Families claim vacations were cancelled to charge new renters more

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Three families claim the country’s top home-sharing company cancelled their Orlando reservations so property owners could charge new renters thousands more.

Deena Davidovics and her family planned a Central Florida vacation. Then they felt double crossed because the home was double booked.

“I always hoped this would never happen to us,” Davidovics said.

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Two months ago, she reserved a Kissimmee home on Airbnb and paid $6,100 for rent. Just 3 weeks before the trip their reservation was cancelled without explanation. Davidovics was suspicious.

“When they saw they could get double the money for the same house they went ahead and cancelled our reservation,” she said.

Later, a friend found that same home on that same week had been rented for $10,000.

Davidovics got all her money back but it was far too late to book similar homes.

“The host actually stopped replying to our messages, blocked our calls,” Davidovics said.

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Airbnb is rated F at the Better Business Bureau and told the agency it can’t respond to complaints because of massive layoffs.

Two other families contacted Action 9 with similar stories.

“I’m really disappointed in Airbnb for not protecting its customers,” Aaron Goukhman said.

He reserved a Kissimmee home in January and paid $4,600. His reservation was canceled and the host blamed a water leak. But Goukhman’s friends found renters at the house and he suspects they paid far higher rent.

“Three days before the trip they cancelled your house?” Todd Ulrich asked.

“Yes, they did,” Goukhman replied.

Davidovics says a real estate agent that works in Hunters Creek was responsible for booking their reservation that was later cancelled.

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Ulrich went to that office for answers and was later told by a manager that real estate agent Jason Ding was not authorized to rent vacation homes.

By phone, Ding told Ulrich that Airbnb allows cancellations to book for higher rents and he did nothing wrong.

Airbnb told Action 9 it’s reviewing the complaints, that the company has strict rules to avoid these situations and that violations by the host could lead to suspension or removal from the site.

“I requested they do at least something to make this right for our family,” Davidovics said.

Airbnb customers say they were offered 10% discounts, but still could not book the same size home at the same price, and never recovered the vacation that was cancelled.

Airbnb response:

We know how frustrating last-minute cancellations can be for guests, and we have strict rules in place that hosts must follow if they want to continue using our platform. If a host’s cancellation does not qualify under our policies, their calendar is automatically blocked for those days, we then notify them that repeated cancellations may lead to their account being suspended or removed. To help support guests whose hosts have cancelled their reservations, we refund them for the cost of the reservation, and our Community Support team is standing by 24/7 to help assist them in booking a new accommodation.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich, WFTV.com

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.