Got a new credit card? Don’t let it spoil your holiday
Frances Kirk writes
On a recent family trip to Vancouver we discovered that our pre-booked Airbnb apartment was occupied when we let ourselves in using a key code given to us by the host.
On contacting both Airbnb and the host, it transpired that Airbnb had cancelled our booking due to non-payment. The reason given was that it hadn’t been able to collect the second instalment from my credit card. The first, for £342, had been paid in January but I had forgotten to update my payment details when a new card was issued. I did not receive a single message regarding this prior to our arrival on Aug 20. It was only later – in response to inquiries from the host and myself – that a “cancellation of booking” email landed in my inbox.
Airbnb claims it sent six emails regarding non-payment, the last on Aug 14. I had also checked my Airbnb account on Aug 5, prior to leaving the UK, and found no outstanding balance on my account, which led me to believe everything was fine.
The upshot was that we had to book a hotel for our six-night stay in the city which cost us an extra £1,400. After a protracted correspondence with Airbnb, it has refunded the first instalment and its commission and offered £188 as “compensation” but this still leaves us out of pocket.
Gill Charlton replies
Airbnb claims it sent Mrs Kirk six emails but is unable to provide proof (the two screenshots it sent are not timed or dated). While it was remiss of Mrs Kirk not to update her payment details, it was unfair of Airbnb to cancel her reservation without trying harder to contact her, especially as she is a regular customer and had paid a 50 per cent deposit.
Following my intervention, Airbnb continued to insist emails were sent and suggested Mrs Kirk changed her email address. However, it accepts that she “didn’t have the good experience that we expect our guests to have” and has agreed to cover the cost of the hotel. It is paying another £1,139 in compensation and has sent Mrs Kirk a voucher for £100 to set against a future booking.
Its response hasn’t addressed the issue of its apparent IT failures. As Mrs Kirk’s experience demonstrates, it is essential to keep payment card details up to date and not rely on the host (who could well be an agent managing multiple properties) or Airbnb to alert you to a problem with payment.
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