I’ve taken three trips in six months with Airbnb. Each was wonderful on its own and each experience with a host has been great. However, on my last experience, due to an issue with our passports at the airport, we had to cancel our trip less than 24 hours before the check-in time. As a result, per the terms of agreement, Airbnb charged us the service fee and the first night of stay. However, once I received my credit card bill I noticed I was charged more than that. It seems that an issue with the time zone calculation cost me an additional nightly charge and a cleaning fee to a place which I never checked in. After calling Airbnb (twenty minute wait on the phone) and explaining this, the customer service representative on the phone proceeded to hang up on me. When I called again (another 27 minute wait on the line) they hung up again. I called in a third time (21 minutes’ wait time) and they hung up again. I understand the company is trying to make money. However, this is not the way to treat its customers.
I was just planning a trip to Italy in June (their high season) for a wedding and I wanted to talk to some of the hosts to be sure the place where the wedding was being held was close enough. Some of the places had automatic reservations, which means that if you wanted to ask the host anything, you first needed to reserve the place. I booked two places, because in the cancellation fee policy it said I could cancel them any time until 30 days before my arrival. Once I got answers from the hosts and determined which place was better for us to stay (a day after) I went ahead, canceled one, and kept the other. When I saw my account I was reimbursed but for 190€ less. Now they say that there’s a new policy for multiple reservations where they will keep the Airbnb service fee even if you cancel a reservation an hour after making. But this is not shown anywhere unless you look at the really fine print. Does anyone have any thoughts or recommendations on how to recover this 190€?
I recently stayed at an Airbnb in Philadelphia. It was so disgusting: black mold in the shower and urine stains on the sofa. The window to the fire escape did not lock. I had my family with me. It was New Year’s Eve weekend. We bravely stayed for one evening. I thought I would wake up with bed bugs. I contacted the host the day we arrived multiple times. He was very responsive. I contacted him again in the morning asking for a refund because his place was just so filthy and unsafe. He said he’d refund me. He’s not so responsive anymore. Two weeks later, and I’m still waiting. Airbnb customer service said to read over the cancellation policy. I guess they don’t care what type of accommodations their hosts offer. I will never, ever, use Airbnb again. Unbelievable.
I wanted to share my last Christmas experience so others can learn from it. I live in Singapore but am originally from France. This year we decided to bring our family from France to Bali to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s. Ideally, we wanted to find a house for the family so I decided to use Airbnb. The initial experience was good, but issues started to arise when we tried to reach the house (a quite peaceful paradise in Kuta). It took us more than 45 minutes with a private guide to reach the house as most of the time the host was not reachable. The house was advertised as a quiet and peaceful paradise in the middle of the busiest street. The real issue came when we reached the house. Paint was peeling off the roof, the bed sheets were not cleaned, the kitchen full of rust, and last but not least, taking a shower was part of an experience in which you had to wait about half an hour to get sufficient water to wash your hair.
I was feeling so bad that I immediately called Airbnb and the owner. The owner just said he was sorry but the cancellation policy is clear; there would be no reimbursement (does not take into consideration any difference between the pictures and reality). I decided to call Airbnb, which is in itself a challenge. I ended up talking to a person who said that he would call back to help me to find an alternative place to stay and mediate with our host. After five days nobody called, so I had to manage to find a last-minute hotel for the whole family. Today I received a reply from Airbnb saying that they were sorry but there was noting that they could do.
So my conclusions are:
- If you have a crappy house, rent it on Airbnb with no reimbursement policy. If the guests are not happy, too bad for them. Airbnb will not do anything as they need the transaction to get their cut.
- Airbnb is a high risk solution to accommodation. You may have the chance to find an honest host with great properties but you could also end up in the garbage. In both cases, Airbnb is only there for the transaction and will not risk the lost of any rent. This essentially means renters are screwed.
I’m still in disbelief and my host is a despicable example of a human being. His name is Aaron. On July 1st I used the Airbnb app and paid for three nights on his “boat in the bay with all the toys” to spend New Years in the Keys with my two youngest sons. You must understand this trip was their Christmas gift. Instead of buying them toys and such they might forget in a few days or hours I take them on a trip every year. Being a single mom this is no small feat. This year I wanted a new experience for them since we usually go to the mountains. The Keys were going to be great. I made a deposit on a fishing charter and was about to call to make a deposit for a snorkeling trip. I decided to communicate with the host again since we would be heading his way in two days. I sent him a text explaining how excited we were and asking if we were to meet him at the address provided at the check in time provided. I got an immediate notice through the app that my trip had been canceled.
I texted him. No response. I called him, and it went to voicemail. I decided to check his listing out again on the app and noticed all the trips he had canceled. Most were much further out than two days so I’m not sure why mine was not canceled earlier. I was mad and in tears at this point. After some searching I found a customer service number for Airbnb. The poor man got an earful and tried to find something else close by. He offered me a $150 credit towards another stay but we could not find anything close by that I could afford. I applied for the refund and will be keeping an eye on that to make sure I get my money back but I still lost my $416 deposit for our fishing charter. My boys were devastated. My pocketbook was devastated as well. That may not be much to you but it’s a lot to me and my boys. While the customer service experience with them was good the business model sucks. Please beware of the scammers!
Airbnb is great as long as nothing goes wrong. But the whole process is too complex for nothing to go wrong. In our case we were not able to travel to our booking in Yosemite National Park because of a national weather service advisory about a winter storm which clearly mentioned “not to travel unless in a emergency”. When we contacted Airbnb they suggested that we need to first cancel the booking and then claim a refund under their extenuating circumstances policy. After we cancelled the booking we filed a claim. The entire customer service experience was horrible. First of all, Airbnb could only be reached by email, which was slow. It took almost three days for Airbnb to reach a conclusion: they will not refund a single penny. When I asked for an escalation, a blunt email arrived stating that this was their final decision and they would not entertain any further communication.
