Host Cancellation Policy Not Worth Paper it is Written On

Just a warning for you hosts out there. Airbnb can refund 100% of the rate you have agreed upon with guests, and will not even inform you about it. The first you will know is when you receive a statement saying they have taken the money from your bank account, or deducted it from a future booking (which is what happened to us). It does not matter if you have a strict cancellation policy; Airbnb’s terms and conditions allow them to override this and “steal” (there really is no other word for it) your money and give it back to the guests, and not even inform you about it.

We had a booking in August – our peak period, and so we spent time, money and effort preparing our property for these guests, including purchasing food for their stay, paying for staff (our villas are serviced), and arranging cleaning, only for the guests not to turn up at all. As people fly to Bali, such a late cancellation left us no chance of finding other guests to take their place. When we contacted the guests, we found out that their grandmother had unfortunately died, and so they had decided not to travel.

While we had sympathy for the guests, we assumed that they had travel insurance (as we recommend for all guests) and so would claim on that, and so we offered to provide whatever paperwork they needed to do so. This is our business and our only source of income, and so we have a strict cancellation policy, as losing an entire week of income would be a big blow to us. We thought because of our cancellation policy that we were protected by Airbnb.

If guests contact us we normally work something out, and have in the past. For example, we have let guests stay later in the year for free. However, instead of claiming this on their insurance, the guests just went directly to Airbnb, and the next thing we knew, 100% of the amount paid had been taken from us. No warning or discussion from Airbnb. No discussion or message from the guests. We had had no argument or difficulties with the guests, just minimal conversation as we assumed they were busy with the funeral arrangements.

We are left here with all the costs of setting up the villa for the guests and yet zero income, and no ability to get other guests to stay or to recoup the income we had expected. We complained to Airbnb and they told us that when using Airbnb, we have to follow a policy called Extenuating Circumstances. In Airbnb’s view, their policy is evenhanded as it allows hosts to cancel at the last minute, as can guests for reasons outside of their control. However, if a host cancels due to some unforeseen emergency, then the money is repaid to the guests, and if the guests cancel due to some unforeseen emergency, then the money is also repaid to the guests. The host loses out in both cases.

Guests can also insure against unforeseen emergencies, but there is no such insurance to cover hosts for last minute cancellations leading to a significant drop in forecast income. With no discussion, notice, message or anything we were given zero opportunity to challenge or question this. Airbnb did not even check if the guests had travel insurance, and could have claimed that; they just quietly took the money without telling us. Not only is this policy grossly unfair to hosts, it is totally unethical to implement it without any discussion at all, and tells you that trusting Airbnb as a company is a very dangerous thing to do. A massive warning to Airbnb hosts: you are not who Airbnb cares about.

Airbnb Steals Your Money And Then Makes You Angry

We just found that Airbnb didn’t transfer our money a few days after the client paid until we contacted them about this issue. Later, they cancelled one payment from another guest who actually already checked in and was not entitled to get any refund; we had a strict cancellation policy. We charged a very low fee under Airbnb’s instructions because they told us that our listings would not be found if our fee was higher than Airbnb’s lowest rate. However, Airbnb will take any comment against a landlord seriously and punish him or her without any investigation or fairness. Even though I have had my place listed on Airbnb for just a few months, I have felt very stressed and offended because Airbnb staff kept bugging me all the time as if they were the police with complete authority; this is ridiculous because everybody knows Airbnb started as a small website and is now getting bigger by coddling landlords while pissing off small ones.

I will never use this stupid website anymore and we will not have to because there are many other better ways. I think the reason Airbnb would like to get rid of small landlords is now they have bigger bosses in and they would not make much money by keeping small landlords and small tenants. Please remember that Airbnb never works in your best interest but by sucking as much cash as they can out of your pocket.

I really need the money, but can’t stand this any more

When I retired I bought my dream house in a popular US vacation destination. It’s a relatively large house and I spent a fortune remodeling and putting it together. In 2008 I lost the remainder of my savings in the big crash, and now have to support myself and my house on half of what I intended to live on for the rest of my life. A friend recommended Airbnb, as I have a two-bedroom guest house on the property. It seemed like a great idea, as I enjoy having guests.

