Worst Valentine Getaway: No Help from Airbnb

I know a listing that must be taken off Airbnb. Customer support has not helped. Fay’s place was a nightmare. It’s unsafe – three dogs, broken guardrails – and has dirty floors, couch, kitchen and bathroom. It is not a private home, but rather a shared upstairs living room. She and others live there with three large dogs separated by a curtain with no door. It is a dirty studio with a view of her garage (guest house conversion) and three large German Shepherds which go outside and inside freely with no separation between them and your private space. Before arriving I contacted her several times with no response. The house was dirty and clearly thrown together at the last minute before we came in. The location would be ok if it was not the worst house on the block and an eyesore. Having three large dogs in the back yard barking at us was not ok and inviting them into the house without consulting us was also not ok because they bark at you aggressively. Also having Fay yell shut the hell up aggressively did not help us feel comfortable in this situation.

Airbnb was not helpful in resolving these issues and did not care about our safety and comfort. Instead they only asked us to take pictures of these issues at night in an unsafe house and conditions. Jolanda, our customer support case manager, answered the phone several times without responding for minutes while we were forced to listen to the room full of side conversations until she decided to answer the phone out loud (clearly someone was in training and rude side conversations dominated the actual support). After getting Jolanda on the phone and explaining these issues she said there was nothing Airbnb could do and they said that they wanted to contact the host and resolve the issue while we were there, without considering our safety and comfort in this terrible situation.

If a listing is unsafe and uncomfortable, then Airbnb should refund the cost of the rental and take the unit off of the market until the issues listed in the reviews have been resolved and reviewed by an Airbnb agent. They did not facilitate finding another location to stay even though they said they would and they would not acknowledge that several others have had these same issues (which we later found in other reviews). Also, after Jolanda said that she would find us a place to stay in 5-10 minutes she did not get back to us at all. So after waiting for 40 minutes I called Airbnb and stayed in contact with their team for over four hours with zero helpful customer support and no access to a customer support manager or supervisor. There is no excuse for this level of service.

Other important notes: if the outside railing of the second floor is rotting and spilling over to the bottom floor then this unit should not be listed as safe. If it is not a private home then it should not be listed as such. If it is not a penthouse then it should not be listed as such. If the host cannot fix these complaints and cannot prepare her home properly then she should not be a host. Also, Airbnb provided zero follow up with me now 15 hours after the event; customer support was rude and provided no conflict resolution for the four hours I was on the phone with them. After traveling with Airbnb for years and having many positive experiences I can only imagine that this was a freak event at a freak location. I would like to hear a response from Fay and Airbnb explaining the resolution to these issues.

When Airbnb Cancels Your Reservation Without Checking

In late 2016 I made two reservations on Airbnb for a New Zealand holiday. In mid-January 2017 (i.e. one and a half months later) I discovered two unauthorised transactions dated January 14th and 15th using the same credit card for Airbnb in China and two non-Airbnb charges in the UK. I contacted my bank and told them which transactions were unauthorised; they cancelled the card. The bank notified Airbnb of the two unauthorised transactions and refused the two pending charges in the UK. Three weeks later Airbnb contacted me to tell me that their security team had identified suspicious transactions. They just cancelled the two earlier reservations in New Zealand without checking with me to see if they were legitimate. Then I had to try and contact them to get the problem fixed. Emails just bounced back as undeliverable. I couldn’t contact the hosts to try and let them know that we were still coming and what happened.

Finally, I located an Airbnb phone number and waited until someone answered. I explained the problem and was told how it would be fixed. I then received repeated email messages telling me the reservations had been cancelled, and there had been a problem with my card. I couldn’t reply by email, spent ages on the phone, and could not get transferred in their call centre to the person who knew about my case. They promised they would call back, which sometimes happens and often does not. I am recovering from cancer surgery and the New Zealand holiday was something to look forward to doing with my wife, but it is now a nightmare that I can totally do without.

To cut the story short, they still have not managed to fix the problem and are trying to charge my cancelled credit card, not using the new card in my profile. We had used Airbnb twice before without any issues and thought it was a good service. Now, I will never use them again and will tell all my friends to do the same. This is a classic situation in customer service. A customer who complains is giving the company an opportunity to fix the issue. If it is fixed promptly the customer will go away but still tell others about a good experience. If it is not fixed the customer goes away and becomes a negative walking and talking advertisement for the company, because not only did the company screw up, but they did not fix the problem or – in some cases – even try to fix the problem. Customer service like this damages the brand far more than any positive advertising can hope to repair. Airbnb really needs to up its game.

