NEW YORK (WABC) -- Airbnb says it has refunded $1 billion to hosts and travelers who booked and canceled trips due to COVID-19, but 7 On Your Side continues to get complains from travelers unable to get their refunds.
It was a Sigma Gamma Phi reunion for a group of 12 sorority sisters who were all recent graduates of Oneonta College,
Danielle Grieco found the house for rent in Rhode Island on Airbnb, collected the money from her 11 friends and made the deposit for Memorial Day Weekend.
They paid the $1,010, and then came the early warnings about coronavirus.
"It was March, we thought May would be OK, we will wait, we ended up waiting until May 1st then we said we had to pull this," Grieco said.
Then in May, the state of Rhode Island posted clear rules for visitors that banned gatherings of more than five people and the state issued a mandatory two-week quarantine for travelers.
"I messaged Airbnb May 1st and I sent them the stuff from the Rhode Island website that said no more than five people the quarantine," Grieco said.
"Clearly the state of Rhode Island said do not come here..and then Airbnb said that's not extenuating circumstances," Greico's mom Sandra Grieco said.
She got involved when the girls - most in grad school or working their first jobs - only got $104 back which added up to just $9 each.
Airbnb's "Extenuating Circumstances Policy" allows full refunds if one of the travel party died, suffered an injury or illness or if there is a government-mandated travel restriction.
The company still rejected their refund request and then also charged a cleaning fee.
"I was furious," Sandra Grieco said. "They got charged a cleaning fee for a house they never went to, a $300 cleaning fee."
When the mother-daughter duo couldn't reach anyone at Airbnb, they had an attorney send a certified letter - twice.
When they didn't get a response, they decided to reach out to 7 On Your Side for help.
Almost two months after canceling the rental, Grieco said she finally woke up one morning to several emails apologizing and offering her the full refund.
Airbnb apologized to Grieco, stating their response fell short of their high standards.
Some big takeaways: Read your rental agreement rules carefully - especially cancelation clauses. Then, if you need to cancel, gather documentation to prove your case.
This could possibly include doctor's letters or screengrabs from a state's website. And remember to be persistent.
MORE CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 COVERAGE
abc7NY Phase Tracker:
COVID-19 Help, Information. Stimulus and Business Updates
Share your coronavirus story with Eyewitness News
Stimulus check scams and other coronavirus hoaxes
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on coronavirus
Total count of NYC, Long Island COVID-19 cases based on patient address