BOOKING an Airbnb property can be a great way to get a cheap stay on holiday, and many holidaymakers using the service have found bargain deals.
But some unlucky guests have found their bookings cancelled at the last minute, forcing them to spend thousands of pounds on replacement accommodation.
A recent investigation by CBC revealed how Airbnb guests have found their bookings cancelled at the last minute and how it could all be part of a scam.
One guest, David Jackel, paid $1,300 (£988) for five weeks in Mexico months in advance. However just days before their check-in, the host cancelled.
At the last minute, the only good alternative was $6,000 (£4500) more on Airbnb.
Airbnb offered similarly priced alternatives, but they didn’t compare in their appearance, even if they were similar in price.
David was given just 10 per cent of his deposit – $92 (£70) – as compensation to use towards his new booking.
Other Airbnb guests have complained of similar issues on social media.
One said: “Airbnb freaking unexpectedly cancelled our reservation for our trip for NO reason and NO heads up, and now there are no more affordable apartments or hotels available during that time hdjakcnwldkak is this even allowed????”
Another said: “@Airbnb my Airbnb cancelled on me and everything is way more expensive now. That’s sh*thouse, I want comped, and you should boot the host.”
One Twitter user had to pay the majority of the difference: “Had my accommodation booked through @Airbnb cancelled.
“It cost me an extra £130 to find a replacement. What did Airbnb do? Offer me a £20 voucher!”
What happens if your booking is cancelled at the last minute
If your booking is cancelled at the last minute, you can choose to either transfer the payment to a new reservation on the website or to get a full refund.
However, if you do transfer your booking and it happens to be a more expensive property, you will most likely have to cover the majority of the difference in price, which can often be expensive as it’s last minute.
Airbnb explain on their website: “We may help by covering a portion of the difference.
“If your new reservation costs more than your original reservation plus the credit, you’ll need to pay the difference.”
Experts say that the reason behind the last minute cancellations could be because of a scam.
Travel blogger, Asher Ferguson explained: “It is often connected to a scam where a host has different listings on Airbnb and maybe other rental websites.
“They list them at different price points and when the lower price point is taken over by the higher price, they cancel the lower price point guest because they make more money and they do it last minute.”
Airbnb explain on their website that they charge hosts $100 (£76) more on their next payout if they cancel last minute.
However, this penalty may be less than the money they will make from a more expensive booking on another website.
Dan Webber, founder of Airbnbhell.com advises people to contact the host and ask them questions if they are left in the lurch, while Asher said to stay with hosts who only have five star rating and use Superhosts who are less likely to cancel.
Superhosts lose their status for a year if they cancel, according to Airbnb.
A spokesperson for Airbnb told Sun Online Travel: ““With over 2 million guests checking into an Airbnb every single night and over half a billion people having travelled on Airbnb to date, last minute cancellations are incredibly rare.
“In the unlikely event they do happen, we will help guests find another place to stay and transfer funds to a new listing or provide a full refund.
“To reduce cancellations, we have a penalty system in place, which includes a blocked calendar for those dates, automatic review postings and fees.”
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However horror stories are common for both guests and hosts – one host found their £1.3 million flat trashed after their booking had a large party.
In another terrifying tale, a guest found a hidden camera in the flat which was not disclosed when they booked.