Airbnb is a Nightmare for Guests of All Ages

I am still fuming following outrageously dishonest treatment from a host in Leatherhead in the UK in early May which was arrogantly backed by Airbnb. They took over $849 AUD without providing any accommodation. I refused to stay in the accommodation shortly after check-in after enduring parking hell involving a building site with extreme restricted access in the “designated parking area” (see photo) and access to the flat. I was met with a drummer in the room above practicing and a room/flat which would never be described as “spacious” and certainly not “homely”.

The host was overseas at check-in and unreachable for three days. Instead he sent his mother to officiate, who showed no sympathy and was only concerned with defending her son. Airbnb even phoned me on my 50th birthday to tell me to take a hike and reduced me to tears as I apparently “hadn’t followed the cancellation procedure.” As far as the website was concerned, I had done so to the letter. The Airbnb representative was just nasty: she refused to take my photographic evidence into account that backed my case, saying that it was ” irrelevant” and condescendingly told me that “she didn’t have a problem with the website”.

I will never use this company again. I will certainly be warning others. The way the company operated towards me was utterly immoral and shameful and appears to deliberately make it extremely difficult to contact them. I would not trust them ever again. A disgusting organisation. Go to hell Airbnb.

Host Cancels and Immediately Becomes Unreachable

If you are looking for an Airbnb the Galway area, avoid this host. I take issue with a few things that happened in my encounter with Airbnb. This was my first time attempting to use the service and because of the way this cancellation was handled, I am unable to leave a review of the host on the other end of this reservation. I think the way this was handled was extremely unfair. I don’t think it is good business practice to not allow me to review this host so that others may avoid this problem in the future.

I booked the reservation for myself and five other travelers. Within just a couple hours of payment, the host contacted me and said that she had accidentally listed the wrong dates and could not accommodate us. However, when I attempted to contact her, the phone number she messaged me with came up as disconnected. I was also unable to message her. I could not reach her to ask further questions about how the cancellation would work and the money was already taken from my account.

I was obviously concerned, so I called Airbnb’s customer service number and spoke with a representative. While he was quite helpful, he did not seem to grasp what I was trying to tell him. She, the host, was the one who canceled the reservation, not me. Airbnb and the host alike both seemed to expect me to cancel the reservation so that the host could avoid a penalty. To some extent I understand this, but on the other hand I believe it to be a dishonest and inaccurate way to handle the situation. The bottom line is, she cancelled, not me. She does not have to pay a penalty but I am out $440 for up to five days as a result of her canceling.

Not only was that situation incredibly frustrating for my first experience with this business, but I am unable to leave any sort of review for this host so that other users may avoid this situation in the future. I am unsure how Airbnb handles affairs with their hosts, but the fact that this cancellation was handled like I was the one who canceled it so that the host could skirt around the penalty is very suspicious and untrustworthy. It is unfair to users who have their money suspended for a week while the host gets off. It is even more unfair that she is completely unreachable and Airbnb has no way for me to leave a review or lodge a formal complaint about this woman.

My Case was Closed Before the Case was Closed

I booked a place in Cusco, Peru that only said it accepted up to two people. When a friend decided to join us, I had to cancel and find a new place. However, upon contacting the host, she confirmed we could have three people; I rebooked the same place for the same time. Airbnb refunded $229 of the $401 fee but hasn’t refunded the cancellation portion of the fee ($172) of the first reservation that was placed in error. I am now staying at the same place for the same dates and have overpaid by $172.

Now let’s discuss Airbnb’s Customer Service or lack thereof. I contacted them to explain what had happened and the agent claimed she would try and contact the host to resolve the situation. The whole issue happened because the Airbnb system won’t allow for the correction of a cancellation made in error and they force you to rebook and pay again. Anyway, the agent wasn’t able to reach the host and I received a followup email asking if the case was resolved. I had one week to reply or the case would be closed. I did reply (three times) and finally after a few days, Airbnb sent me an email stating the case has been closed and I could resubmit to open a new case.

What just happened? There are now several other companies that do the same service as Airbnb (Hometogo for example) so I guess I’ll be looking elsewhere for my next vacation booking.

