Airbnb: What I’m Most Ashamed Of

http://www.politico.eu (Brussels, November 2015)

There’s a lot that I did/accomplished during my 3 month trip that I am proud of. However, there is one situation that I’m not proud of. This was exploiting a situation in Brussels in order to receive credit/refund for an apartment I no longer needed to rent.

I recall cooking dinner with a hostel mate in Porto (Portugal), when I first heard of the attacks in Paris. It was a weird time. There were some people staying at my hostel that were from the city, some had just visited, and some planned to visit shortly after.  After the initial shock of everything, most agreed that they would still visit Paris as planned. The attitude was the same for everyone. The feeling was that regardless of what had happened, one should still go and visit places going through similar situations. And these people did. They went to Paris and still had the time of their lives (with added security), as locals and travellers began to flood back to the city they love.

My situation was different. Around the same time the attacks happened in Paris, I booked a 3-4 day stopover in Brussels to get a brief taste of Belgium (specifically beer and waffles). Within the next week or so, a lock down was imposed in Brussels. My attitude was the same. I’m going to go to Brussels. I really don’t care if anything happens or not…

Well, my attitude changed. 6 days before I was supposed to arrive in Brussels, a friend had arrived there to stay for 3 nights. She complained that the city was dead. While people were still living (and safe) there was almost nothing to do. The atmosphere was dead. It was at that point I decided “Hey. I don’t want to spend a few hundred dollars to spend 4 nights in an apartment in a city that doesn’t offer too much at the moment. I’m going to cancel and head to Germany early”. That thought made me quite happy.

So I went to cancel my Airbnb, which showed no refund. $(200) down the drain. I didn’t look ahead to see the hosts cancellation policy. In that alone, I truly did not deserve the refund. As someone who did reservations during my summers between school, I didn’t care to hear the excuses of people cancelling late. I became one of those people…

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Step 1: Email the host to see if he will refund

I’m sorry but I cannot refund your stay. Lockdowns are not part of the refund policy, and life goes on for us in Brussels. 

Step 2: Write Airbnb with my reference number and ask for a refund. 

No answer. I went a day and realized I could be waiting even longer to eventually get the same answer I got from my host. That angered me. I knew Brussels was safe enough to travel to, but still didn’t want to go. So I did something I’m not proud of today (I may have been satisfied at first).

I called Airbnb out on Twitter, sending a tweet about how I wouldn’t be refunded and included an article from a major news agency about the terrorizing lock down in Brussels. Within a minute Airbnb messaged me and asked for my reference number. They couldn’t refund because this situation is out of their control and not in their policy, so they gave me a $200 dollar credit for a future booking.

When I look back I feel embarrassed for exploiting a situation in which I actually would have felt safe in. I was just a kid who wanted to get his money back because I didn’t think I would have enough fun. That’s it.

Was I in the wrong? It’s not like I hurt Airbnb financially. They probably give credit vouchers out often. But should I have just sat and taken the loss?

If you were in the same situation what would you have done?

Next: Filling in the blanks. I realize I left a lot out of my time in Ireland, as well as a lot from Portugal and Germany. I plan on filling in the “diary entries” that I didn’t put on here. I’m looking to do some cool posts in the future but will have to wait in order to upgrade my account. Thanks for reading!


8 thoughts on “Airbnb: What I’m Most Ashamed Of

  1. Good job on your blog again, when it comes to money, we always try to recover, and most times are not happy with ourselves after. It ta keys a great person to admit their mistakes. Again, Grandson am proud of you.

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  2. I’m with your Mom and Grandma. We all would have done the same thing but are so proud of you for posting this. It shows once again my dear nephew that YOU ARE WONDERFUL!!

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  3. In the end, money is just money. It comes and it goes. I might have still gone to Brussels, I might have not. I was not in your situation. But you went with your gut and that is good. AirBnb can afford to give you a voucher. They make millions of dollars, it is better to keep your business and offer you credit, while still respecting the host and not forcing them to refund.

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    1. Ya. I know a voucher didn’t exactly hurt them. Just sort of sad after talking to people about travelling through similar situations. Thanks for reading!

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      1. sometimes we get lucky, and sometimes not. sometimes when i feel that i can’t pay back a favor, i pay it forward by doing something nice to a stranger, someone who can’t pay me back. maybe spend the money you saved doing something nice for your friends. spread the love!

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