Edinburgh Airbnb hosts lost out on hundreds after glitch lowered prices for Festival rentals

Airbnb hosts in Edinburgh were left hundreds of pounds out of pocket after a glitch caused their charges drop to less than a third of their normal rates.

Thursday, 30th May 2019, 4:49 pm
AirBnB hosts lost out on hundreds of pounds due a glitch which saw prices drop dramatically for the festival period (Photo: Shutterstock)

A glitch in the online holiday lets service’s Smart Pricing system saw rates drop well below the levels which had been manually set by the property owners and hosts.

On the company’s community noticeboard for hosts, two users in Edinburgh and multiple users across the world complained they had been ripped off by the platform and would now be forced to accept guests at a much lower rate.

Airbnb blamed a global systems error for the lower prices but reportedly gave mixed responses to those affected by the glitch.

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‘I lost £165 per night’

One host, who lets a three bedroom flat out in the south of the city, complained they had lost £165 per night for an eight night booking.

In total, they claim to have missed out on £1,320 potential income after their holiday let was booked by guests looking for a place to stay in the capital.

The affected listing, which offers a three bedroom flat in Marchmont, is still available in June and July for between £95 and £110, but had its prices set at £265 during the festival.

The host, who had been forced to accept a booking of only £97 a night, stated on the forum, “The guest has so far refused to cancel, I wouldn’t in her place.

“I told Airbnb that she wasn’t staying with me, I am a new host who doesn’t need a bad review from an already disgruntled guest and they could find somewhere else for six people to stay in Edinburgh during the festival for £100 per night.”

The same host was then reportedly offered only £165 as compensation by Airbnb despite losing almost 10 times as much.

Another host in Edinburgh, also in the south of the city, said guests were charged £34 - £41 less than they had set for the period covering the Fringe.

However, they reported that they had received confirmation that they would receive compensation covering the full loss.

Glitch took three days to fix

According to an email posted in the forum, Airbnb stated the glitch to the Smart Pricing tool occurred between 23 May and 26 May, during an update to the system.

Smart Pricing is an algorithmic tool which automatically raises or lowers prices on Airbnb listings depending on demand, the season and other factors.

“During this period, guests may have booked one or more of your listings at a different price than you had set in your calendar,” said Airbnb in their statement.

“If this happened to one of your nights and the price was lower, we logged the issue in our records and will contact you separately to make sure that you are appropriately compensated for those nights.”

In a post on the forum, Airbnb said, “Our team has been working around the clock to resolve the issue and make sure that we contact and fairly compensate all affected hosts.”

In a statement the company said: "As soon as we were aware, we quickly resolved the issue. We have apologised to affected hosts and are working with them to make things right.”