When Airbnb Cancels Your Reservation Without Checking

In late 2016 I made two reservations on Airbnb for a New Zealand holiday. In mid-January 2017 (i.e. one and a half months later) I discovered two unauthorised transactions dated January 14th and 15th using the same credit card for Airbnb in China and two non-Airbnb charges in the UK. I contacted my bank and told them which transactions were unauthorised; they cancelled the card. The bank notified Airbnb of the two unauthorised transactions and refused the two pending charges in the UK. Three weeks later Airbnb contacted me to tell me that their security team had identified suspicious transactions. They just cancelled the two earlier reservations in New Zealand without checking with me to see if they were legitimate. Then I had to try and contact them to get the problem fixed. Emails just bounced back as undeliverable. I couldn’t contact the hosts to try and let them know that we were still coming and what happened.

Finally, I located an Airbnb phone number and waited until someone answered. I explained the problem and was told how it would be fixed. I then received repeated email messages telling me the reservations had been cancelled, and there had been a problem with my card. I couldn’t reply by email, spent ages on the phone, and could not get transferred in their call centre to the person who knew about my case. They promised they would call back, which sometimes happens and often does not. I am recovering from cancer surgery and the New Zealand holiday was something to look forward to doing with my wife, but it is now a nightmare that I can totally do without.

To cut the story short, they still have not managed to fix the problem and are trying to charge my cancelled credit card, not using the new card in my profile. We had used Airbnb twice before without any issues and thought it was a good service. Now, I will never use them again and will tell all my friends to do the same. This is a classic situation in customer service. A customer who complains is giving the company an opportunity to fix the issue. If it is fixed promptly the customer will go away but still tell others about a good experience. If it is not fixed the customer goes away and becomes a negative walking and talking advertisement for the company, because not only did the company screw up, but they did not fix the problem or – in some cases – even try to fix the problem. Customer service like this damages the brand far more than any positive advertising can hope to repair. Airbnb really needs to up its game.

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