Airbnb COVID-19 Extenuating Circumstances Policy Only Gave Me Travel Credit

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May 23, 2020
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I booked a large house via Airbnb for a group of adults traveling together, 11 of us total, for dates 6/25-6/28/2020. The purpose of our trip was to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Cleve Carney museum in Chicago on 6/26/2020. I booked the Airbnb on 12/7/2019 for $1,863.25 on my Visa, and my travel partners paid me. The Frida Kahlo exhibit has been postponed until the summer of 2021, therefore our group is not traveling. I learned that the exhibit was postponed on April 17th, and I contacted Airbnb on the 18th. At that time, their COVID-19 extenuating circumstances policy was not including stays with our check in date. My options at that time were to cancel and receive a 50% refund minus fees per the host's cancellation policy or wait. I was told by Airbnb customer service to wait longer to cancel, as it was possible that their COVID cancellation policy would be altered to include my check-in date. So I waited for Airbnb's COVID-19 cancellation policy to change. I checked the COVID policy on May 19th, and saw that my check-in date was now included. So proceeded to cancel. I had 3 options through their site, the host's policy for 50% refund, or 2 COVID options, one for credit and one for a refund. I tried to do the refund, however it required proof of cancelled travel (like cancelled airline tickets) or proof I was not allowed to travel because of my job, etc. I do have proof that the exhibit is postponed, but we planned to drive to Chicago, so I couldn't offer the type of documentation they wanted. So I cancelled for travel credit and promptly contacted customer service explaining my issue. I need a refund, because I have to pay back the other ten people in my travel group. I obviously cannot pay them back with travel credit. I have sent messages to Airbnb customer service and politely asked it to be escalated to a manager. I was told: "Hello Rebecca. I am the Manger, and I am here to assist you. Once you select the option to receive the travel credit, there is no way to issue a refund back to your original payment method. I totally understand you have other parties involved, but the credit has already been issued and this decision is final since it cannot be reversed."
The rest of the communication is below:

Rebecca 5:06 PM
I'm sure there is a way to issue a refund. I was unable to select any other option at the time. The only way to get a "refund" was to choose the host's policy, which was only half of my money back. As you can see, there were eleven of us planned to stay in the home. That's ten other people that I need to pay back their portion. I'm sure there is a way to issue a refund. Thank you.

Airbnb Support 5:19 PM
Hi Rebecca. The full credit has been issued and it is available to use until December 30, 2021. There is no way to issue the refund to your original payment method. Stay safe. Take care.

Rebecca 5:21 PM
I cannot pay anyone back with a travel credit. I have ten people who need their money back. If it was just for me, I would be happy to accept the credit. However, this is essentially other people's money also. I'm sure there must be a way to resolve this. Please escalate this to your supervisor. Thank you.

Airbnb Support 5:33 PM
Hi Rebecca,
Thank you for taking the time to share your perspective.
After gathering and carefully reviewing all related documentation, we decided we are unable to issue a refund to your original payment method because at the time of cancelling your trip you chose to recieve the 100% travel credit.
We consider this decision final.
Best regards



So... Am I just out the $1,863.25? I am hoping you can help. What is my recourse? Do I dispute with my credit card or can I possible get a refund? I need to pay my travel partners back. I have two years to use this travel credit, but that doesn't help me pay anyone back. I couldn't opt for the refund because they wanted documentation of cancelled airline tickets, etc. which I didn't have. Any advice would be helpful, as Airbnb is no longer responding to inquiries.
Thanks!
 
Sep 23, 2019
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So if I read correctly you ended up with 3 options:
1: 50% Refund per Cancellation Policy (minus AirBnB Service Fee)
2: Future Travel Credit for the Full Amount good for 2 years
3: Full Refund requiring evidence of other Travel arrangements that were interrupted causing this issue.

You chose #2 but then contacted AirBnB asking to change that to a full refund instead.

Let's say the world is normal and there is no pandemic.
Let's say that for some reason the Exhibit you wanted to visit had to close because the building burned down.
So you are in the same situation. The reason you were going to Chicago was to tour that Exhibit.
If you tried to cancel because the Exhibit was no longer available to tour, you would not be entitled to a 100% refund.
Nothing was impeding your travel to Chicago (by car)
Nothing was stopping you from staying at the House you rented.

What option would you have chosen if that was the case?

The only actual option I see you even might have is to contest this with your Credit Card, but I don't think you would win this as you decided to cancel and already agreed to a Credit. You basically created a new contract between you and AirBnB.