Petty Airbnb Guests Run Up Utilities After Failed Refund Request

Stories like this really make me shake my head and feel for home owners on the vacation rental market. A Chinese couple staying at an Airbnb in Seoul, South Korea decided to take revenge after they were refused a refund due to a booking error.

In an act of revenge, the guests apparently left the taps running during their entire stay, using over 120 tonnes of water, racking up over $800 in gas, water and electricity charges.

Accidental booking

The couple blindly booked the entire villa for 25 days, only to realize it was located in the outer suburbs, too far from the city as they had hoped for. When they later realized their mistake, they asked the host for a refund, but were denied.

According to NetEase News (Chinese), they put in their request in mere days before their stay, so it’s not too surprising that host denied their refund request. Depending on who your host is, cancelling within a week could result in a number of scenarios such as forgoing the cost of the first night, 50% of the booking or the entire stay. Most do not refund service fees either.

It’s unclear what this host’s specific cancellation policy was, but I’m sure they were not entitled to a refund due to them trying to cancel within days of visiting their stay. The guests could have easily taken the matter up with Airbnb if the cancellation policy allowed for refunds.

Couple take petty revenge on host

With the possibility of a refund out the window, the guests asked the host if there were surveillance cameras installed inside the house, to which they were told “no”. The host had no idea what he would be in for until the gas company contacted him about the sudden increase in gas usage.

After some checks, the host realized that the couple left the gas and electricity on, and let the water run for the entirety of their stay. In total, they used about five times as much gas, and let 120 tonnes of water go to waste as revenge for not getting a refund on the booking.

As a result of the couple’s malicious behavior, the host was stuck with almost $1,600 in expenses. The water and electricity bill totaled $116, while the gas came up to $730. There was another $730 in other expenses even though the owner provided no further details.

After checking the archives from a CCTV cameras placed outside the front door, the host said the guests never actually stayed in the villa, and only visited the villa every three to four days, only spending five minutes each time. Maybe they wanted to make sure the house did not flood or burn down.

Airbnb exits the conversation

Unfortunately for this host, Airbnb distanced itself from the situation, saying that he should contact the guests directly to arrange for the expenses to be covered. As the guests were long gone and had changed their profile pictures on the rental marketplace, the host was stuck with the bill.

Even though an explanation was not provided, Airbnb most likely did not intervene as it is not a crime to abuse host utilities. Unless there are explicit rules about utility usage in the booking, the host would be held liable for the charges. Cybernauts were not please with the couple’s behavior, expressing their disgust for the amount of water wasted out of spite.

[Featured Photo: Roopal/Pixahive (CC0)]

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