Airbnb Does Not Guarantee Your Room or Rate

This is the letter I sent to Aisling Hassell and Brian Chesky and received no response.

Dear Airbnb,

Over this past Memorial Day Weekend, my wife and I had the displeasure of finding out just how well (rather, poorly) Airbnb takes care of its guests in unfortunate situations. I have had so many wonderful successes with Airbnb in the past that I am convinced this is a result of mismanagement coming from the supervisor of the customer service member who was handling my case. This is a formal complaint about the supervisor. My customer service representative, Brian, did everything in his power to help me out and I do believe he tried his hardest to resolve the problem.

Three hours before my wife and I were going to check into our Airbnb rental in San Antonio, our host canceled on us. This is a booking I had made almost two weeks in advance. I found out our host had canceled when Brian from your customer service department called us asap to help resolve the issue. I was a little freaked out as this was for my wife’s birthday; we are on a fixed budget as we are expecting a child in three months. I had searched hard to find a nice Airbnb within our budget that was close to the city center so we could get around easily. Brian and I looked at all the available rentals leftover for Memorial Day weekend and the least expensive option was $612 for two nights in a neighborhood I was not familiar with. The rental we had reserved was $270 for two nights in a nice apartment building with plenty of security.

I was reluctant to opt for a bungalow house in a strange neighborhood but it looked nice enough. Brian then informed me that Airbnb would only cover the cancellation refund plus 10%. This was not even close to us being able to afford the higher priced rental – I told Brian that was unacceptable.

How could Airbnb not guarantee our stay? It’s not our fault this host canceled. How can we be expected to pay more money for our vacation than we already agreed to pay? I told him that if the $612 airbnb rental, which was the cheapest one available is too expensive then Airbnb needs to put us up in an adequate hotel. We looked online and found that the Weston had a special rate $570 for the two nights. Brian said he would have to check with his supervisor and get back to me in an hour.

An hour went by and sure enough, Brian called me back. This time the refund had gone up by $100 and I told Brian that was not good enough: it was still not enough to make us whole. It would mean we would have to spend an extra $242 in order to afford the only available Airbnb rental left. He said he would call us back in an hour. Another hour went by. We were now in San Antonio without a place to stay. Brian called us back and told us the refund has gone up to $200. Once again, I explained to him we did not have an extra $142 dollars to spend on lodging for this vacation.

At this point, I requested to speak to his supervisor. Brian said his supervisor was unavailable and will – yes, that’s right – call me in an hour. Another two hours go by. I sent an email to Brian explaining no one called us. Three hours go by (that’s a total of six hours since the cancellation). At this point, my pregnant wife and I had to change into our dinner attire in the bathrooms of the restaurant where we were celebrating her birthday. Brian called me back in the middle of our dinner. I had to step away from this lovely celebration so I could yet again discuss where we were staying that evening.

Brian apologized about his supervisor not calling and once again said there was nothing more he could do. At this point, I told Brian that we were not going to be able to afford our vacation. He still couldn’t help. So my wife and I had a lovely dinner and drove back to Austin.

Yes, we got a $200 credit for a future Airbnb but that’s poor compensation for ruining our long weekend. I just don’t understand how this happened. How could it possibly be the case that if a host cancels on you hours before arrival that Airbnb won’t guarantee a place to stay that is as good or better than what was reserved? How can I trust Airbnb with my larger trips from this point forward? Thank god we only had to drive home, but what if we were stuck in a foreign country? What would happen in London or Japan where the next cheapest room might be many hundreds of dollars or thousands by the end of a vacation? Must I take that risk every time I book with your company?

This can’t possibly be. If the world found out this was the case, no one would use your service. I would imagine Airbnb would want to protect a traveler’s room guarantee at all costs. This is why I think this was not an Airbnb policy issue but a manager’s poor judgment. A poor judgment that cost a family their hard-earned vacation. At this point, we didn’t spend any more money because we ended the vacation almost before it began so I am not writing this letter asking for more reimbursement.

