This happened to both my sister and myself and is not yet resolved. We live in a university town and the biggest moneymaking weekend of the year is graduation. The prices we posted on Airbnb were higher than usual, but because the site automatically reverts to your minimum price if you make any change to the reservation, like adding another night, I stand to lose $700 if the guest doesn’t agree to pay the difference. I’ve had many times where I set the price on a date on the calendar, only to find that it hasn’t “taken.” I also couldn’t respond to an interested guest once when reception was poor – I kept sending a message but the guest never got it, and that affected my responsiveness rating. I’ll be relying on other rental sites unless Airbnb gets a more responsive site. That’s a crushing loss for us, and due entirely to the automated settings they substitute without your approval or knowledge. And of course, you can’t reach them to give that feedback or get help.
Is Airbnb just a fake company? Based on my experience, it clearly seems to be the case. I live in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I had plans to be in Philadelphia for a week to celebrate my ten-year MBA reunion, and had booked my Airbnb more than two months in advance. So, I flew nine hours from Sao Paulo to JFK, rented a car and then arrived in Philly after traveling for more than 15 hours. Once I arrived at the address of the Airbnb, I realized that I could locate the two adjacent properties but not the address on the reservation. So, I called the host and found out that the number had been disconnected. That’s when I realized that I had been pranked, except that there was nothing funny about it.
I immediately contacted Airbnb, and they tried to contact the host, as if that would help. After an hour or so, they said that I was right and asked me to check other locations on Airbnb. This was a fun exercise, given that I had just been through a long, international trip with plenty of luggage to lug around. Finally, I decided enough was enough and downloaded and got a hotel through the app HotelTonight (secretly, I am sure HotelTonight must be delighted that the incompetence of Airbnb sends customers their way). Once I checked in, I talked to Airbnb again and they offered me a subsidy on the hotel for the night. The next day, I went through the same routine and tried to book another Airbnb, but nobody responded on the site.
There were plenty of fake listings. In one case, two professional realtors had put up the same apartment on the site with vastly different prices and exactly the same photographs. I tried to learn more, but was rebuffed as soon as I pointed out this discrepancy. To summarize, I had to pay for a hotel for the entire trip. So, the cost of me staying in Philly on Airbnb would have been USD900; instead, it ended up being USD2250, blowing through my budget. To top it all, an Amazon package I had mailed to the fake address was not recovered either. It has been more than a week after my trip and the “case manager” has stalled and not resolved the problem despite repeated followups on their website and Twitter. Their strategy seems to be sticking their heads in the sand and hoping the issue goes away. Airbnb may be a fake company, but my experience was real. Stories like these are not going away.
In the last week of April 2017, I was prevented from making a reservation through Airbnb because it claimed that the credit card I added was new and it was necessary to verify that I was indeed the card holder. There is nothing new about my credit card. I have using the same card for more more than three years and Airbnb is among those which have debited my card, many times, twice in April 2017 alone. I had to send Airbnb a bank statement to prove this. As pointed out by another furious ex-user of Airbnb, not everyone possesses the necessary tools to scan a bank statement and send it to Airbnb. Moreover, few people in the world carry bank statements on them. Such documents are at home. If you are lucky, it may be possible to download them from the Internet, scan them, and send them to Airbnb. If you are at home, this is usually no problem, just a waste of time and energy. If you are abroad, especially in a country without easy access to a computer and scanning equipment, then forget it.
After going through this process, I was finally able to make my reservation. In the second week of the following May, I was again prevented from making a reservation for exactly the same reason. Airbnb had to verify if I was indeed the holder of my “new” credit card. However, unlike my first bad experience, this second one was far worse. I was told no fewer than four times that the problem had been solved and that I could proceed with the reservation. Four more times I tried to make the reservation, four more times I was asked for proof of ownership of my credit card, and four more times I had to get hold of a bank statement and send it to Airbnb as proof. I am still unable to make the reservation.
Airbnb has acknowledged that there is a problem with its site and I must wait a few days before I can make my reservation. I have already wasted three days trying to make this reservation. Time is money and loss of time is loss of money. Airbnb used to be user friendly. Its success has turned it into a site that leads you to waste a huge amount of time. Try finding a telephone number on its site; I tried and failed. I had to do a Google search to get hold of a telephone number to Airbnb’s customer’s service. The time wasted to respond to its unnecessary and obnoxious verification certainly does not justify the fact that it is cheaper than hotel accommodations.
Will I use Airbnb again? If and only if it is my very last option. There are far better sites with far better services and means of communication. Promises that customer service will get back to you before the end of the day or that the problem has been solved or will be solved within 24 hours, are simply not respected and no attempt is made to explain why or to say when the problem can be solved. I still cannot make my reservation.
