Beware of this Airbnb host. I am sharing my experience so that no one else books a strict policy booking with this host and loses their money. I accepted a lower priced invitation (1200 USD) to sleep in this hosts living room for the month of January. She encouraged me to book and pay immediately since there were other interested parties. I did. Unfortunately, two days later, a family emergency arose and I realized I would have to cancel the stay. I immediately contacted the host so that she could rebook with the other interested parties and reimburse me. This is when I discovered that she had imposed a strict cancellation policy on the booking. I did not even know such a policy existed since, in my experience, normal and fair business practices are flexible bookings. The strict policy means that no matter what, you do not get any money back. Family illness, death, force majeure… it doesn’t matter. The host declined to pay back the 1200 or any part thereof, even though she had ample time to find someone else; I was not due to arrive for a few days. As a landlord, if a tenant’s plans change, I try to reimburse what I can. I would not keep a full month’s rent when there’s the possibility of finding a new tenant. I find that such an extreme position shows a lack of class and character. I have always had positive Airbnb experiences but the fact that they even allow such a policy makes no sense to me. There are hosts offering real private rooms (not living rooms) at similar rates and they offer flexible bookings. Most people are reasonable. Things happen in life. Unless you are prepared to throw away money on services not received I would not risk a strict booking with this host or any other hosts on Airbnb. Flexible bookings are another matter, but make sure you check.
I am sharing this story to warn my fellow travelers for making bookings through Airbnb. The company provides a platform and charges money for it, but does nothing to secure your stay. I made a Instant Booking at a five-star property – in IMPZ Dubai – for $890 from December 25th to January 1st on August 1st, 2016. I paid in full, and received a confirmation mail from Airbnb that the booking was done. We were content and planned other details for the trip. On December 6th, we made a call to the host just to touch base. He flatly refused to accept the booking, saying he did not have any ties to Airbnb and the booking had not been confirmed. On being told that Airbnb was showing the booking as confirmed, he cancelled the reservation. We received an automated mail from Airbnb informing us of the cancellation, with their regrets and suggestion to make an alternative booking. With great effort, I found the email address for Airbnb, where the customer service representative first apologized and then suggested I make an alternate booking. She took a couple of days to share two listings; both cost double the price of the original booking. The representative simply refused to do anything beyond provide a $100 coupon as compensation. Many email exchanges followed and finally they closed the case with a blunt mail stating that this was their final decision and they would not entertain any further communication. I had to make another booking on my own which was worth $1900, suffering a loss of more than $1000 over my original booking.
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.
Four days before our flight we booked accommodation through Airbnb and it was only afterwards we realized it was a house share, which was a deal breaker for us; we like our privacy. We cancelled within one hour of booking. The total order was for approximately £346, and we were refunded only £146 a few days later. When I called Airbnb to find out why, they said they have a strict cancellation policy and that I would need to ask the host to refund in full. I emailed the host and said whilst I appreciate the terms and conditions with all due respect she did not lose business in this hour between our booking and cancellation. She said that she hardly gets any money, and the majority goes to Airbnb. So neither the host nor Airbnb are willing to help. I am sure this was the quickest £200 they made. Surely they should apply some common sense here and refund us but they are sneaky and hiding behind the terms and conditions. I am absolutely disgusted at both the host and Airbnb; they should be ashamed of themselves. Unfortunately, I am sure many other people will have this problem, I would recommend people stay away from this nasty organisation that clearly lacks common sense and customer service.
I wanted to book a room for two nights and found this listing that I liked. I was under the impression that if a room is advertised it should be available, so I went ahead and sent in my booking request to the hosts through Airbnb. I have verified myself on Airbnb through my driver’s license. This reservation is during Christmas when prices go up within a few hours. After almost 12 hours, the host responded and requested I cancel the request as she has family coming over. I went ahead and cancelled, but I still saw the listing available on Airbnb. Why is it still up if they know family will be taking up those rooms. Is this not discrimination?