Airbnb Customer Service is Completely Unprofessional

I just opened an Airbnb account and was unable to verify my ID despite following the exact instructions for the setup. I went through hell to no avail to find answers from their useless help center and eventually found a link to raise my question. It went to a community member whose answer did not help. I opted to transfer the question to Airbnb. After three or four days, I finally received an email from a “Customer Service Experience” team member. The answer she gave is a repeat of what I have tried on the help center. The most horrifying bit? She has my Airbnb account associated with an email address of a stranger. I am terrified to see this – does that mean after I signed up for my account, someone fraudulently altered my account email without my knowledge? If this is true, it is a security breach on Airbnb’s part. The “reply to” address is a generic box, so of course I never get any response back.

I went back to the Airbnb Help Center trying to find a way to raise a question; it turns out the system has users endlessly looping and there’s no way for me to ask another question at all. My major complains with Airbnb’s dodgy business:

  1. The Airbnb website has a list of acceptable online accounts to link to an user’s account to establish trust. After linking one on the list, the system keeps asking for more. This is false advertisement and gives no clear indication of how much Personal Sensitive Information (PSI) they attempt to collect from unsuspecting users. This is a big trust issue for a company like Airbnb.
  2. Their own customer experience team told me my account is linked to an email not known to me. This seems like a huge security breach to customer data and worthy of attention from the press. There is no way to address this with Airbnb since there is no way to contact their customer service directly. The customer experience team is a joke.
  3. Customer service is non existent as I have experienced it. In the real world, people using services run into issues that can’t be resolved by looking at help center topics and need to talk to a real person. Having a dodgy website that keeps looping through help topics and not giving customer a way to contact Airbnb just shows how serious Airbnb is about serving customers.

Is the company trying to hide something?

Host Cancelled 24 hours Before we Arrived in Paris

We had a last minute cancellation by a host 24 hours before our arrival in Paris because of bed bugs. That reservation was mostly made with Airbnb gift cards and a small charge placed on my credit card. We were contacted by Airbnb via email, (luckily I had connected to wifi while we were having lunch in Brussels) and while we were sent a list of available properties from Airbnb, none met the criteria of our original booking; we were given a one-bedroom unit when we needed a two bedroom for my mother, wife and myself. Our customer service representative told us just to make contact with new hosts directly and book what we wanted. Airbnb offered a 10% refund for our troubles, which sounded good at first.

We found and booked a new property with a host named Adjel, using the Instant Booking feature on the app. The gift card balance from the original cancellation was applied to this new reservation, and we thought we were set. Hours later, though, Adjel informed us that the property we had booked was not actually available, and he shouldn’t have accepted the Instant Booking request because he was having work done on the property. Rather than cancelling immediately, he tried to shift us into another property that simply wouldn’t work for our group of three. We asked several times for him to please just cancel. We notified our customer service representative that this was happening. By this time, it was late in the evening, the night before our arrival in Paris, and we still didn’t have a suitable place to stay. There was no response to our request to cancel the unavailable booking from Adjel, or Airbnb staff.

We found a third property that would work, connected with the host, Justin, and booked it as soon as he verified availability. In the morning, we got word from customer service that Adjel had finally cancelled, and that our gift card balance was refunded to our Airbnb account. We responded that we wanted the gift card balance applied to this new reservation with Justin, not just refunded to our account. I did not want Airbnb “store credit.” That didn’t happen as requested and now we’re struggling to get this settled. We don’t want a $550 Airbnb credit sitting in our account when there is a $600+ Airbnb charge on our credit card. We have called into customer service again this evening, and were promised by the representative with whom we spoke that this could and would be resolved.

That was several weeks ago and I finally received an email from Airbnb saying that they would not do anything. I had spent several hours with their “customer service” department and was hung up, put on hold for an hour, etc. I explained the situation to my credit card company and they made a charge back to Airbnb since they were not willing to help. I have dealt with credit card processing in the past and it really is not that hard to credit an account and charge the correct amount, but apparently Airbnb was not willing to take care of this. My wife and I started using Airbnb back in 2009 and have had great experiences; we’ve never had a problem before. Our third Paris property had a view of Notre Dame, was right on the Seine, and had all the charm of what I expect from an Airbnb property. Over the years I have raved about Airbnb but this event has completely called their business practices into question.

Math is Funny to Airbnb Customer Service

To even attempt to express my full dissatisfaction with Airbnb right now would be difficult; I barely have the words. I have been attempting to resolve the following issue for two weeks. I’ve spoken to six people, and nobody will connect me to an actual manager. I asked for a manager before even explaining what I was calling about this evening and was hung up on. Airbnb has lost my business forever. This all started with a $500 gift card. I placed a reservation, then cancelled the reservation because of issues with the host. Everything is documented. The host refunded half. Airbnb refunded the other half after a case review back to the gift credit. While this was going on, we placed another reservation with a host we have booked through Airbnb in the past.

