Gibbs Law Group and Traverse Legal have filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of hosts who allege that when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Airbnb seized funds that belonged to hosts while claiming that the money would be refunded to guests.

Although Airbnb promised guests full refunds if they canceled due to COVID concerns between March 14 and April 14, 2020, Airbnb has now allegedly failed to provide those refunds to many guests—and to hosts, Airbnb has paid out a paltry 25% or less of what they were supposed to receive under their agreements with guests. This shortchanging of hosts flies in the face of Airbnb’s own insistence, in its Terms of Service, that all trip bookings are agreements solely between hosts and guests, and that Airbnb is merely an intermediary.

If you’re a host on Airbnb and haven’t been paid fairly for canceled trips, you may have a claim. Speak with one of our class action attorneys today.

Airbnb hosts: underpaid for canceled trips?

You may have a claim. Speak with one of our top class action attorneys, free and confidential.

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“Because of the COVID crisis, hosts aren’t getting paid, guests often aren’t getting refunds and Airbnb is just coming out way ahead. The lawsuit will be seeking an accounting of where the money is.”

— Aaron Blumenthal, attorney representing hosts harmed by Airbnb

 

COVID-19 crisis: Airbnb enriches itself, shortchanges guests and hosts

When the COVID-19 pandemic reached the United States, Airbnb announced that it would allow guests who had booked their vacation rentals between March 14, 2020 and April 14, 2020 to cancel their reservations for a full refund with no cancellation fees.

As our lawsuit alleges, this COVID refund policy, plus Airbnb’s announcement of a $250 million fund to help hosts facing cancellations, helped Airbnb look impressive to investors in anticipation of their upcoming IPO.

Unfortunately, Airbnb never refunded much of the promised money to consumers, and the multi-million dollar fund only covered up to 25% of what hosts were owed for cancellations. By issuing only partial refunds and travel vouchers that would soon expire, our complaint alleges that Airbnb used the pandemic to enrich itself at the expense of both hosts and guests.

When Airbnb host and plaintiff Anthony Farmer learned that Airbnb was refusing to pay him the money he was owed under his cancellation policy with his guests, he told their customer support he was “trying to count every penny and make ends meet,” and that this was “an absolutely devastating blow.”

 

Airbnb claims to be "intermediary" but now sits on hosts' money

Airbnb’s Terms of Services stresses that they are only an intermediary party, or a “collection agent,” so when a guests or hosts make or accept a booking, they are entering into a contract directly with each other, meaning Airbnb is not in a contractual relationship with either guests or hosts.

Hosts can choose among six cancellation policies to include with their listings, ranging from “Flexible” to “Super Strict 60 days.” Depending on which policy is chosen, a portion of the guest’s payment may be non-refundable upon cancellation. Under Airbnb’s Payment Terms, the non-refundable portion—minus taxes and a service fee—must be turned over to hosts by Airbnb Payments.

This class action lawsuit calls for Airbnb to pay hosts fairly and stop sitting on the money guests paid for trips they never took. Airbnb is duty-bound, according to the complaint, to carry out its contractual role as a “payment processor” by giving the money to its rightful owners.

Airbnb Refund Policy for COVID-19

Unfortunately, Airbnb has not issued full refunds to all guests as initially promised. Instead, as our lawsuit alleges, Airbnb has rejected some guests’ requests, issued partial credits, and forced others to accept travel credits. Other guests have had to provide excessive documentation, navigate confusing web interfaces, and contact customer service repeatedly to receive the full refund they were promised by Airbnb.

Our complaint alleges that for every partial refund or unredeemed voucher, Airbnb makes more on the transaction than it would if the pandemic hadn’t occurred and the guest had kept their reservation.

Airbnb failed to pay out fees for cancelled trips?

Our Airbnb Class Action Lawyers

Michael Schrag

Michael Schrag has nearly 20 years of experience representing individual and small business plaintiffs in a broad range of complex class actions against large corporations.

Geoffrey Munroe

Geoffrey Munroe represents plaintiffs in class action and mass tort cases in federal and state courts. Northern California Super Lawyers has named him a Rising Star (2010-2016).

Josh Bloomfield

Joshua Bloomfield prosecutes complex class action lawsuits with particular experience in data breach/privacy cases and antitrust matters.

Aaron Blumenthal

Aaron Blumenthal represents consumers, employees, and whistleblowers in class action and other complex litigation.

Enrico Schaefer

Enrico Schaefer, founding attorney of Traverse Legal, PLC, is a seasoned trial attorney practicing complex litigation, internet, social media, domain, copyright, and trademark law on a global basis. Enrico has special expertise on protecting business interests in a global internet economy.

Gibbs Law Group

Gibbs Law Group is a California-based law firm committed to protecting the rights of clients nationwide who have been harmed by corporate misconduct. We represent small businesses, individuals, whistleblowers, and employees across the U.S. against the world’s largest corporations. Our award-winning lawyers have achieved landmark recoveries and over a billion dollars for our clients in high-stakes complex lawsuits and individual cases involving consumer protection, data breach, digital privacy, and federal and California employment lawsuits. Our attorneys have received numerous honors for their work, including:

  • Daily Journal, “Top Boutique Law Firms in California” (2019)
  • Law360, “Titans of the Plaintiffs Bar- Eric Gibbs” (2019)
  • Law360, “Class Action Practice Group of the Year” (2020)
  • Daily Journal, Two “California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) Awards” (2019)
  • Daily Journal, “Top Plaintiff Lawyers in California- Eric Gibbs” (2019, 2016)
  • Best Lawyers in America (2012-2019)

Traverse Legal

Traverse Legal, PLC has been representing clients on internet and online issues since 1992, with nearly 30 years of experience in internet and technology representation. Our attorneys represent some of the largest internet companies in the world in commercial, litigation, intellectual property, and related matters. We pride ourselves on our expertise and focus on client service. Our track record in court includes:

  • class action representation of asbestos victims as counsel for 37,000 merchant mariners in the Ahearn v. Fibreboard Corp class action filed in the United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Tyler Division;
  • co-counsel in the Successful Match class action which went to verdict in Santa Clara Superior Court, CA, resulting in a $16 million on behalf of class members.

Traverse Legal’s attorneys have record verdicts and judgments in numerous cases in both federal and state courts, and have repeatedly proven they will take cases to verdict if necessary.