My elderly mother was due to arrive in Strasbourg this evening at 6:30 PM. The host told me he could not meet her until 8:30 PM. I rang Airbnb customer service to ask for general advice on how to deal with the situation – while I was walking – and they refused to give me any information until I was verified. Because of a glitch – an old and expired visa card was listed as the default – they would not verify me and hence refused to give me any advice. I then stopped in the street, set up a personal hotspot to use my computer, and verified the card. This was on my way to work where I would be in meetings all day. Now verified, Airbnb told me that as the host had listed his check in time as 2:00 PM, he was under no obligation to meet my mother at all after that time. Firstly, that’s a risk I think all customers should know about. Secondly, this meant my elderly mother, who does not speak French, would have to stand in the cold, with her heavy bags until the host felt like meeting her, if indeed he did at all. I then had no choice but to cancel and make alternative arrangements. In followup emails, the same patronising bureaucrat told me I didn’t have to cancel; Airbnb could have called the host to help you. He could have told me this before forcing me to stop in the street and verify myself. I have had to book a hotel at huge cost as well as pay for the Airbnb. I am stunned at how appalling they are at customer service.
First of all, I want to say that I’m really an Airbnb fan and I’ve used it in Southeast Asia, China, and Korea. Every time I got a surprising experience and I’ve been trying my best to recommend the site to my friends (you can see the list of friends I’ve invited in my account). Now here is the problem: I booked a house in London for my next trip there on January 27-28, 2017 and I fully paid for it with my Airbnb gift card. The host just cancelled this booking today without any communication ahead of time. What he did really caused a problem with my trip planning. Because we have four people in our group, we need three beds total and as you know, the houses in London are always very hot (difficult to book) – that’s why I booked it three months prior. Now I need to choose another house in London, which becomes more difficult. I saw Airbnb’s statistics during my booking which showed only 13% of houses were available in London for those dates. What’s more, I checked my booking today but found that the host had already cancelled my booking on November 3rd; Airbnb didn’t send me this information until today, November 29th. I want to ask for the reason, but there’s another problem. As I said before, I paid for this booking with my gift card one month ago and now I found Airbnb said they provided a refund directly to the gift card. After my payment, I just threw away the card, code and all. I need the refund to come back to my account so I can use it to book another house in London. In brief, I have nothing and lost 1087 RMB. Meanwhile, I don’t know how to spend that night in London as houses for four people are difficult to find now. I think Airbnb is always responsible for its customers and I look forward to receiving compensation from them.
Don’t trust Airbnb with their cancellation policies. I had a guest arrive late one evening around midnight. They seemed quite happy with the apartment, then the next day called to say that they had found a place closer to the sea, and would like to leave. I said that would be fine, and then they asked for their money back. I responded it was not possible as I have lost other bookings. The next day they left and cancelled with Airbnb and requested a refund, which I declined. They also left the place filthy and full of rubbish. I heard nothing from Airbnb until after my next guest arrived, then they processed the refund from the payment of the other guests. Without telling me. This is daylight robbery. So hosts: beware your Airbnb cancellation policy means nothing. You are not covered. And what’s worse is they said that the apartment was listed incorrectly, which is all they have to do to get out of the cancellation policy. Do not list your property in Airbnb if you are a host.
I can honestly say Airbnb is the worst company ever. My very first experience: halfway through my stay the host was caught stealing utilities, the Internet was cut off, the entrance lock was broken, there were no bins, causing rubbish to be left in open bags for days on end, and to cap it off, my host left me with a departing gift: head lice. Upon heading to the nearest Internet cafe (because there was no Internet) and sharing my woes with Airbnb customer service, were they able to quickly offer a resolution? No, that was too complex, but they would call me back at their leisure. Four hours later I got called back while I was in the middle of the city. Obviously I didn’t want to share the more embarrassing elements of my stay in the middle of the street, but I agreed with the case manager that because the host was unresponsive and they had been caught stealing Internet that had been cut off, I could terminate my stay.