The balance at booking we owed before the resolution with the original host was refunded: $181. This was charged to my debit card. Then I was refunded $8 to the debit card. Then Airbnb charged $210 to the gift card. Then Airbnb refunded $210 to the gift card. Then Airbnb charged $113 to the gift card. Then Airbnb charged my debit card $218. Airbnb has $391 of my money now after the $8 refund. The amount left on the gift credit is $387 (a difference of $4) The total for the trip: $504 The original starting gift credit: $500. I owe Airbnb $4. They managed to take their $4 after charging me for everything else instead of using the gift card. I need my money returned to my debit card. I have been attempting to accomplish this for two weeks. The gift card needs to be depleted to $0. I owe Airbnb $4. I needed a phone call from the “trip team” or an actual manager capable of issuing the refund. This has been absolutely ridiculous, unbelievably frustrating, and incredibly disappointing.

Airbnb Claim Problem with Bank Account

We have been hosts for Airbnb for two years and pride ourselves on making sure our home is in a ideal state for guests. This year on the day our first payment was due Airbnb contacted us with a claim that our bank details were incorrect. We were surprised, because nothing had changed since our last payment, but responded as requested immediately afterwards. Now it’s been three weeks and there is still no sign of the $5000 we are due. We tried to call the company, due to the fact no email address is available. We have had to phone four times now, each time waiting in a queue for over 40 minutes, all on our bill. We asked to speak to the relevant department, but was told they don’t have access by phone. Because of this, we asked to have their email address; they avoided answering this request. Basically you receive lip service but the person at the call centre has no understanding of anything. I was told I should use PayPal, however I informed customer service it would incur a cost to us. They didn’t care, just saying, “well, if you want the money.”

On my last call I was in control and explained I wanted to resolve the problem so therefore I needed to speak to someone who would be able to help and understand the process. Eventually the help centre representative informed me she would be terminating the call. I was left speechless, put out of pocket for thousands of dollars with no way of getting any assistance to resolve our situation. We literally have no other phone lines to which to turn. Other than Airbnb being a very corrupt company, I don’t believe this level of looking after your customer service provider is the norm.

Left in the Dark: Abandoned in the UK

I travelled in the UK Sunday for my one-night stay, planning to arrive late evening at 10:00 PM. During the day the host asked if I would switch to an alternate property. I understand now that this is common tactic from disreputable hosts. When I arrived at the property, there were three people having a discussion in the hallway – they were other residents in the same property. I headed upstairs to my room, but found it locked. As a surprise to me, the door opened and there was already someone else in the room. I phoned the host, but his phone was turned off. When I got back downstairs, the couple in the hallway had exactly the same problem. The third person was a regular resident, and he said: “At this time of night, just take any of the empty rooms.”

The couple took one such room. I investigated another but it was clear the sheets had not yet been changed from the previous resident. I tried to phone the host again but there was still no answer. I sent the host a polite text message to say I was giving up, and used my phone to book a room at the nearest hotel. Later that evening I exchanged text messages with the host, who promised a full refund, and apologised. Monday I had a busy day at the office, and then traveled home. On Tuesday, the host refunded me, but not all my money. When I pointed out that I was still owed a small amount the host said that it was Airbnb’s responsibility.

Here is where the problems start. First of all: a navigation hell going around in circles to get a refund. All options pointed me towards the host. Eventually I found a chat link. The customer service representative could see the refund message from the host, but told me they have to check my story with the host. I don’t like my word being challenged like this. Then customer support told me that if I really did not get my room there would be penalties for the host. I wondered why the host would volunteer to take such penalties? Surely it is in their interest to say, “I turned my phone on later, and if he had waited I would have cleaned and prepared another room.”

I argued for 30 minutes in the chat window trying to explain to customer service that I’m only asking for my £5 booking fee to be refunded, and do they not understand how foolish it is to upset customers. She only had one answer which is to quote the policy of checking with the host. I gave up trying to change her mind. Later I received an email from customer service saying I could not get a refund because I would not allow them to contact the host. This is definitely not true; I remember saying it was pointless, and not good service. Many emails have gone back and forth with Airbnb. It seems that each time I complain about the process, they take it as a reason not to perform that process. If you ever fail to get the promised room that you booked, cancel through Airbnb and rebook again if you choose to. Don’t let the host promise an alternative, or a refund. Don’t deal with the host. I don’t normally print the booking receipt, but the agent said that the Airbnb phone number is on the receipt, and with hindsight I should have called that number when I was left in the dark without a room.