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.

Host only Obligated to Meet at Exact Check-in Time?

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.