Airbnb Hosts Are Cancelling Swifties’ Bookings & Re-Listing Them For Double The Price


Airbnb landlords have somehow extended the housing crisis universe to now include the Australian leg of Taylor Swift‘s Eras Tour. Fans have reported their accomodation is being cancelled by hosts a month, or sometimes even a week, before the Sydney and Melbourne concerts, only to be re-listed at wildly inflated prices. This is my multiverse of madness.

Jasmine, a 24-year-old Swiftie, told The Sydney Morning Herald that she booked an Airbnb to stay in for the Melbourne concert. The stay was for four nights, and cost $630. A week before the concert, the host of the property informed her the carpets needed redoing and therefore she could no longer stay.

Oddly, Jasmine said the host made her cancel the stay herself — meaning she couldn’t leave a review. Days later, she saw the same Airbnb relisted, with the same four nights now costing $1,347 to book — more than double the original price.

“I looked again that night and it was gone, but I assume someone had just booked it at the new price based off how quickly everything was booking,” she said.

“I usually find Airbnb reliable, so I was really annoyed by this. So inconvenient and it made an already stressful time even worse.”

Taylor Swift has landed in Australia and with her arrival comes a drove of Swifties — much to the pleasure of price-hiking Airbnb landlords. Image: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Another Swiftie, based in Brisbane, told SMH that she’d booked an Airbnb in Sydney for one of the Eras Tour concerts — and paid in full — only for it to be cancelled over “family reasons”. She said it was then relisted for hundreds of dollars more.

The Swiftie said this happened to her several times, with the latest host cancelling the week before the Sydney concert and leaving her scrambling yet again. Eventually, she ended up having to turn to a different service.

“It’s incredibly stressful and frustrating because lots of money goes into [it],” she told SMH.

“I understand why they’re doing it – they want money. But I don’t think it makes it the right thing. We’re happy to pay money, but we don’t want to be screwed around last minute.”

Given Sydney and Melbourne hotels are pretty booked out, last-minute Airbnb cancellations are stressful for Swifties.

Airbnb does have a host cancellation policy, and claims hosts will be punished for unnecessary cancellations by having the dates for those stays blocked.

“If a Host cancels a confirmed reservation, or if the Host is found to be responsible for a cancellation, their calendar is blocked preventing the Host from accepting another reservation for the Listing on the affected dates,” an Airbnb spokesperson told PEDESTRIAN.TV.

According to the policy, stays that are cancelled without a “valid reason” result in the host being charged a cancellation fee. For bookings that are cancelled more than a month before the booking, the fee is 10% of the reservation amount. For less than a month, the fee is 25% of the booking, and for less than 48 hours, the fee is 50% of the booking.

Some Swifties have resulted to using other services because of unreliable Airbnb hosts. Image: iStock.

Here’s the thing — if a host cancels a stay one month before one of the Taylor Swift concerts and cops the 25% fee, but then relists the property for more than 50% of the original price, they’re essentially waiving their own fee and still making a profit. With such wild price-gouging, the fee becomes useless.

There’s also the fact that some hosts who Swifties have accused of price-gouging are claiming emergency repairs or family emergencies as the reason for cancellation — which do not result in a fee.

In the case of Jasmine, the host asked her to cancel the stay — meaning they bypassed the host cancellation policy altogether.

“We encourage guests who have experienced Host cancellations where the property is re-listed on the same dates to contact our 24/hr customer support team so that we can investigate and take the appropriate action,” an Airbnb spokesperson said.

“Every Airbnb booking comes with AirCover. If a Host cancels within 30 days of check-in, Airbnb will help you find a similar place, depending on availability at comparable pricing. If a similar place isn’t available or you’d prefer not to re-book, we’ll give you a refund.”

Sadly, Airbnb won’t actually stop price-gouging on the platform though — it’s completely up to hosts to decide how they want to price their properties.

In the meantime, Swifties, take note of this: a spokesperson for the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) told SMH regarding misleading bookings: “Where the failure to meet these consumer guarantees is a major failure, consumers are entitled to their choice of a refund or replacement service.”

Oh, and if it turns out you’ve been screwed over and had your consumer rights violated, you might be able to claim compensation for any losses you’ve incurred because of the cancellation.

Check your rights, girlies (gender-neutral). We are not entering our scam era today!

Image: iStock, Getty Images / Buda Mendes