Airbnb Hits Customers with Surprise Charges

A woman plans to go to Berkeley Springs, West Virginia for a family reunion on the July 4, 2022 weekend.

Months in advance, in October 2021, she makes a reservation for an Airbnb house for her family. Capacity – six people.

That’s more than enough for her family of four – herself, her husband, her son and her daughter.

She pays half up front and half two weeks before arrival.

She then added two guests – the son’s girlfriend and her sister – to reach her maximum number of six guests. There was no additional charge to add those guests.

But with that simple act, Airbnb adds $94.46 to her bill without her consent.

Airbnb customer service says this is because the locality in West Virginia increased the local hotel and motel tax on January 1, 2022. And any alteration to the reservation, including adding guests, results in adding the new taxes. Had the customer done nothing, nothing would have been added.

“Now since your original reservation booked last October 2021 the tax rate has not yet change and when you made alteration or adjustment last June 2022, then this will be applied the new tax rate from your local government,” an Airbnb customer service person named Genevieve wrote. “For the refund request, we cannot honor it since we also need to comply with the local policies.”

When customer service was asked whether she would have been billed the additional $94.46 had she not added the two no additional fee guests, the customer service person told her – no she would not have been billed the extra amount.

The customer asks for a supervisor and is connected to a woman named Wednesday. 

“We’ve given your case and its details careful consideration, and we determined that we are unable to refund the taxes,” Wednesday wrote.  “We understand that this might not be what you’d hoped for, but we came to this outcome because taxes are non-refundable in nature. Alterations have adverse effect on the Airbnb fees including taxes.”

Airbnb’s press office did not return multiple messages seeking an explanation as to why a simple act adding guests triggered the additional charge without her consent.

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