Unable to Cancel After Reading Fresh Bad Reviews

My wife and I booked a nice property in Pattaya, Thailand back in April this year for a holiday we planned for June. We saw the nice pictures and read the nice reviews, so we decided to book this property. Reviews have always been one of the main factors in our decisions for booking a property. Everything was fine until we saw three bad reviews on that property that occurred in May. Some of these reviews were quite bad, as some guests had bad experiences and shared them for all to read. We were really concerned about the prospect of having a similar experience, especially with my four year old with us. I attached the reviews above.

We no longer wanted to stay at this property. If we had read such reviews, we would not have booked that property. Our only problem was we had booked it two months ago in April. Our problems started when we contacted Airbnb, and an agent who said she was our case manager basically told us that there was nothing she could do for us as there was a company policy regarding refunds. Since the reviews are written by hosts and guests and not by Airbnb, bad reviews were not a reason to cancel bookings; there was going to be a 50% cancellation fee.

She made me feel that were creating trouble when in fact we felt like we were being victimized and forced to commit to a property that appears to be okay, but was in fact not. Would anyone who read these reviews even consider staying there? This is not right. Airbnb was trying to be polite and claimed to want to help us but just came across as condescending. It’s ironic that she said the reviews could be fake and Airbnb doesn’t recognize reviews as reason for cancellation, when reviews are the company’s bedrock for sales. We would really prefer to stay at a different accommodation and be given a full refund or to have the charges applied to a different property asap. We are running out of time.

Airbnb Left us in the Lurch in Southern France

We rented an apartment for five months through Airbnb. We arrived at our destination and contacted our host as previously arranged. He did not meet us as planned but left a key in an empty mailbox on site. We were immediately disappointed in the apartment and its furnishings. We had paid top dollar only to find rummage sale furnishings, broken window blinds, stained carpet, a broken bed, a television with no user information, linens in poor condition, and a building filled with the smell of cigarette smoke. We contacted the host within the 24-hour window and requested remediation. He missed two appointments to address problems and didn’t even contact us until we were in our third day of this distress.

At this point we contacted Airbnb. We were contacted in swift succession by a number of Airbnb representatives. One of them indicated that it was clear we could not stay at the location. He recommended that we leave immediately and that Airbnb would pay up to $150 for a hotel. We were told to go online and cancel the contract. They did not tell us that this would mean that we would still be responsible to pay rent for the next 30 days. At this point Airbnb went entirely silent and basically abandoned us. There was no follow-up after being told to hit the street. We believed that the contract was cancelled because the landlord had not lived up to his contractual obligation and that we would be reimbursed. It turned out that “strict cancellation” means that the guest pays under any circumstances, even when Airbnb knows it was a bum deal.

Airbnb gave us no further instructions about arranging for another Airbnb property or about negotiating with the landlord for another property the the landlord had on hand. At that point we simply didn’t trust him. The host actually threatened physical confrontation. No one takes any responsibility at Airbnb. As it happened, a colleague rented another location from this “five-star” landlord to find that dozens of rats inhabited the attic. It took days to get that addressed. Airbnb does not oversee or caution hosts with serious complaints against them. Another money making racket with no concern for what it delivers. We contacted Airbnb again. After mediating with the host, Airbnb said that the host would return a mere $365 of the $1700 monthly rent.

Airbnb Long-Term Cancellation Policy: Buyer Beware

My husband and I booked a two-bedroom, two-bath condo for our 25th wedding anniversary. However, my knee gave out and I was unexpectedly forced to have total knee replacement surgery. We booked the condo through Airbnb and the owner had a 30-day cancellation policy. That was fine. We canceled three months and one week in advance because my surgeon did not want me to travel on a 5.5-hour flight over the ocean with no chance of stopping after undergoing the surgery, due to concerns about edema and blood clots. We were penalized 50% of our total amount because the hosts “have a super strict policy.”

First of all, we did not know about such a policy until after we booked; I was contacted by Airbnb when we attempted to cancel. The only policy we were given at the time of booking was the owner’s policy of a 30-day cancellation. Sure enough, on the Airbnb website, after much searching, I found the 50% penalty policy. Interestingly, it says in order to be afforded this tremendous opportunity, one must be “invited.” We weren’t invited; we never even knew about it. However, Airbnb says it is a policy for this particular listing. The owner of the condo says it is an Airbnb policy.

