An Airbnb host raised rental price by 46% two weeks after the reservation had been accepted

Unlike many of my avid Airbnb friends, I don’t use it enough to be aware of the nuances. However, only on my second try with it, I have already encountered an experience that is worthy to share with friends and strangers alike. So here it goes.

For this year’s holiday escapes vacation, we had decided to visit the Pacific Northwest (Seattle and Vancouver) region. All we knew about visiting this region in December means fewer tourists, possible chilly weather, assuring lower lodging cost, and extremely tasty oysters.

On Oct 25th, 2015, I made a seven days reservation (Dec 18 to Dec 25) via Airbnb to a host of a downtown Vancouver apartment. After researching and monitoring the listing for couple of days, I chose a promising property due to its convenient location, reasonable price, and above 4 stars ratings based on 20+ reviews.  The host was very quick to accept the request (within an hour), and was friendly.

On Nov 9th, I received a reservation change request from this host with the proposition to increase the 7 days rental price by 46%. In the follow-up explanation message, she stated that:

“I’m sorry, my assistant made a mistake with a pricing for holidays dates. I’ve sent you alteration request with special price with the best possible rate for this season. I do apologize for this mistake. Please, confirm the alteration or feel free to cancel it and I’ll make a full refund.” 

So, more than two weeks after this Airbnb reservation was reviewed and accepted by this host, and after I have agreed to her strict rental cancellation policy (50% refund up until 1 week prior to arrival, except fees), I was told I have two choices: to either accept this price alteration or to cancel the reservation. On principle or per budget limitation, I could not possibly accept this type of post agreement price-hike no matter how much I want a peace of mind and be done with my vacation planning.

It was obvious, per this host instruction, my only option would be to cancel the reservation. But wait a minute, what about that cancellation policy? If I cancelled it, how could I be sure she will honor me the full refund while the cancellation policy stated otherwise? Especially, considering the situation, could I really trust her? I wasn’t sure.

Adding to the confusion, on that Airbnb’s reservation altering request review page, I see no information explaining the process about this alteration or telling me what rights I entitle to. On that page, it only provided two options (“Accept”or “Decline”), and listed the difference between the original reservation vs the one with the price-hike.

By this point, I have too many questions with no answers. For example: WHY Airbnb allows the host to raise price after it is already agreed upon? What rights do I have to protect the resources that I have poured into this particular reservation (my times and cancellation penalty, etc)? What does the “Decline” option mean (does it mean I cancel the reservation by declining) ? Can the original reservation be honored in anyway? Obviously, I should ask help from Airbnb, and I did.

Ultimately, I declined the price-hike alteration; the host cancelled on me; I then received the full refund + 10% airbnb credit; I booked another downtown apartment using that refund + 10% credit.

From this experience, here were what I learned from using Airbnb:

  1. When a host proposes change after accepting your reservation request, you have the option to either accept the alteration or decline it. If you choose to decline, then it would be the host but NOT YOU to make the cancellation only if the host decided not to honor the original agreement.
  2. It turned out that the Airbnb’s reservation agreement does NOT GUARANTEE a host will honor it nor ensure you will have a place to stay whatsoever.
  3. If you (the guest) proposed change to the reservation and then denied by the host, or you cancelled the reservation out right, you will be held accountable by the reservation cancellation policy you have accepted. In my case, if I cancelled this reservation I could be charged 50% to 100% of the rental cost depending on when the cancellation takes place.
  4. According to Airbnb, there is penalty towards the host-end cancellation. However, it is unclear how the host would be held accountable (Airbnb avoided clarifying what kind of cancellation penalty my host would get if cancelled on me). By guessing, there is some sort of policy in place, because that helps to explain why this host tried to lead me into doing the cancellation instead of doing it herself – to avoid the penalty. However, this enforcement measure obviously is not strong enough to persuade this host honoring the original agreement.
  5. If you encountered a host who will not honor the reservation due to no fault of you, you need to know that there is not much administrative help offered by Airbnb to enforce the agreement, or to ensure you will have a place to stay at least. I was advised by Airbnb to talk to other hosts about other places just in case this host eventually cancels on me.
  6. You will receive full refund if the host cancelled on you. 10% Airbnb credit will be also made available if you decide to book rental again through Airbnb.
  7. Lastly, Airbnb somehow decided it is okay to take away your right of reviewing a host who cancelled your reservation. Instead, the system will auto post on your behalf. This is what the Airbnb posted on my behalf:

“The host canceled this reservation 38 days before arrival. This is an automated posting.”

