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Cancel vacation rental and want a refund? Struggles with Airbnb over getting money back

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Posted at 5:30 AM, Aug 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-05 15:05:40-04

PHOENIX — A lot of us had to cancel vacations because of COVID-19 concerns. Vacation home rental sites like Airbnb and VRBO have been hit hard by guests wanting their deposits refunded.

While both online sites have relaxed refund policies, it can still be very hard to get money back.

Arizonan Judy Kerber and her husband planned a trip to Seattle to visit their son. They put a $342 deposit down on an apartment in January. In March, the pandemic forced them to cancel.

They first tried working with the apartment owner who thought she could give 100% back. When she could only get back a fraction of the money, Judy went to Airbnb.

The company’s policy says you can get back a 100% refund if you booked before March 14, with a check-in date of April 14 or earlier and one night must fall between March 14 and April 14. Judy seemed to meet all the criteria.

But Airbnb said she did not meet the refund restrictions and eventually said she needed to cancel within 24 hours. Judy couldn't find that anywhere in the policy, so she let me know.

We contacted Airbnb and asked why Judy couldn't get her money back. Airbnb says:

“Once COVID-19 evolved into a global pandemic, we updated our Extenuating Circumstances policy to allow guests to cancel and receive a full cash or credit refund—including all our fees–for eligible bookings made prior to March 14. We made this decision because we firmly believe that travelers should not have to choose between safety and money.”

But, they did give Judy back the rest of her deposit and now she has a complete refund.

Click here to read more about Airbnb's expanded refund policy.

Click here to read VRBO's emergency refund policy.