The first year was a rough learning curve, and like all hosts I have had a few horrible guests, but that was all in more than 60 guest parties. I’ve put every dime and every bit of my energy into optimizing my rental, and hiring someone to help me clean, which costs more than the cleaning fee. I bought luxury linens and lots of breakfast food and treats, for which I been rewarded with many sweet notes of thanks. I was feeling very proud of myself and was sure I would keep doing it. I was made a Superhost, and it may sound stupid, but it meant a lot to me – I had started my own business and was making a success of it. I always had more requests to book than I could possibly accept, no matter what the season.

My car died and I bought a new car, figuring that one guest party would make the monthly payment. I had a protocol and income I could count on. Or so I thought. Then, without any warning, everything changed. There were no requests to book for two months in the summer. I looked for my listing, but it wasn’t there. I called Airbnb customer service and they insisted it was there, but that hosts aren’t able to pull up their own listings.

I called friends who went to a lot of trouble to help me, and they looked through every Airbnb listing where I was listed and in surrounding areas, but still found no listing. Money got tight and I was getting scared as I didn’t have another way of supplementing my income. I couldn’t understand it; no one had ever complained about me to my knowledge. I had never made a claim or caused any trouble. I continued to call Airbnb customer service, who couldn’t explain it. They would speculate and make up ridiculous reasons why no one was asking to book. I asked if there had been any complaints, and was told that I wasn’t allowed to know that.

Forget being transferred to a supervisor: that never happens. One particularly horrid young woman, after I had said “thanks anyway” and was about to hang up must have thought I was off the line because I heard her say very clearly “what an idiot.” I never could get hold of a supervisor, so the customer service representatives seem to think they can say and do anything to anyone and get away with it. Now I understand: I wasn’t working for myself (although it’s damned hard work); I was working for a company that had no accountability to anyone, and was making so much money that one host seeking justice and consideration was someone who could be ignored and discarded like garbage. Even big corporations know better than to treat their workers like this.

Here’s the big joke: recently Airbnb sent me a package with the book about how this business started, and a letter telling me how much they value me as a Superhost. I don’t know how it is in other countries, but here in the US, good, honorable people have lost their lives fighting for workers’ rights to get treated decently. Not to be fired without notice or even given a reason why. Not to be arrested and jailed without knowing what we’ve done wrong. I’ve lost a third of my income, and now I’m signing up on other sites and will probably get guests through that. However, I’m so disappointed in and ashamed of Airbnb, who had a spectacular idea, got very wealthy, and then turned on the people who have worked so hard to made Airbnb what they are today. I hope the other companies now popping up all over the world to do the same thing learn what not to do by reading posts like these.

Won’t Host on Airbnb After Disgusting Guests

I was a host on Airbnb and after my latest experience with them I am only using VRBO now. We have been renting our ranch on Airbnb for years and I have never seen our home in such disarray. Our cleaning team sent me a list of all the issues (photo provided) including but not limited to:

– Stove top had burnt food all over it.

– Carpets were stained and had to be shampooed which is far and above the normal clean we would need to do after guests leave.

– There was dog food in the couch cushions.

– Toilets were plugged up and had all kinds of items that had been attempted to be flushed down including face wipes and tampons.

– Garbage was put in a coat closet.

– The bedrooms were a mess with food, drinks, games everywhere and the furniture had been all moved around (which we specifically ask our guests not to do)

– Worst of all, there were poop stains on my grandmother’s chair.

Our ranch hand came up to assist our guest during his stay with the toilet being clogged and reported to us that his 90+ year old father was sitting in said chair completely naked from the waist down. He had a “waste” bucket sitting next to him for him to utilize as a bathroom. My family’s ranch was purchased by my late grandfather in the 1960’s. This place is so incredibly precious to us and we love sharing it with others. We have always had respectful, wonderful people stay with us until now. I am so incredibly saddened, hurt, and frankly have a pit in my stomach by the way they treated our home.

Almost a month after I submitted photos, a cleaning bill, and a list of all the items that needed to be cleaned Airbnb finally responded with:

“After careful review of the information submitted, we’re unfortunately unable to process your request. Security deposits cover direct physical loss or physical damage to an accommodation. It does not cover indirect losses. Therefore, as we have not received documentation for any physical damages we would be unable to provide compensation.”

I will never use Airbnb again as a host or a traveler. A company’s true character is shown in how it handles the small events and they showed me theirs.

Total Frustration Uploading Photo IDs on Airbnb

Talk about total frustration. I tried the night before at least 15 times to upload a passport photo using Airbnb’s interface and taking a snapshot of the photo using my computer. The photo image uploaded came out nearly perfect. However I got a message stating the picture was not clear. I tried taking a picture of my passport photo using a cell phone and then uploading that picture to my desktop and from there uploading it to their system. It uploaded correctly each time however I kept getting a message stating that it was not clear. We tried repeatedly and then we got a completed transaction notice from PayPal.