Final thoughts:

  1. I understand that there are reasonable cases for host or guest to cancel a reservation, and the cancellation penalty are not always needed.  I also understand that Airbnb system is trying to provide flexibility to handle all kind of reservation and alteration scenarios. One can certainly make listing mistake, but isn’t the host already given the step to review the reservation request before accepting/denying it? In my opinion, allowing price-hike after two weeks into the agreement is not one of those reasonable use case scenarios.
  2. I feel this booking experience gave me the impression that, by design or by accident, Airbnb is not treating the host and guest equally. The cancellation by guest term is very obvious to both parties at the time of booking, but cancellation by host term is much less transparent.




Posted by in Home, Using


The Beauty of Japan – Seeing is Believing

Visited Kyoto and Tokyo for 2 weeks during the last Thanksgiving. The Fall of Kyoto is breathtakingly beautiful.
Japan 2014

As a food lover, I was in food heaven for two weeks. The overall food quality in Japen is phenomenal. I also love Japanese’s department store’s food courts. You could even order a mouth-watering and award-winning Kaiseki meal set from those department stores in Kyoto.

Fun fact: Did not realize until I was in Japan that it is now the country has most three-starred Michelin restaurants, impressive!

Bitter Sweet Trip to the East: Part One

After more than 12 years on hiatus, I finally built up the courage to book the ticket back to the land of the Sleeping Giant. Actually, being brave was not it, I have to go back to China for two sad reasons:

  1. Go to Hong Kong to attend the funeral of my youngest aunt, who was a great human being, but unfortunately had just lost her battle against Lung cancer.
  2. Got back to Tianjin, my hometown, to see my dear grandmother. She, at the age of 96, is the last remaining grandparents of mine.  Her health has been deteriorating quickly within that last year.

One may ask me why I have not been back sooner. Oh, there are many reasons – some are good reasons, but others are not. To not turning my blog of fun and enjoyment into a psychoanalysis one, I will only say one thing – my brilliant cowardness had play a big part in convincing myself that it is always easier to move forward if don’t ever look back.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

My aunt’s funeral turned out to be one of the most elegant that I have ever attended. It was fulfilled with fresh white roses, fresh flowers sympathy bouquets, a hall full of people who came to pay respect to her, and most importantly, the loves from her two sons and from all of us.

Because of this funeral, I also have the opportunity to reunite with many of my cousins from my father’s side, whom I haven’t seen for many years.  It was quite interesting to discover that all my cousins turned into foodies, just like me – What’s a surprise!  Every time we went out to eat, we would take turns at the banquet table to take food pictures (quite a funny scene to say the least).

Yummy Dim Sum

As one may already know, everything Chinese do revolving around food. Therefore during this stay in Hong Kong, me and my cousins found enough reasons to explore the famous Hong Kong culinary scenery for both commemoration and celebration. I am happy to report back that Hong Kong deserves her reputation as one of the Culinary Heaven on earth.

I was lucky enough (thanks to my Hong Kong Cousins) to have the opportunity of visiting one of the awesomeness-packed area called Tuen Mun Shing State (屯門三聖村). This area is famous for its Dai Pai Dong (大牌檔) style Cantonese seafood, and are mostly frequented only by the locals. The Tuen Mun Shing State Dai Pai Dong is not a place for up-scale fine-dining experience but a rather unique one, especially if you are into eating fresh and diverse selection of seafood at a more affordable price point.