I attended a conference in Chicago in April. I decided to attend based upon the anticipated total travel expenses. To assure costs were low enough to justify attending the conference, I booked both flights and accommodations well in advance. The airline booking process was straightforward. I knew the services and transportation that I would have, as well as the protections in place and remedies should they fail to perform to their commitment and industry standards.
I decided to try Airbnb for the accommodation portion of this trip. I received confirmation for a one-bedroom “whole home” in Chicago for five nights through Airbnb. The host, Evie, sent a welcome note and suggested I send an email to arrange a meeting point to receive the keys prior to my arrival. Airbnb required and received $599 on February 7th, 2017 at the time of the booking, about seven weeks before my trip was scheduled.
The day before my departure I sent an email to Evie to set up the key exchange at Airbnb’s instruction. I was surprised to receive an automatic reply from Airbnb that her email address had “expired”. Note that Airbnb had made no apparent attempt to inform me the contact information was no longer valid. It is clear that they were aware of this change in Evie’s email status, and that I had a reservation with her. However, Airbnb made no attempt to inform me of that situation; in fact, the website was still recommending this means of contact. I had to leave early the following day on a non-refundable ticket.
In the interim I informed Airbnb of the problem. Have you ever tried getting in touch with Airbnb customer service? It’s not an easy task.
Once I arrived in Chicago I finally got an Airbnb response asking me to wait an hour while they tried to contact their host. The next communication was that I should look for other accommodations. They were going to refund me $499 ($100 less than I had paid). I learned this while on the train from the airport. As it was cold, raining and late in the evening and Airbnb was completely indifferent to my situation, I got a room on HotelTonight – which I highly recommend – for one night.
That evening Airbnb responded, stated they had failed, and offered a full refund plus $53 for booking an alternate location. I thought I’d give them another shot; I found another (more expensive) Airbnb and tried to book it. I was informed I would have to wait 24 hours before they could confirm. In the interim I saw the same accommodation listed again, but at an even higher rate. I then received notification that my accommodation had been declined because “we are sold out, unfortunately.” It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see what had happened with the booking.
Having no other viable options, I booked a room for the balance of my trip at another hotel. After arriving at the hotel I connected to the internet and ran an internet search for telephone numbers to reach Airbnb. I found a number, but not on Airbnb’s website. I was able to reach customer service. I explained the situation and they promised to have a supervisor call to discuss this situation. I received an email several days later. In subsequent phone calls I explained Airbnb’s failures to meet commitments and how these failures caused me financial and emotional harm. The accommodations in Chicago were $1003.78, or $404.78 more than the $599 I had already paid for the Evie accommodation. In addition, the stress of being adrift in Chicago certainly made my time there less than fully productive.
The facts are clear that Airbnb:
1. Was aware that the only email contact between myself and Evie was using the Airbnb system.
2. Was aware, or should have been aware, that Evie’s email had “expired” on the Airbnb system prior to March 31.
3. Was negligent by failing to inform me of the change in status of Evie’s email contact information.
4. Was aware that Evie had cancelled other accommodation commitments on or shortly before the commitment start date. Note that these occurred after I made the reservation and therefore I was not aware of these failures to meet commitments at any time prior to my arrival in Chicago.
5. Was negligent by failing to provide any indication that the Airbnb accommodation commitment was at risk due to Evie’s repeated failure to perform.
I booked this property on September 4, 2016 for a vacation I’m taking June 6-12, 2017. That’s nine months in advance because I knew the majority of properties would rapidly fill up and be extremely expensive seeing as it is the week of the CMA Music Festival in Nashville. I booked my property and paid in full that day for a great price and the house was spacious and beautiful. With that said, I stopped looking for places to stay because I had already found one. On Saturday April 29th, I received an email stating that the property had been sold. With that I expected to at least have a conversation with the host with alternatives or even an apology. What I got was a message saying “sold property.”
I’m utterly disgusted and livid about this situation. Why would a host be allowed to list a property that is for sale? Had I known the host was selling the property months ago or even weeks ago, I would have had many more options but I was kept in the dark. I’ve used Airbnb in the past and thought it was great but this experience has changed my perception. I’m absolutely out of luck at this point because now I have to find a different place to stay, all of which are nearly triple the price now if not entirely booked already. Airbnb says 75% of properties are booked for that time frame. Because of this, I’m looking into ways to cancel my flight and car rental but it’s not looking so promising.
I am absolutely outraged and disgusted by the host and the service of Airbnb. Clearly all the two care about is making a profit and not putting a single thought into the customer or their experience. I already paid close to $500 for the flight alone to enjoy this special vacation with my friends and now we’re looking at well over $400-$500 each more for just a place to stay because this service is unprofessional. I can’t believe our entire vacation was abruptly ruined without even a simple “I’m sorry for the inconvenience” or replacement accommodation.
I was one of Airbnb’s greatest fans. I loved the service. I was both a Superhost and a regular traveler. I could not believe it when a last minute cancellation caused Airbnb to leave me stranded with my young children in a foreign city without any assistance. First, the case manager was unable to make outgoing calls. So, all she did was periodically send emails apologizing for all the trouble. In the meantime, I was on my own with my children waiting for an alternate reservation. It was like living through a bad dream all day long. Finally, I had to find my own hotel and paid a lot more than I was planning for a last minute reservation.
Airbnb will not do anything for you if you get into trouble with finding accommodation. All they do, at best, is reimburse you. By that point it’s too late to do anything. What you need is accommodation. They truly do not care about you or anyone else. Considering the fees they charge for bookings, they are pocketing all of the money and doing very little for those fees. I would not have believed it until it happened to me. As a result, I took my listing off Airbnb. There is no way I was going to take a chance that someone would trash my place. Now I knew Airbnb would do nothing to compensate me if something went wrong. I will not be fooled twice. I was stranded and they did not even help me get a hotel room. If someone trashed my place, I knew I would be on my own as well. This company cannot possibly last because eventually, something horrible will happen to all Airbnb users.
My Airbnb hell started when I tried to book a room for two weeks in the Fort Lauderdale/Miami area on April 19. I requested a booking for a room that showed availability for my dates:
My kitty, Cookie, and I will be flying into Fort Lauderdale tomorrow at 3:30 PM, so we hope to get to your house about 4:30. I look forward to meeting you then! Kim.
P.S. Cookie is well housebroken and declawed.
I sent this last Wednesday at 5:14 PM only to receive the following response:
Sorry for the inconvenience but those days are not available. Thank you.
I then tried to book a different place in Miami that showed “pets allowed” only to receive the following email from the hostess, Andrea, the next day as I was landing at Fort Lauderdale Airport:
Do you have room for me and my cat, Cookie, for one week, April 20-27? We are flying into Fort Lauderdale from Denver tomorrow, arriving 3:25 PM. Cookie is extremely polite; she goes only in her box or outdoors, and she does not scratch. We hope to meet you tomorrow. I am a 64-year-old nonsmoker and nondrinker with a live and let live attitude moving to Portugal. Please advise.
Last Wednesday at 7:53 PM:
Thank you for your inquiry. The room is not available on April 20th, only starting April 21-27. What kind of arrangements do you have for your cat? Where will she/he sleep, eat, poop etc? I already have cats living here.
Last Thursday at 12:33 AM my request expired because Andrea didn’t respond within 24 hours. Airbnb recommended finding a new listing. Now the cheapest hotel was a Red Carpet Inn for $48 through Priceline so I stayed there even though my budget was for $21 per night . It got worse. The following morning I went to book a new listing only to be locked out of the Airbnb website; when I tried to book a new listing, it asked me to verify my bank account by entering two small deposit amounts. So I entered $0.50 and $0.75, thinking I was supposed to tell them two amounts to deposit and then verify they were deposited in my bank account. The message said “FAILED – TRY AGAIN,” so I entered two different amounts, and again “FAILED TO VERIFY BANK ACCOUNT.”
Now I was locked out of Airbnb because it then said to upload my bank statement. When I tried to do so, it would not accept the upload. I went on the site to find a phone number for help; there was none. Nor does the “Help Center” offer any solution or help for my problem. It doesn’t even describe it. I Googled “phone number for Airbnb” and a site called gethuman.com gave me a number which I called. After a long wait on hold, I finally got a person, but was disconnected while explaining the problem. I called back, again was put on hold, got a person, and then was disconnected again. Third try: same results.
I tried to email the Airbnb Help Desk:
I have been trying to book a room for the past 24 hours. When you requested deposit amounts on my bank account, I thought you meant I should give you two small amounts to deposit in my US bank account. I did, twice, and it said it failed. Then I went to get a bank statement to send you and saw you had already deposited two amounts into my bank account; I was supposed to see and enter them. I didn’t understand that from your website and now my bank statement won’t upload to Airbnb. I cannot book a room. Please let me book something. I have no place to stay tonight. I can’t call you… it’s maddening. Please use better English to communicate on your website. It is very unclear what you want users to do. See the attached photo of my US bank account showing the deposits.
Here is the response:
Unfortunately, your email has not reached Airbnb. To find an answer to your question, please visit our Help Center.
Thanks, Airbnb Customer Service
I must now stay at the Red Carpet Inn for $79 because it is not possible to book anything through Airbnb. The next day, yesterday, April 22nd, my Airbnb account was working again, so I booked the first room I could find within my budget in Fort Lauderdale, asking the host if he would accept my kitty. He said it was okay so I went to his house and was relieved to find he would also rent the room to me through my entire stay, until May 7th. Meanwhile another lady booked the room through Airbnb’s ” Instant Book” for April 24th for one week, after he had committed to renting the room to me for two weeks.
Now Airbnb says I must leave, though I have no place to go and there are no rooms for rent for my dates. I told Airbnb: I am a 64-year-old woman you are trying to put out on the street with her cat with no place to go; I had already rented the room from the host, and I am not leaving. According to their rules, when the host agrees to honor the commitment he had made to me, Airbnb tells him they will charge him a penalty of $100 and issue a bad review and not allow him to book on Airbnb as a SuperHost if he cancels the Instant Booking with the lady who is due to arrive tomorrow.
It’s unconscionable. Airbnb is a nightmare, treating its customers – both guests and hosts – horribly and the public should be made aware.
I received an extremely bad, fabricated review in retaliation from a guest who I reported to Airbnb because she had additional people staying in my apartment for whom she did not register or pay. Although our email correspondence on the Airbnb website clearly showed that the woman had additional guests, Airbnb awarded me a minimal and unacceptable settlement. Their reason? The guest did not make herself available to them for verification of my claim, and the term of infringement was not clear to them. I made numerous complaints to no avail. Airbnb’s inflexible transparency policy has allowed this false review to remain on my page. Since it appeared, I’ve had 73 views of my page but not a single rental. Previously, my apartment was always being rented. That means not a month has gone by without guests until now. Airbnb is more concerned about the guests than they are about the hosts who make it possible for them to earn money. I intend to change to Vacation Home Rentals and hope my experience will be better there.
An Airbnb guest booked my apartment for one person over a period of three weeks. I learned that she actually had two additional guests staying with her when I visited her at the apartment on her last week. I told her she would have to revise the request and pay for the additional guests. She refused to discuss the matter. Ascertaining from my neighbor that all three guests had lived there most of the time, I made a complaint to Airbnb. Of course, Airbnb advised me to request additional payment through their website, which I did. Those requests were refused by the guest. After I made numerous requests and complaints Airbnb awarded me additional payment for only two days because the guests wrote in her email that her friends “only stayed a couple of days.”
Although it was clear from our correspondence that the additional guests were there for at least three days, Airbnb did not honor my request for additional payment since the guest who made the booking would not communicate with them about the issue. This guest retaliated by leaving my apartment in a filthy condition (I sent pictures to Airbnb) with all windows and doors left open – an invitation to robbery. In addition, since her bogus and scathing review I have not received a single request. I have a 4.5-star, business-ready rating with 26 excellent reviews. Airbnb’s inflexible transparency policy has effectively prevented me from receiving other requests. They won’t remove this scathing review or put it at the bottom of my page where it is less likely to be read. Therefore, I would have to start from scratch with a new page which is completely unfair to me. I am going to close my account and use another vacation rental service if this matter is not handled favorably.
Two of my friends and I used Airbnb for the first time about a month ago. As soon as we walked in the condo, we sat down on the bed and it seemed like a piece flew out from under the bed. We weren’t really paying attention or sure about what happened. That night, the wood pieces that comprised the bed frame started collapsing and progressively the bed sank lower and lower. We fixed the wood pieces, but every time we moved too many in the bed it happened again. After more investigation we realized that a part of the frame that had originally been welded together was broken and any time we fixed the bed it would only be a temporary solution. For the last night of our three-night trip, we just put the mattress on the floor.
As soon as we packed up we emailed the host all the pictures of how the bed was severely broken before we arrived. Instead, she accused of us of breaking the bed and said it was “very strange” how we did not bring it up sooner. We are three graduate students in Miami for a weekend trip. Honestly we had never used Airbnb before and did not want to deal with communicating with the host (who had been unhelpful about all of our other issues) when we could come up with short term solutions for the remainder of the trip. After checking out, the host reported us to Airbnb for not cleaning (we paid a cleaning fee and she left zero cleaning supplies) and breaking the bed. We told Airbnb our side of the story, but because we did not report anything right away they ruled against us and are now charging us for the cost of the bed. I am shocked that Airbnb would handle their business this way and I can affirmatively say I will never stay in an Airbnb again. Thank goodness for Hilton and Marriott; they certainly don’t treat their customers this way.