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Cancelling Airbnb bookings

We received the below question about AirBnB and had our travel expert @JodiBird respond.

Last year I booked an Airbnb in Melbourne for three nights for this August and paid the full total of $1648.45. Unfortunately my circumstances have changed and I need to cancel the booking. But when I try, it says I’ll receive a refund of $785 – leaving me out of pocket by $863.45.

I knew I wouldn’t get the full amount back, but I think this is excessive considering the booking is still a few months away, which would allow enough time for the unit to be booked again. What are my rights?

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Airbnb have several tiers of cancellation policies ranging from flexible to super strict, and it seems this is at the super strict end of the spectrum. Regardless of Airbnb’s policies, it seems that both the cancellation fee and the forfeited deposit are unreasonable, and potentially an example of unfair contract terms according to ACCC guidelines.

We recommend you point this out to Airbnb in disputing the charge. If that doesn’t resolve your dispute, complain to the ACCC, or your state-based consumer affairs body.

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