I suspect one of the functions of the Extenuating Circumstances Policy is to avoid punishing hosts for circumstances beyond their control.

But you can always blow it up on social media

After all, at the heart of the matter, social justice is with you.

Just be careful not to lay the blame entirely on one party. After all, as far as AirBnB being a scammer, you did not read the terms (or you would have known what to do).

And most of all, be scrupulously accurate to actual facts. E.g. don't say "they are cheaters" say "I feel cheated". People do sometimes get sued for defamation; as long as the statements are accurate your defense is solid.

I have my doubts that the host is a professional scammer who scams everyone. A scammer can hardly arrange for power lines to fall across the entrance to their community. However they certainly knew how to play the hosting "game", and had you "all cued up to be scammed" by previously convincing you to communicate privately (i.e. off the AirBnB platform). And they understood the importance of tricking you into canceling. So they made themselves "scam-ready".

So I would write a middle-of-road appeal that blames the host for scamming but AirBnB for botching the handling of your case. After all, AirBnB knows damn well the physical location of the rental, and knows a 100 year hurricane just rolled through. They should have said "Oh, you did the cancellation through the incorrect procedure, let me fix that".

  • 2
    OP failed to escalate customer service into providing some, +1. Keep swearing and getting louder until someone says, let me fix that for you. This isn't Craig's List. This is a real company with a phone number... use it.
    – Mazura
    Nov 20, 2022 at 23:25

Hilmar's answer is where I would start but if pestering doesn't work this is the sort of thing small claims court was made for. Telling the host you will be taking it to court might also convince them to just do the refund -- hosts like that are just hoping you'll drop the matter and typically fold to persistence quickly.

Disclaimer: not a lawyer, I would see if there's any free legal advice in your area you can contact before you go that route.

  • If you live in a different country than the host, this probably has little chance of success.
    – Hilmar
    Nov 18, 2022 at 20:17
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    @Hilmar I've successfully sued somebody in a different country via small claims: they settled as soon as they got the claim letter. (Which was fortunate, because it would not have been worth it to fly over to attend court in person!) Nov 19, 2022 at 1:15

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