We booked a reservation for our Christmas vacation in the Bahamas three months in advance. I requested the host send me the agreement and instructions on how to get into the house no fewer than either times. He would not send it. The day before we were to fly from Michigan to the Bahamas, he cancelled (I highly suspect he rented it for much more money or a longer period of time). We could not find another place on the island. We had to pay to rebook our airfare and cancel deposits for fishing and diving trips. We lost $1500 and could not even contact Airbnb to request any type of resolution.
Upon arriving to a home which was promised to be cleaned and ready for use, we found many items that could have potentially hospitalized or kids or worse. Prescription drugs (EpiPen in paper box) were left on an open shelf on a nightstand and picked up by my three year old. Used razors in the shower were also easily accessible by a toddler, along with melted bars of soap to add to the grotesqueness. Open containers of alcohol were in the refrigerator on the bottom shelf. Used tissues were stuffed into a seemingly new box, discovered by my 13 year old who needed a tissue and discovered a box full of dirty used tissue trash. Expired food (some from October) was in the fridge we were supposed to be able to use. The oven was greasy with stains that looked like they hadn’t been cleaned in years. Snow and fog prevented us from leaving the same night since we arrived late and discovered these issues late. Upon requesting resolution from Airbnb, they said the host had a strict cancellation policy and everyone has different opinions of what is considered safe/dangerous and clean. So they were suggesting we pay for something that we didn’t use and could have killed my kids. Airbnb needs to know their contracts should include verbiage that covers basic child safety requirements when hosts offer homes to families with children. Their staff should be instructed how to read and understand their own cancelation policy, which states if a home is unclean and unsafe that is concerned a legitimate reason for initiating a refund. How that is pushed as a matter of opinion or open for interpretation I don’t understand.
My story starts off in Athens, Greece on September 28th, 2016. I went into my Airbnb account and booked a stay with Konstantinos for $244. For some reason, the app stated the property was not available for my dates, and I would have to search and find another property. I did find another property for the same dates but for $318; this was a bit more but I needed somewhere to stay. Shortly after I received a message from Konstantinos stating that the property was not yet clean and it would take three more hours to be ready. I immediately contacted the host and bought the glitch in the system to their attention and that my credit card had been charged. My credit card should not have been charged because the dates were not available, so I had to rebook with another property for the same dates. Konstantinos asked me to please go and cancel the request and they would refund my full amount back to me. Konstantinos stated this made their ratings look bad and please go into the app and cancel the transaction and all my money would be refunded back to me. Here is a copy of the Airbnb messages between the two of us:
Konstantinos: Good morning! I am very happy that you will stay in my house! Can we set an appointment there at 14:30, because the house has to be cleaned and ready for you. Is it ok with you? Also consider that you need about two hours to get to the center from the metro. Waiting for your response and I will send you all the information about how to come here and check in! All the best, Kostas.
Me: I am sorry but my credit card didn’t go through and we booked with someone else.
Konstantinos: Okay, but I still see that you booked with me. Are you sure you cancelled? Because if not, your credit card is going to be charged. All the best, Kostas.
Me: Can you please release the charge? We tried to book with you and an error stated I could not book because the dates were not available.
Konstantinos: I cannot cancel the charge because I have penalties on my status from Airbnb. You have to cancel the reservation. Please try to do it and message me. Thank you.
Me: I will call Airbnb.
Me: I will text you back with an update.
Konstantinos: Okay, but please try to do it quickly to avoid charges and also it looks like the place is booked now. It is not good for me. Thank you.
Me: Yes, I know it is showing booked; that is why the system said my dates were not available to book, and my credit card was still charged. I did cancel but my money has not been released. My bank said you can release the authorization hold on my credit card.
Konstantinos: As i told you, you have to cancel. If I cancel, I will have penalties on my Airbnb status. After you cancel I will refund you, don’t worry. But if you don’t cancel ASAP I will lose money because the place looks like it is booked. Please cancel ASAP. Thank you.
Konstantinos: Did you contact Airbnb?
Me: No. I did go in and cancel the booking, so I will go back and recheck.
Me: Okay, see if it is canceled now.
Konstantinos: I just refunded the whole amount, 170 euros. Thank you and maybe next time!
You canceled this reservation
You will receive a full refund of $216 based on Konstantinos’s Strict cancellation policy.
You should expect to receive this amount in your VISA 9205 account by Thu, Oct 06.
However, I was only refunded $217.00 (didn’t include the service fee) and the very next day I was charged another $244.00 on my credit card again. I have tried endlessly to have the wrong corrected but haven’t had any success. Can anyone help or give me some suggestions on this matter?
I accepted a three-night rental in our one-bedroom apartment. In doing so, I blocked off those nights so that I could not accept any other inquiries for those dates. Then, the very day of check in, I received a message from the guest that he wanted to cancel, presumably because of a sick relative. They used their “extenuating circumstances” excuse to waive my cancelation policy. No other hotel or vacation rental site would allow a guest to cancel only 5-6 hours before checking in. And this is not an isolated situation. In the past several months, I have had three other cancelations, all at the last minute. So, I have resigned to the fact that Airbnb is not at all reliable. I don’t want to accept a rental for any length of time for fear that it will be canceled at the last moment and I will lose the rental income for that time period. What I am doing is blocking off all the future dates in my calendar and then only unblocking two or three nights ahead for last-minute, last-resort bookings. Since TripAdvisor and VRBO do not have such a policy, I will depend on them for virtually all my future rental bookings.