The next morning the host still had not been in contact to arrange an orderly exit so I headed out into the street at 6:00 AM to get reception. I contacted customer service to terminate my stay, only to have the new customer service agent decide that not being able to offer the agreed services wasn’t a good enough reason to terminate my stay and I would have to get pictures of the cockroaches and a doctor’s note for head lice. After some battling we agreed if I could capture pictures of the cockroaches I could leave, so I went off to sneak around the flat taking pictures. I sent the pictures to Airbnb and customer service promised they would sort it out. Meanwhile, I headed off to sort out my own accommodation.
So how do you imagine they sorted it out? A full refund, maybe? That would be the least you expect, right? Nope. What about a refund for the portion of the stay that had to be cancelled (you would expect there would be no debate on that)? Nope. They nickel and dimed me and gave me a partial refund of the amount of the stay that couldn’t be completed. You would expect that now they had photographic evidence of hygiene issues, cockroach infestation, an unresponsive host, the previous guests’ reviews all raising hygiene issues, and a guest who now suffered health problems because of his stay the listing would be suspended, right? Nope. It was still open for bookings. It took an angry week and multiple case managers until finally one agent looked at the case and after an angry email finally came to the conclusion that this was really bad (cockroaches, rubbish left out, key didn’t work, Internet cut off, and I got head lice; it took five case managers to get to someone who agreed this wasn’t acceptable).
So finally Airbnb grudgingly offered a refund (but cancelled their goodwill voucher gesture). Since this agent was streets ahead of her awful colleagues and by this point it was way beyond my expectations of Airbnb, I actually felt really good about having achieved something. I decided I would give them another chance by taking my nephew away for a short couple of days; this would be a perfect no-risk way of giving Airbnb a second chance. I tried to book a cabin in the mountains for two days. I found a cabin that was available on instant book, confirmed the dates, clicked instant book, was routed to the payment page, and everything looked good: Airbnb won’t charge you until the booking is confirmed. Instant book is easy: either it gets booked, or it doesn’t; there is no risk.
I clicked the payment button when suddenly there was a new step that hadn’t been there when I chose instant book. My first awful experience: they required government ID (passport or driver’s license). I didn’t have a driver’s license and my passport was being renewed, but it seemed all good because the booking was marked as pending. There was no payment success message and no text or receipt was issued. I thought to myself: Airbnb won’t charge anything until the booking is confirmed. I just cancelled the pending request, safe in the knowledge I still had money in my account and headed off into the real world armed with my phone to book somewhere else, only for my card to be declined. It turns out that despite not having confirmed the booking, not having displayed a message highlighting that there were further steps needed, not having displayed a payment confirmation, and not having issued a receipt, Airbnb had taken payment just in case it would go through.
Having given them a second chance, I would have expected customer service to be super helpful. Not at all. They just lied about what the process was like, claiming I had been warned, until I told them I had screen captures of the payment steps. Then they claimed that instant booking wasn’t instant booking, no payment had been taken, and it had already been refunded. In the end, I just wanted a receipt so I could take the issue further here in the UK with the authorities. The agent tried to send me to a blank page claiming it was a receipt, just point blank refused to provide a receipt for the funds taken, refused to discuss it, refused to escalate the matter and then he just hung up. Despite the rest of this story being appalling both with regards to the accommodation provided initially and the customer support, how could Airbnb refuse to provide a receipt for funds taken? This is statutorily required both in your jurisdiction and mine. The initial accommodation was appalling but the customer support and the disregard with which they treat guests in stressful situations is just beyond imagination. My experience has been embarrassing, frustrating, tedious and unrewarding. Now despite having had to stay in an unfit, unhygienic property, suffering health issues as a result of my stay, I am out of pocket yet again and because of Airbnb’s behavior my nephew and I are disappointed.