I was trying to arrange the trip of my life with my sisters and a friend. We are all mums and have busy lives and very little time for ourselves, so this was going to be our trip. I booked with this woman, Gigi, for a twelve-night stay. Before the trip (I live in Switzerland) I contacted her and told her that my sister could go to see the place. If she was okay with that, she could give her the keys at that time. She said she had to hand me the keys in person so I said that was okay. I also told her I would be arriving at the apartment about 8:30-9:00 PM on February 1st, which we did.
At 9:00 PM, we were outside the house and she was not answering the phone. After a while, she appeared but didn’t want to be seen (she was going to get in the car and go shopping). I recognised her from the picture and approached her, asking if she was Gigi. Her husband or boyfriend was also there but he was in the car. He knew we were the guests because he heard us talking about her before she appeared, and were the only ones with baggage at almost 10:00 PM. She reluctantly told us that she needed more time to get the apartment ready so we would have to wait in the lobby; she needed to get some pans and pots from the shop.
After fourteen hours of traveling you don’t want to wait anywhere; we just wanted to get inside, relax after this trip, and settle in. Because I told her we didn’t want to wait at reception she started to make a fuss about it and started talking to her boyfriend in Spanish that we didn’t want to wait. I also speak Spanish so we understood what they were saying. After some time she got really upset and rude. She suggested that I cancel the reservation, but I told her I wanted to have my money back. She only said that it had to be done through Airbnb.
I tried to reach Airbnb customer service that night, which was impossible. Therefore I had to deal with her first and then I had to fill out the forms in the help centre on Airbnb. That night we had to book a hotel at the last minute in which we stayed two nights. We had to pay almost $500 on top of the 1500 Swiss francs I had already paid. A few days later I received an email from someone at customer service claiming to “totally understand my situation and my frustration”. She generously wanted to give me a $200 coupon for another booking. I wrote her back and received an automated email that said that the case was closed. Still, there was no money in my account. I kept filling our the refund form until I got $562 back, but i paid 1500. I kept trying to contact Airbnb and finally got through to customer service. They wrote this:
It’s Sarah here from Airbnb, thank you for taking my call. Marcela, I can confirm that you will not be entitled to any further refund from your cancelled booking with Gigi. When you cancelled the reservation, your host’s strict cancellation policy was applied. Outside of this policy, your host sent you a refund of CHF562 which she did not need to do. We have already explained to you that to be considered for a full refund under our Guest Refund Policy you would have had to contact us within 24 hours of check-in, provide documentation of the issue, not to have caused the issue and used reasonable efforts to remedy the situation with the host prior to making a claim. I am sorry that things did not work out for you on this occasion and I hope that you understand that these situations are very rare.
I couldn’t check in: Gigi never let me. I did try to contact customer service. I did everything I was supposed to do – even arrived on the premises on time – and I get punished and robbed? Is this normal? Is this how companies treat their customers? Where is the decency and where are the company values? People just want to screw people over and no one cares? If I wanted more I could tell Gigi that she should have paid for my hotel expenses. The apartment was not ready upon our arrival and it was not my fault. Why should I have to pay?