Whichever organization or company made the policy, Airbnb indicates that they have an appeal process, which we followed; my doctor wrote a letter explaining that I could not fly such a long distance until the very end of the year due to the possibility of complications (which I experienced with my first knee replacement). I even sent them my MRI results and an explanation of the surgery. They denied our appeal, again saying they “have a super strict policy.” To cancel over three months in advance and be penalized well over $1,300 is beyond absurd. So, when I can fly at the end of the year, we will never stay at this particular listing again (although we have stayed there many times), and we will never use Airbnb again (it was our first experience with this company). What a scam.

Bachelor Party Last Minute Cancellation – Nowhere to Stay

Having booked an Airbnb to stay three months before my bachelor party, we were notified at 9:00 PM the night before check-in that our host had been evicted. In the email notifying us, the case manager provided a refund and a $200 credit, along with three listings that were 30-50 miles away from our original location. Needless to say, there were no desirable homes, and very few suitable ones for a group of our size. After finding a number to call via a friend who works at Airbnb, I spoke with an agent on the phone, and the agent told me they were going to run a few more searches and call me back. An hour later, I called again, found out that outbound calling was having trouble that evening, and the agent wasn’t able to call me back. They also weren’t able to help us in our search for housing either. We ended up finding two entire homes on the site our own and booked them that night, utilizing the $200 credit as well. In the morning, we were denied one house (it had already been rented, apparently) and were told that the host would be staying with us in the other as they weren’t able to find alternative housing on such short notice… tell me about it. We cancelled the second home, although we were charged for a day because we were within 24 hours of check in. We ended up booking hotel rooms instead. A week later, we still haven’t received a refund for that one day and have no credit to compensate us for the additional cost of a hotel and pain that this cause. Overall, I couldn’t be more disappointed with Airbnb’s customer service and lack of effort with what was a really important weekend for me.

Airbnb Hosts Can Cancel Reservations Without Cause

We made reservations with a host in Amsterdam in September 2016, but our host cancelled our reservations in April 2017 without any reason other than Airbnb’s Amsterdam agreement to limit the number of nights hosts can rent out their apartments to 60 days per calendar year. Why would you make reservations ten months in advance, purchase airline tickets and foreign currency with no confirmed lodging in place? That is the question we’re asking Airbnb to answer for us. If any host can cancel your reservations, why even reserve with Airbnb?

Now we are out $2600 for airline tickets because we refuse to settle for lesser accommodations. The ones we booked were listed by a “super host”. A super host listing doesn’t mean anything to us because we no longer trust the Airbnb business model or platform to uphold a confirmed reservation. This was our first time booking through Airbnb and we can honestly say that we will never trust Airbnb or any similar entity that rent out vacation properties in this manner. I’m looking to join a class-action lawsuit with other Airbnb guests that have been inconvenienced for the convenience of an Airbnb host. This practice is not fair or ethical by any means.

Can’t Contact Airbnb About My Extenuating Circumstances

I had my first Airbnb trip planned for this week. I was very excited about the trip, but Sunday evening I had a head injury that required ten stitches. Thus, I couldn’t travel this week. I contacted my host and she has been wonderful, however, Airbnb will charge her a fee if I don’t report my “extenuating circumstances” directly to them. According to the policy on their website, I am eligible to cancel my trip and get a full refund. The problem is that they don’t tell me how to contact them with documentation. When I search “contact Airbnb” I’m routed to their list of help questions. Of course, the answers to these questions don’t help. I have responded to their help page feedback, but I’m not getting any answers.

I finally did a Google search and found the Airbnb phone number on Airbnb Hell – thank you for that. I called and talked to a representative who was very nice, but he had to put me on hold twice to get the answers to my questions (improper training). He told me to email my documentation, but I said the email isn’t on the site so I needed to know the email address… he actually had to put me on hold for this. He came back and said that he would have to email me and that I could answer the email and attach my documentation. He did send the email right away (from response@airbnb.com). If this does not resolve the problem, I’ll be back on this site to write a follow-up.