Hong Kong

To complete this experience, first, you need to hand-pick the main ingredient by shopping among 15+ seafood market stalls that full of fresh and lively fishes, shrimps, lobsters, crabs, and many other type of not known to me crustacean.

Picking Seafood from the market
Live crab
Beautiful Scarlet Shrimp
Second, you will go across the street to have one of the food stalls (many of them are quite large) to have them preparing those goodies you have just picked up. It won’t hurt to add an order of those heavenly Cantonese-style roasted goose or duck (huh, actually, you may need to call ahead to get those ordered and prepared).

Roasted Goose

Finally, the best part of course, you will sit down with your family around the table at the Dai Pai Dong to share and enjoy each of the those freshly prepared dishes as they come. If you like, you can also continue to commemorate or celebrate whatever the reason you come here for.

Eating with family


More Pictures on Flickr!!!


The Spanish-Dream is forming!

Although reluctant, my 2 weeks long visit to the 3 great cities in northern Spain – Madrid, San Sebastian and Barcelona – has finally drawn its conclusion. The verdict is? It was awesome!

The only negative outcome came out of this trip, oh, other than the burning a big hole in my wallet one,  is that this new experience has started to put my American-Dream in question, and to make me wonder why shouldn’t I start a Spanish-Dream? Second thought, I knew why: no habla espanol; and Spain’s near 25% unemployment rate.

Seriously though, there is absolutely no excuse  to eat bad in Spain even if one were on a tight budget. I have never had so many awesomely delicious food and great quality wine with the price tag ranges only between £1.5 to £5 per order. On top of that, if you were in Madrid, you don’t even have to order food to feed yourself in many of those tapas bars, at least those we visited on Calle Cava Baja and Calle Jesus. Usually, each drink you ordered comes with a complimentary small appetizer (various from Potato chips, fries, bread, cured sausages, small open-face sandwich,  to cheese).  The caveat  is that if you order a tapas along with your drink, then the free appetizer may longer come to you. Therefore, if you are a hungry man, always ordering your drink first (Thanks to the tip provided by Rick Steve’s guidebook). Maybe because the culture differences among Spanish, Catalan and Basques,  it was much harder to find a bar that is practicing this old Andalusian tradition in Barcelona and San Sebastian.

The most tapas fun we had on this trip was in San Sebastian. However, we did face quite a  bitter-sweet challenge while pinxtos bars hoping there. Because those mouth-watering Basques pinxtos plates were all laid on the counter right in front of the customers, it was very difficult to not over-ordering food.  Believe me, 3 of those small pinxtos could fill you up fast. Fortunately, we got some helps. According to those travel experts’ suggestion on tapas bar crawling the local way (making the best out of each bar ‘s offering), one must practice discipline of self-control – sticking to 1 order with 1 drink per bar, and then moving on to the next one.  It was a lot of fun!

This trip was my very first visit to Europe. Some may wonder why Spain, what about France and Italia? As a Foodie and a Wino with proven track records to demonstrate my eating and wine-sipping addictions,  I have to say Spain was the no-brainier choice because it is the best foodie destination, and a culinary powerhouse of Europe.  According to, not  me, but the Restaurant magazine, 3 out of the top ten restaurants of the 2013 in the world are from Spain (sorry France and Italy)1. And guess what? San Sebastian, a city’s population is less than 2 size bigger than the City of Denton, owns 2  of those top restaurants: Mugaritz (No.4) and Arzak (No.8).  Yeah, Yeah, those are all subjective opinions, and I admit I am one of those nuts that always believe in Anthony Bourndin’s unreserved opinion. Nevertheless, San Sebastian is an awesome place for foodies like me, period.

Top three memories of this trip:

3. The experience of eating the fresh, massive and heavenly Carabinero Prawns)

2. The mind-provoking visit to the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid for its Salvador Dali’s special exhibition, Dali: All of the poetic suggestions and all of the plastic possibilities.

1. Tapas bar hoping in Spain