I joined Airbnb because my sister had good experiences with them. I entered all my information and scanned in my passport. I made a reservation to stay at a flat in Paris. The reservation was accepted and the payment came out of my account. Two days later I received an email from firstname.lastname@example.org:
Thank you for uploading your ID for our ID Verification process. Upon review, and given information uncovered pursuant to online public records, we have determined that it is in the best interest of Airbnb, and for the users on our site, to deactivate your account permanently. We realize that this may come as a disappointment and that you may have questions regarding this determination. We hope you understand that this decision is exercised at our sole discretion and that we are not obligated to provide an explanation as to the action taken against your account, nor are we liable to a user in any way with respect to deactivating or canceling his or her account. Should you choose to dispute the decision, please submit any documents you think may be relevant to us, at no additional cost to Airbnb. We will forward those documents to our Legal Department for review before any decision regarding reinstatement of your account can be made. Additionally, please understand that this removal will also entail the immediate termination of your pending or accepted bookings. As such, we have communicated to your host that your reservation has been cancelled and refunded in full. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
I could no longer log into my account. I called Airbnb several times. Every time they claimed the issue would be escalated and I would get a response shortly. To this day, there has been no response from “higher up” and no refund (as the email suggests refunds of both pending and accepted bookings). I was not able to communicate with the host of the accepted booking through Airbnb. I could not log in to sent her a message.
Five days before my booking the host contacted me through @host.airbnb.com. From her message it seemed she had no idea my account was terminated. She was still expecting me in Paris, so I responded with a nice message stating what time of day I’ll arrive. I also questioned her if she heard anything from Airbnb the reservation being cancelled. I received no response. I continued calling and emailing Airbnb to sort things out and get in contact with the host. They only replied by sending me the same email as shown above two more times.
I arrived in Paris. There was still no confirmed response from the host through the @host.airbnb.com email she was using. I knocked on the gate to the flat. It seemed like nobody was there. I never received a reservation reminder prior to the check in date. My sister said that she gets a reminder email every time she books through Airbnb. My sister and I both assumed that the reservation had actually been cancelled and I would likely get my refund as their email stated. I ended up getting a hotel room for the five days instead.
It’s now well over a month since they charged my card. I’ve contacted them several more times by phone. It seems the only way to get the refund would be a lawsuit. They are completely denying that their system messed up. They try to tell me: “No, bookings actually accepted do not get refunded.” The emails they sent me on three different occasions is a lie. There is absolutely no reason why a company like this would terminate my account “given information uncovered pursuant to online public records.” I have no criminal record. There is nothing bad online about me. I travel the world all the time completely trouble free. They lost a good customer and they’ve lost many more because I’ve shared my experience with others. The existence of a website called Airbnb Hell is proof that Airbnb is a poorly run company with questionable business ethics.