I am a foreign student studying in Canada and used Airbnb for my one-month holiday to the US, switching from one accommodation to another during the process. The hosts and the listings were fine in general, but AIRBNB DOES NOT HAVE A COMPREHENSIVE REFUND SYSTEM. During the trip, I had two bookings that were cancelled by the host, totaling a refund of about $600. The cancellations were made early and did not cause me much inconvenience. However, the issue is that I had just finished my studies and closed my Canadian account before leaving for the US; hence, the refund was made to a closed account. I thought that this would have been a small issue, since all Airbnb has to do is to retrieve the cash and transfer it to an alternative bank account.
How wrong I was.
1. AIRBNB HAS NO WAY OF RETRIEVING CASH THAT IS RETURNED TO THEM. The standard procedure for a cash refund in Airbnb is this: “Your money can only be refunded to the account you used for the booking. Your bank will issue you a cheque if your account is closed.” You cannot refund your money to an alternative account that you didn’t use to make your original payment. The bank does not always issue you a cheque. I have made numerous calls to the bank and found out that my bank’s policy on closed accounts is to return the money to the source, and Airbnb has no way of retrieving this amount.
2. AIRBNB PROVIDES NO WAY OF COMMUNICATING WITH THE PEOPLE WHO DEAL WITH MONETARY TRANSFERS/TRANSACTIONS. The people in Airbnb customer service center know very little about where your money goes. All they know and can do is to give you standard replies to standard questions. When questioned about what happens to the money that gets returned to Airbnb, the customer service center gave me the same response that I posted above (1). Want to talk to higher-ups? Want to discuss compensation? NOPE! All they have to do is to repeat this same standard answer again and again until you give up and put down the phone! So, that’s the tale of how I lost my refund and Airbnb lost a customer.