We thought all was good until I woke up the next day and there was a message stating the photo was not clear. Really… what does a photo have to do with making a transaction or trying to get some rental property? The airlines don’t do that much checking; they would be broke if they did. I made a call to Airbnb, talked to a representative and then a supervisor. The last guy said my picture was verified and good. He gave me some coupons and I asked him if he expected me to do this all over again. I tried again and again and this time PayPay charged me twice. This time I got a receipt from the Airbnb system showing the charges. I was thinking I was good to go, but one hour later, I received another email saying the picture was not clear. Why in the world are they so hooked on pictures? If you want lots of pain then you should use Airbnb.

Drunk Guest Messed up Apartment, Lied to Airbnb

I use an electronic lock to let guests in as a largely absent host. The guest locked himself out by inadvertently entering a code that disables the lock until you open it from the inside. This had never happened before in years of using the lock. He called me at 9:27 PM on a Friday night and said the lock was not working. I happened to be there outside in my motorhome set to have taken off that day but got delayed and was prepared to leave in the morning (me being onsite is really unusual). I walked 50 yards to the door, came over, and the lock didn’t work.

I told him I could get him in the other entrance upstairs (that has access to the mechanical area and common laundry). I unlocked that door, walked up the stairs, crossed the apartment down the guest access stairs to the entry area, and opened the door. As I walked through the apartment to the other entrance, I noticed the place was as messy as I have ever seen a place in eight years of hosting; it looked like a tornado hit it with my pillows on the floor, and clothes everywhere. I was shocked.

Nonetheless I kept moving and went downstairs to the door. We tested it a couple of times and it worked flawlessly. I have no idea why it didn’t work (then). I went back to my motorhome and send a text at 9:45, literally 18 minutes after he called. My text said the place was very messy and caused me concern about excess cleaning (they were relatively long stays, 13 days with kids). I asked him to try to be neater so we didn’t have a problem. I said I was glad to be around to get them in. I smelled alcohol on the guy’s breath as we interacted but it wasn’t really a problem; he was fine.

In the morning he wrote Airbnb and claimed I had locked him out to tell him off about being messy and that I had entered his premises illegally without justification. He tried to cancel the reservation and get his money back. I am dealing with this nightmarish guy, who literally will say anything and probably can’t remember much.

Your Personal Safety Comes First With Airbnb

I have heard hundreds of horror stories from neighbors, guests and hosts alike. First of all, I cannot believe the number of people who give total strangers the keys to their home. Unless these hosts are changing the locks after each guest, they are asking for huge problems. A guest could easily have a copy of the key made and come back to the home at any time. Since guests book online, you have absolutely no idea who these people are who are staying in your home. It could be another Ted Bundy who may rape and kill your daughters. It could be another Jeffrey Dahmer who may rape and kill your sons. It could be a serial killer who could return in the middle of the night at some future date and kill your entire family. Or, in a less violent scenario, the guest may return sometime while you are away and rob your home. If you are going to allow strangers into your home:

1) Get a copy of the driver’s license of any guest who will be staying at your home.

2) Get an electronic front door lock and change the code after each guest departs.

3) Be sure you have dead bolt locks on all bedroom doors where your family members are sleeping.

In the US there are all sorts of online sites where you can check people’s backgrounds. Sign up for a membership to one of these sites and do a preliminary background check on each guest who will be staying in your home. There are actually a lot of very nice people in the world and you may be lucky enough to host some of these people in your home. However, there are also some very unethical, sick and violent people out there. Your first priority should be to protect yourself and your family.

Apartment in Brussels Illegally Rented on Airbnb

I am the owner of an apartment in Brussels. A couple of months ago I discovered that the person who rents my apartment has listed it on Airbnb. First of all, it is against the regulations in the apartment complex. I already had to pay a 500-euro fine. After calling the person who rents my apartment several times, she still refused to remove the listing on Airbnb. I’ve send several mails to the Airbnb website but with no response. I don’t not understand how they can accept this or not respond. Is there a quick and efficient way to contact them or must I take legal action, not only against the person who is renting my apartment but also Airbnb itself? They are making money out of it, and it is illegal because as a owner it is against regulations, and even the law in Brussels.

Superhost Gets Super Bad Treatment From Airbnb

On July 11th, 2017, I received an award from Airbnb for being a Superhost for four quarters, something I have consistently achieved over two years and seventy guests. I have since received appalling ‘service’ from Airbnb. There are two types of Airbnb hosts: the rich landlords who own multiple properties and offer nothing but a bed and a coffee machine and make a fortune. Then there are people like me for whom this is an important living in a depressed economy. I pay tax on Airbnb earnings. I go out of my way to offer five-star service, gourmet breakfasts, quality linens, and thoughtful, discreet care.

I have just had someone flounce out swearing abuse – while I was doing online teaching – after a week here. She booked for a month. In that time she clogged the plumbing so a plumber had to be called; I didn’t charge her. She broke the kettle, claimed it was my elderly cat who can barely get onto a sofa, never mind leap onto a kitchen shelf. The kettle was fused to its base and could not be turned on, heaven knows how the guest did that. She broke an antique bookend; I asked her to superglue it. This was something precious to me that I’ve had for two decades and from my gran. She claimed she needed an alarm and I must buy her one – this from a Luxembourg citizen who had lived in Boston for six years and recently flunked out of college. I looked at IKEA, couldn’t find one and suggested she try CVS or Target.

She managed to break the cupboard door – not sure how – and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. The damages exceeded $600 and when I tried and load claims onto Airbnb it refused to accept pictures. I’ve sent in two queries about this no response. The Airbnb person tasked with this case has treated me with disrespect and contempt. He promised to take this matter higher early last week. Nothing.

The guest said the room was not cool enough for her. In three years I have received no similar complaints; the house has air conditioning, is surrounded by trees, and there is a spare fan in the room. I bought another high-end fan – for $67 – and she managed to break that one too. I have no idea how. She was only paying $100 a night (in exclusive Wellesley) and got breakfast each day: a poached egg, two chorizo, avocado with supergreens, rye toast, wild honey, raspberry yoghurt (organic), herb tea, and orange juice.

She went through five toilet rolls, two boxes of tissues, and two boxes of candies in addition to finishing two new containers of body wash in a week. I did two loads of laundry for her on Saturday – washed, dried, folded, and put it in her room – and there was not a word of thanks. On Sunday she demanded I do another two loads: a bra and two panties for one load (whites), then for colors a towel (her own – I gave her three fresh towels on Saturday and fresh bed linen). I said such a small load was environmentally unfriendly. She freaked and was verbally abusive, shouting and bullying me.

I was in such a state afterwards I locked myself in my room and sat on the phone for forty minutes trying to get help from Airbnb. There was no answer, so I emailed them and went to their host forums. No help. Airbnb phoned me last week on the guest’s behalf and only when I mentioned my email did the representative say: “Oh yes, it is here. I haven’t read it.”

I told him everything I listed above. He called me back and said I must refund the guest, despite a strict cancelation policy saying I don’t give refunds and even though I was not in the wrong. He says the guest was complaining that she was too warm in her room (she’s also over 6 feet, overweight and on multiple medications – by her own account – for anxiety, so that might be a contributor. I’m 5’2″). I noted how I tried to help her, including two long sessions of unpaid counseling (I’m a trained trauma counselor). I recommended she go to an acupuncturist to assist with her nerves; she went twice.

I told Airbnb after incessant bullying from him I was prepared to give the guest half of her payment back. The representative from Airbnb started yelling at me; I twice had to ask him not to yell at me… this to a Superhost who has just received a rare award from them and who has 70 glowing reviews.

When I was teaching over the internet on the guest’s last evening – which she knew – she came in the room, music blaring, shouted at me, and began banging doors. Really bad conduct. I later audiotaped her ongoing abuse. I was so frightened of her that I stayed in the living room, curtains open, lights on, hand near the phone in case I had to call the cops.

I apologize for this story being so long but if you have the time, read it all the way through. Someone also tried to book with me then refused – the second person in a row because there are so many verifications now loaded onto my profile that a guest has to supply a passport (which most Americans don’t have), a drivers license, and two other forms of ID. This person declined to book – and frankly I would not give my passport details either.

I wrote querying this last week. That too has been ignored. Many hosts are like me: ordinary folk, trying to make ends meet. We are the bedrock of Airbnb. We do right by everyone, our mostly wonderful guests, and we pay tax. We buy superior foods and linen for our guests that we deny ourselves and yet there is still no support from Airbnb and sometimes frightening situations.