Wrong address on my Airbnb rental — can I get a refund?

Karen Wall bails on her Airbnb Paris rental after her host switches apartments and she can’t access the unit early. Does she deserve a refund?

Question: I booked an apartment in Paris on Airbnb recently. At the last moment, the host gave me a different address and said “‘it’s the same street.” But it wasn’t the same apartment.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services. Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

I decided I didn’t have much choice, even though it was suspicious. When I arrived after a transatlantic trip, I knew I couldn’t get into the apartment until 2 p.m. But I had heavy luggage, so went to see if I could drop it off if the current tenants were still there.

The owner was at work and couldn’t be contacted. I had instructions to pick up the key at a nearby building, which I did. The key did not fit the apartment door, or indeed any doors around.

Tired and at a loss, with no backup provided by the host, I sent her a cancellation and got a hotel nearby. I offered to pay the first night’s rent but neither the host nor Airbnb would refund the remainder.

Now Airbnb is ignoring me, as is the host. I can’t even leave a warning review since the reservation has been removed. I am out $500 plus the considerably more I had to pay for a hotel. What can I do? — Karen Wall, Edmonton, Canada

Answer: Your Airbnb host shouldn’t have switched your apartment. But you also kind of changed the rules of the game by showing up early for your rental.

For those of you who haven’t made that transatlantic flight, here’s what you can expect:

After half a day on a plane, your flight arrives in the early morning. It’s still the middle of the night back home. You’re thoroughly exhausted and you just want to sleep.

Karen, I don’t blame you for wanting to leave your luggage in your rental. I would, too.

When I reviewed your case, it looked as if your Airbnb host had failed to give you the accommodations you’d reserved, so I wanted to find out what had happened.

There are no provisions I can find for a host swapping out one Airbnb rental for another. But the issue is addressed in Airbnb’s guest refund policy. It stipulates that Airbnb will either provide you with a refund or use reasonable efforts to “find and book you at another comparable accommodation for any unused nights left in your reservation.” In order to receive that, you must make a claim within 24 hours of your check-in. It appears that instead, you took matters into your own hands, booked a hotel, and got on with your vacation — again, a very understandable thing to do.

But by failing to contact Airbnb, you forfeited your right to compensation under the terms of your booking (you had selected a unit with the “strict” cancellation policy.)

Airbnb technically did the right thing by denying your refund, but it didn’t feel right. You could have contacted someone higher up at Airbnb to press your case. I list the names, numbers and emails of Airbnb’s customer service executives on my consumer advocacy site. But knowing what I know now, it probably wouldn’t have done much good.

By the time I’d investigated the terms, the ball was already rolling on a favorable resolution for you. My advocacy team had some misgivings about your case, because we knew we influenced this ending. Airbnb apologized to you, refunded the rest of your reservation ($1,053) and offered you a $150 coupon for a future Airbnb stay. That’s a more than generous resolution.

8 thoughts on “Wrong address on my Airbnb rental — can I get a refund?

  1. I think the compensation was 100% appropriate. OP had a non responsive host, they changed the address (big no no and grounds for immediate refund) and you never stayed at the rental. I’m a fan of Airbnb but I’m not a fan of the hard 24 hour cutoff for problem resolution and think Airbnb did the right thing by making an exception in this case.

  2. The right thing happened here – she was absolutely due that compensation.

    I’ve recently become a fan of AirBnb – my husband and I traveled all over Scotland and Ireland this summer, staying in AirBnbs the whole way. I also just returned from a week in Connecticut, where I stayed in a beautiful restored Victorian home for a week. I could not be happier with how every one of my stays worked out. One of the best parts of AirBnb is the constant communication with the hosts. My hosts always responded to any question I sent them almost immediately. Even during their work day, or at night.

    There were several problems with this case.

    First, the fact that this host was unavailable to her guest on check-in day is troubling. Yes, she arrived early…but that does not excuse the lack of response. If you’re going to be an AirBnb host, you need to make yourself available to your guests, especially on arrival and departure days.

    Second, changing the apartment. The OP was entitled to stay at the apartment she reserved and pre-paid for. AirBnb listings provide detailed information, including pictures, so renters can choose exactly what they want. It’s inappropriate to charge someone for one place, then put them in another…especially on such short notice. And the fact that there WAS a change in apartment on such short notice makes the host’s lack of availability even more problematic.

    Then there’s the fact that the key didn’t work. That right there is a deal-breaker. She couldn’t even get INTO the apartment!

    I’m glad she got a full reimbursement, although it shouldn’t have taken so long for that to happen. The facts are that a) her apartment was changed at the last minute, and b) the key didn’t even work. Those two issues right there should have resulted in an immediate refund decision.

  3. “My advocacy team had some misgivings about your case, because we knew we influenced this ending.”

    You should have not needed to influence the case and might not have had to if she had followed AirBnB’s policy but in this case you got the outcome that should have happened – she didn’t get the apartment she paid for so she should have received a full refund.

    It’s a shame that everyone doesn’t read the terms to find out what they need to do in cases like this but there should not have been any hesitation on AirBnB’s part – the landlord did a bait and switch on her.

  4. Was the apartment not the one in the picture on the Airbnb site? I ask because of my experience last week. I had arranged late arrival for my Airbnb in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The host texted me, and (my bad of course) I read only the last few lines of the lengthy text that said to text him when I got there and he would meet me. Meanwhile, Airbnb sent me a message with an address on Burgundy Street – very large font so it seemed legit. When I got to NO around 10pm, I took a cab to that address and texted the owner that I was waiting outside. Where I waited… and waited… I never felt unsafe but there was not a lot going on in that part of town. Finally he called me, wondering where I was. We realized that Airbnb had given me the wrong address. The correct address, on Decatur Street, was in the first few lines of his text. He said he has had this problem with Airbnb for a while, giving guests the wrong address. But the correct address is the one that is pictured in my reservation.

    Lovely place by the way – 100% as advertised and if I ever get back to New Orleans I would probably stay there again. Also, regarding the early arrival – of course it depends on whether someone was still in the unit, but it never hurts to ask. The checkout time on the condo was 11am and my flight was at 8pm. I asked my host if I could stay until 5pm and he said no problem and didn’t charge me.

  5. One issue just briefly touched on is the host switching units at the last minute. While Airbnb allows this, IMHO it is total crap. I have had this happen to me once with Airbnb and it didn’t leave me feeling happy. As consumers, we need to be very clear about this deceptive practice and immediately decline the switch.

    1. Usually I would agree. I did have an experience in Georgia (the country) where a host at the last minute had a family emergency and was unable to accommodate me for a planned one night stay. I learned about when speaking to her from the vehicle from the airport to the city. Instead she arranged for me to stay at her parents’ place, while her parents spent the night with friends since they had no extra rooms. At least that was the story, and judging from the distressed and apologetic tone of voice, it seemed believable. Under the circumstances I was happy to accept the nearby switch, and appreciated that she hadn’t just canceled, refunded, and left me to find a place on my own.

  6. She didn’t get the apartment she paid for; therefore, she should have received a full refund; however, the OP didn’t follow the rulesprocessprocedureetc. to report the issuesproblemsetc. Yes…the Airbnb host shouldn’t have switched the apartment and etc; but the OP did cause part of the problem when she didn’t reported the problem.

    There are too many stories on this site where the OPs make decisions (i.e. cancelling their triptouretc due to threats of terrorism; weather; etc) without calling the company, don’t follow the process, etc. which caused their problems.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: