Host Refuses Early Check In, No Refund

We reserved and paid 502 USD for three nights’ lodging and the cleaning fee in September 2016 for lodging from September 16th to December 19th, 2016. Prior to December we requested to store our luggage the morning of the 16th because we were arriving on the Holland American cruise ship that morning. We had reserved a slot for two people for the 12:05 PM Sydney Bridge Climb which lasted until 3:30 PM. The host said we could not check in prior to that afternoon, so we stored our two suitcases at the dock’s storage rental. We had also booked a performance at the Sydney Opera House for 7:00 PM on the evening of the 16th. So at 3:40 PM we retrieved our luggage and got a taxi to the lodging we booked in Surry Hills.

Arriving at approximately 4:15 PM, we found an iron gate covering the door of the Airbnb lodging. No one answered our knocking on the window beside the locked gate. It was also raining and there was no overhang above the front locked gate. Our cellphones weren’t working so I remained with the two suitcases while my husband walked two blocks and found a restaurant. The owner was kind and made some calls for us. She was not able to get an answer at the number the host had listed on their posting. We found out two or three days ago they had sent a message to our email they had to go out for a couple of hours between 4:30 and 6:30 PM. They were not available when we arrived and they didn’t intend to be home until 6:30 PM. Since we needed a room to shower and dress for our 7:00 PM performance we had to get a cab and find a hotel. Since the host had been paid for three nights, I determined they had cancelled our lodging paid three months prior because they did not uphold the mid-afternoon check in request. Now we find out Airbnb is handling our request for a refund of the cleaning fee and two nights’ lodging. Instead they presented us with an Airbnb voucher for $200 to be used at one of their locations prior to January 2018. I have no use for this Airbnb voucher since we will never use their company again. When paid in advance, hotels will have someone available to check us in upon arrival even if we arrive at 11:00 PM on the day of the reservation.

Be Aware of Strict Cancellation and Pet Policies

I booked the Amity Cottage in Albany Western Australia to attend a workshop, and was planning to invite friends to come along. It was agreed I would update the host later with details. Bringing my dog along was ok and the host appeared to be a dog lover. However, when I updated with details of my friends and their dogs, it turned out there was a limit to the number of dogs (not listed anywhere), and my friends were refused. Over the phone, the host explained more dogs were unacceptable and promised a majority of the money to be refunded after I cancelled. But the refund was declined. After Airbnb intervened, I got $300 back from the $1238 that I paid. The host rented the house out to others for at least two nights during that period.

Currency Conversion Doesn’t Explain Higher Fees

Airbnb is a corrupt, money grabbing, poorly operated business that should be avoided at all costs. Back in September 2015, we booked an apartment in Boracay, Philippines for 91 nights from November 2nd, 2016 at a price of around 8,534 Australian dollars (indulgent, I know, but not the point of this story). My credit card was immediately charged $2,874 to secure the booking and a schedule was made for two additional payments: $2,784 on November 28th and the final $2,786 on December 29th). All good. A few months later, I contacted the host to request the booking be shortened by two nights to better fit our flight schedule and the host agreed. I then proposed the change through the Airbnb app and he accepted it. I didn’t get an updated fee at the time but wasn’t too worried, trusting it would all be sorted out when the time came.

Around March 2016 I started getting emails saying that they were having trouble deducting $1,918 and that I needed to resolve the matter with my bank. I replied to the email saying that that amount was not due but the emails kept coming at regular intervals for the next several months – and I kept telling them that it was incorrect. I never received any reply or explanation. Around September 2016 the emails finally stopped so I assumed they’d figured out the glitch. We arrived at our accommodation on the newly scheduled date and the apartment and host were amazing.

After immersing ourselves in the holiday for a few weeks, something came up that meant we would have to head home 3.5 weeks earlier than planned. I spoke to our host, who was gracious and agreeable and told me to just submit the request through the Airbnb system; he would then accept the change to update the booking. Using the app, I submitted a change request and a screen came up saying that, with the new 65 nights (instead of 91) the price would be $9,279. This was a $745 increase for 25 fewer nights, so it would have been cheaper for us to just leave the apartment empty for the difference in time. As I looked closer, it said that the change meant that I would be refunded $5,500 from the original amount of $13,000-odd dollars which was definitely not the original amount.

I went to speak to the host and he had no idea why that had happened so we found a way to contact Airbnb tucked away in a convoluted area of the app and began contacting them that day (November 22nd). After a few days, they sent an email to say that the host had increased his prices since my initial booking so the new prices had been applied (I guess it went up to $13,000 when I changed it by two days but I was never alerted to any possible increase when submitting the change proposal or given a new remittance when it was accepted). Their only solution was that the host can overwrite the booking cost with the agreed total amount due. My host advised that he had not changed his prices so we asked Airbnb how they calculated the new fees. No answer.

In the meantime, I happened to check my online banking app and discovered that Airbnb had deducted $1,918 from my credit card on November 2nd. This was not a scheduled payment date or any authorised amount, but happened to be the exact amount that they had been emailing me about previously. Obviously they finally figured out how to steal that money from my credit card. Several more requests for help, including an explanation about the unauthorised credit card deduction, were sent. Still no response.

Eventually, the host and I sat down and worked out a mutually agreeable total. His login only allowed him to enter the amount in Philippine Pesos so we converted it according to the official exchange rate and he submitted the change proposal. While I still sat next to him, my phone came up with a change notification in the Airbnb app which I opened. It sent out the new amount on which we agreed($5,831) converted to Australian dollars within a few dollars of our calculations plus an Airbnb service fee of $407. So I pressed “accept”. It immediately changed to a screen saying that the changes have been made and the new amounts are: charges $105 AUD × 65 nights = $6815 AUD; service fee, $460 AUD; total $7275 AUD.

So the “proposal” that was accepted all of a sudden became $984 more for the accommodation and $53 more for the service fee? This is when we started calling the help desk to try to get them to change the figures to reflect the amount the host had entered into the Airbnb system. One of the staff tried to explain that it was because of the various currency conversions but that wouldn’t explain how it came through, converted through the app into Australian dollars, in the amount agreed with the host, in the proposed change. It only changed to some unfathomable amounts when I pressed accept.

Although we were being really polite and patient, this lady obviously couldn’t explain what their system had done so she just put us hold then hung up on us. We called the help desk back, went through the ID verification process again and had to tell the whole story to another staff member. This one, too, hung up on us. We called back again and talked to someone who seemed to be listening but then just “explained” that the new amount was $7,275. We started the explanation from the beginning and we think finally got him to understand that the new amount showing on their system was WRONG and needed to reflect the amount the host had entered and I had accepted. He said he would go get someone to fix it and call us back in 15-30 minutes.

So as not to miss the call, we sat with the host for two hours without a reply before calling them back and going through the ID verification process for about the 10th time that night and were told that a “case manager” had been assigned to us and he would call us in a few minutes. Another hour passed (we were now up to the fifth hour of this nightmare) and eventually we got an email from our Michael, our “case manager” saying that he would be happy to make the change once he got confirmation from both me and the host of the amount we wanted the system to reflect. He said he would be finishing his shift at 8:30; the email was sent at 8:24. The host and I both sent emails confirming the amounts in our respective currency and trusted that (because of the time difference) it would be fixed by the next day.

Instead, we received an email saying that this was all to do with exchange rates and “explaining” to us that exchange rates change in a daily basis – like we are complete idiots who don’t understand how exchange rates work. It gets better. He went on to say that they applied the exchange rate from the initial booking date (back in September 2015), which just happened to be much more beneficial to their fee calculation plus the 3% that they keep. So what their system does is: if you change your booking by even one day they apply any change in charges by the host and any increase in the service fee that has occurred in the interim according to the day of the alteration, but they don’t use the exchange rate of the day; in this case, they used an exchange rate from 15 months earlier. There is no other business on earth that would work this way. I am betting that, if the exchange had worked against them, they would have applied the new rate. If course, this ridiculous exchange rate excuse doesn’t explain how the Airbnb system correctly converted the Pesos into Australian dollars in the proposal that I accepted. It gets even better: hoping (naively) that they may have sorted it out overnight, my host checked my booking again the next day. The new amount I had to pay was now 420,069 euro, or about $600,000 Australian dollars.

I have now cancelled my credit card before I lose my house. The host has since changed his listing to TripAdvisor so he never has to deal with Airbnb again. Thankfully, throughout this whole thing, our host was amazing and supportive and as helpful as he could be given the deficiencies with the Airbnb system. There still has been no explanation, apology or solution from Airbnb. Please never use this service or this nightmare could happen to you.

Thrown Out Before Christmas: Australian Airbnb Nightmare

During our most recent Airbnb stay, the electricity kept cutting out, the wifi wasn’t working, and after spending 3500 euro we needed to pay to use the washing machine and dryer. I simply told my host my concerns and he told me to get out of house ASAP, just like that. This was booked months in advance and was to be our home for six weeks, through Christmas, and that was it; he just wanted us out. I contacted Airbnb thinking they would be helpful in booking me in a new apartment but no… they just told me that if our host wants us gone, we need to leave and that’s all there is to it. I asked for a manager and the customer service representative said she was in charge of the case and hung up. Later, she sent me an email in reply to my request for assistance on rebooking and a refund for the money we spent on washing clothes. I couldn’t believe they would leave three young girls with no friends or family – we were moving across the world – alone and homeless on the street; all I received were smug answers to my questions. I couldn’t believe I was being treated this way, first by a host and then by customer service. To speak to me like that while I was homeless and out of pocket as they charged me a higher nightly rate instead of the discounted monthly rate was unbelievable. There I was on the side of the road with two suitcases, little money, no home for Christmas, and being spoken to like I was nothing more than dirt.

To all Airbnb users visiting Melbourne, do not book with a host named Frank. His property name is “Spacious, Bright & Charming home.” If you run into trouble and need help he will have no problem just kicking you out. I can’t believe this is just allowed to happen. I’ve had great experiences with Airbnb but I’m still in disbelief.

Host Lies About What Happened During Our Stay

I made a booking to stay at Surry Hill (Sydney) where Debbie was my host. However, in her review to me, she totally lied about what happened and blamed us for all the unpleasantness:

1. She sent me three messages through Airbnb, with general information about her place and how to get there. This was great, but later on during the message exchange, her information conflicted with that of previous messages, so I had to ask again to verify her information. In her review to me, she said that I did not read her email at all.

2. My reaction when she told me there was no lift or Internet in the house was “Ahh??” If that’s considered rude, I wonder what’s the definition of “surprise”? At the time my husband and I made that booking, we both saw the “elevator in the building” option available, but not Internet. However, when we checked again after moving in, that option was gone.

3. When we arrived, we noticed the house was clean, but the detergent she used left a strong odour in the house. We immediately opened all windows to air the unit out, because this is quite normal. After that, when we came back from dinner, the smell was not completely gone; there was still a strong smell near the bathroom, and in the kitchen. We texted the host to ask, but didn’t receive a reply. So we searched the house and noticed that the smell was coming from the dirty toilet, behind the toilet bowl, and from her spices in the kitchen. I spent an hour cleaning up the toilet, while my husband cleaned up the kitchen at the same time.

4. Our second night, when we came back, we heard a very loud humming sound all around the house. We called the host immediately. After three calls, there was no answer. So we went out to check the source of this sound, and noticed it happened to fill the whole block. Ten minutes later, when we already decided to use ear plugs to sleep, she finally called us and offered to help, saying that she’d contact management to settle it. I’m not sure what she did, but around an hour later, the whole block was in a blackout, and the humming sound only stop around 1:00 AM (one hour after the blackout), when my mother in law already passed her bedtime.

5. The next day, Debbie texted me to mention that the previous guest gave her an extremely high five-star rating, and mentioned that we could move out to the hotel across the road; she would give us the refund for the night we haven’t stayed. Although it appeared to be a fair offer, I found it ridiculous she mentioned other guests gave her five stars, which was no use to solve our problem, and also it’s not really fair as we all know how expensive hotels would be for an immediate booking. Therefore we did not take that offer, to save us time and hassle from the move.

6. On our last day, we cleaned the house as our general practice using Airbnb, but I made the mistake of forgetting the rubbish in the hall. I texted the hosts immediately because I already left the keys in the unit; I couldn’t access it to remove the rubbish. Both replied nicely that it was not a problem, which turned out to be a lie. She mentioned in her review as if I purposely left the rubbish in the hall.

I still gave her a good review because I thought it was my mistake forgetting the rubbish in the hall, but I regret my kindness now. The way she replied privately to me and publicly in the review gave me impression she’s a liar. This was my second try with Airbnb. Although the first try was wonderful, this second try really dissuaded me from using Airbnb again, and if there’s another host like that, I’d prefer to go back to traditional hotels.

No Vacation in Sydney: Last Minute Cancellation

Do not book on Airbnb if you want to be certain you have an apartment waiting for you when you arrive. We are a family of five from Europe – Finland – and we are traveling to Sydney at the end of December. We started to plan our trip a year ahead and already made all of our bookings by January. We booked our flights, then eight nights through Airbnb at a two-bedroom apartment right on Bondi Beach, then seven nights in Cairns in a hotel, and then back to Finland. Everything was booked and paid for. Two and a half months before our trip would take place, our Airbnb host informed us that our reservation for the apartment had been canceled. We were shocked.

Guess how easy it is to find an apartment with two bedrooms for five people for eight nights just before and during New Years in Sydney? I can tell you it is not easy and the prices were totally different when compared with what they would have been if we had chosen a reliable apartment or hotel in the first place. I really cannot recommend Airbnb. We were offered a small discount if we booked other accommodations through Airbnb. However, what if that host would also have cancelled the new booking? We will never find out because the risk was to0 great; therefore, we booked accommodations through booking.com. I wonder how many people have been fooled since the feedback system at Airbnb is not good for the customers. Our host was given a small notification which will be removed in a couple of months and we lost our dream apartment probably because the host wanted to get a little more money from someone else…

I Lost $1500 After a Weird Airbnb Stay

I booked a few weeks at an Airbnb in Frenchs Forest, Sydney. From the start the host was plain weird: she wanted me to text if I was going to be home later than 9:00 pm, she complained if I had more than one light on in a room, she said I couldn’t use my laptop in the lounge, and she played a gong and bells in the middle of the night, waking me up. Once she did this at midnight. She even smoked right next to the bedrooms even though she advertised the place as non-smoking. To top it off, she had a three-hour raging argument with her adult children one night. I left the next morning but, as I paid in advance, only received a refund for two nights from the 25 I booked. Airbnb even had the gall to say they were kindly not charging me two extra nights. I am short $1500. There’s no way for me to post a review so that others know about it. The host is a bit weird: a few days after my stay my credit card was tapped and the only person to have the details that were used on the fraud was her. I believe she got my card details from my room.