I have been overcharged by Airbnb over and over again. I have just booked accommodations in Italy and was quoted the price in USD. However, I was charged in YTL despite not having any bank account connected to Turkey in my Airbnb account. Airbnb converts the amount to a foreign currency and takes a hefty commission actually without doing anything. Now I will also be charged by Amex for a foreign currency conversion. It is daylight robbery actually. Despite me taking precautions to prevent it, this has happened again and again. There is also no way of contacting Airbnb – no customer service whatsoever.
A few tips to potential Airbnb guests:
1. Customer Service is basically non-existent. So be extremely careful not to make any mistake, or you’ll have to pay for it.
2. Do not click “instant booking” if you are not 100% sure you want it, because you’ll be instantly charged if the host accepts, which usually happens in a few minutes. It’s better to contact your host if you have any concerns prior to booking.
3. Check Airbnb’s cancellation policies carefully. They’re stricter than those at most competitors.
4. Always double check the price with currency symbols because you might get overcharged.
I did my search via airbnb.ca and found an apartment listed for 157 CAD/night. I requested to book the apartment for seven nights with four guests. The host responded and the total price was 1238 CAD on the pre-approval email; the total price was calculated based on guest numbers plus service fees. I then clicked on the “Book Now” button from the email and got re-directed to Airbnb Canada’s payment site. The price amount on the page was still 1238 CAD, so I paid. Since I had been doing all the transactions through Airbnb Canada, I assumed everything was still in CAD. Apparently the currency symbol on the payment page switched to USD without me noticing. I was actually charged 1619 CAD and ended up paying $381 more in Canadian dollars. I tried to contact customer service but haven’t had much progress yet. Overall I think the Airbnb website has an appealing UI interface, but the business practice does not favor customers. I will not use it again or recommend to others.
As long term Airbnb users, we can say it that is starting to go south and management doesn’t care. Firstly the currency conversion fees: when I book in a location with a different currency I am forced to use Airbnb’s woeful rates (more profit to Airbnb). I’d rather use my bank’s rates, but can’t do that anymore. Next we have awful hosts (looking at you NYC). What happens here is you enquire about a booking for given dates at the advertised price. The host comes back with a ‘special offer’ which is much higher than the advertised rate and may or may not include a ‘please pay me XXX on arrival in cash as well’. Nope, the calendar price is what we will pay. Suddenly, ‘I’m sorry the house is no longer available’. A bit of a grey area, but customer support doesn’t really care as there has not yet been a confirmed booking. Although a confirmed booking does not seem to matter either, as my next and last gripe will explain.
This has happened twice now. We make a booking, it is accepted, paid and confirmed, and we are all happy. Then sometime before the arrival date, the host decides to increase the price. We refuse, and ask Airbnb for advice. In the meantime, the host contacts Airbnb and they cancel on the host’s behalf. There are no penalties to the host, who is also a Superhost. We are left to find alternative accommodation and Airbnb doesn’t even follow their own terms and conditions.
We booked a house in Norfolk, UK for a week, and received confirmation from Airbnb. Everything seemed okay so far. The cost was obviously in pounds. We used our AMEX account, which is in the UK. We clearly paid in pounds from a UK bank account, but because our address is currently in Australia Airbnb charged us in US dollars and 8% for the currency conversion. So Amex paid out in dollars and converted it back into pounds for us to pay off the credit card in pounds. The house originally cost £681 and it has cost us £727. Unfortunately, it didn’t end there. The host cancelled, so I telephoned her to find out why; she said she hadn’t heard of us. The dates had been booked out for ages. She was so fed up with Airbnb she was withdrawing her property. So beware folks: check which currency you are paying in. My complaint was dealt with by an email quoting some obscure terms and conditions. I had the last laugh though because I was lucky and received a refund into my Amex account in US dollars, which Amex converted back into pounds. Due to a more favorable exchange rate, I actually made a very small profit. I will never use Airbnb. I think we got off easy.
I discovered a few months ago that my credit card had been charged more that 500 CHF from Airbnb. As I didn’t make any reservation at this time (I hadn’t used Airbnb’s services for months), it occurred to me that this was an unauthorized transaction. A few days after my account had been credited, Airbnb refunded the same credit card the same amount plus 6 CHF from fees that I had to pay to my bank for a transaction in another currency. Airbnb refuses to explain what this transaction was for (as I didn’t do it) and also refuses to reimburse the fees. I suspect there has been a security breach at Airbnb they don’t want to talk about. One employee replied to me:
“Additionally, we’re unable to release any information regarding the reservation or the user accounts involved without a formal request from a government agency or law enforcement, such as a subpoena. Should a government agency or law enforcement contact us regarding this issue, Airbnb will fully cooperate with such officials.”
It is not ok that customers have to pay for Airbnb’s security issues without any explanation.
I made a booking on the Airbnb website. It showed me the total was SGD $877 (Singapore dollars) and said it would be billed in SGD. I paid using a credit card issued in Singapore, with the default currency in SGD. My card got charged in USD instead, and there were hefty currency conversion fees from the bank. As usual, you can never find any number to call Airbnb for help. So after a long time navigating their “help” pages, I finally sent them an email to describe the problem. Someone actually replied, sounded polite, and earnestly tried to resolve the problem, but after a couple of email exchanges, you could already smell their dirty tactics on handling complaints. I can summarize their dirty tactics in just one sentence: blatantly lying, refusing to admit their mistakes, and then shifting the blame to others. They replied that the problem was that I was using a US credit card even after I emailed them evidence that my card’s default currency was SGD. They just kept insisting otherwise. They insisted that my credit card wanted to be charged in USD, which was never the case (I even called my bank to question them if such a thing was even possible). When I pushed for a more explicit explanation, they asked me to contact my bank and then simply stopped replying, both on Facebook and through email. The whole time they just gave template replies and sent me links back to their help page, which is obviously useless.