No Compensation for Trouble with Host and House

I’ve been an avid Airbnb user for a while now, paying for around nine consecutive months in my travels. I used to trust the service and recommend it to anyone. I recently booked a new place. The listing said it was for two people, a private room with one bedroom and six beds.  I messaged the host, who should have been a woman based on her profile picture. I asked to book for around a month and a half from March 11th. The response I got was that the house was not finished yet, but should be by March 17th. I said that it was important for me to arrive on the 11th. I got a response saying that they may have everything ready by that day, and if I was fine with that I may come; they sent a special request for the new time I stated for the same price. Later, I found out that they changed the cancellation policy to a stricter one as well.

Unfortunately, my flight was cancelled twice, leading to me getting there a day late. The owner declined a refund for that day when I asked. This is where things started to go astray. I met the owner, a middle aged man nothing like the woman featured on the profile. He showed me the place, which wasn’t where it was listed on Airbnb but a few minutes’ walking distance from there. He explained that the house wasn’t ready yet, and led me to a house still under construction, unfurnished, and filled with cardboard and dust. Basically I had a decent room, but no shower, kitchen, or almost any of the amenities that appeared in the listing. Construction workers woke me up everyday when they started working, and there was no internet in the apartment, though it had been listed – something that was specifically important for me.

There was another guesthouse rather close by where there were some of the amenities listed (like a shower, kitchen, internet). I used that for whatever necessities I had. On the second day, I was locked outside by the construction workers and had to call the owner in the middle of the night for help. The first time this happened he asked me to sleep in the other guesthouse’s attic, which I myself had suggested earlier. However, I found out later that this wouldn’t be a good idea since people go in and out of there many times and it wouldn’t be possible to sleep. I called once more and he angrily refused. I had to make him come and open the door to my house, which was very bothersome for him. The living situation wasn’t comfortable at all and it was very cumbersome to move between these places and in between the construction going on in the building.

He had said things were expected to be finished by March 17th. So I waited. Things didn’t improve much, besides the shower and adding a few hangers. There was still no internet, no common areas, and no kitchen. I decided to call Airbnb customer service, and had a talk with a guy named John who was nice and promised to help me. He said that he could refund all of my money and help me find a new place. However, after a while we couldn’t find anything feasible so he said that he would advise me to keep looking for places and his colleagues would help me. After that, I got few responses from the team, in which they sent me links to places that were very different from my requirements: much lower standards, way over budget, or very far away from where I was. I talked to them once more and tried to explain that right now, apartments in Tokyo are hard to find with such short notice. It was also a busy tourist season, which would make it even harder.

More time passed, and I called again. Emailing customer service was slow and cumbersome. This time I spoke to another guy who asked for pictures of the place, which I provided. He agreed that the pictures showed the place in construction. However, he decided to call the host. What followed was a long conversation I had between him as a proxy towards my host. I basically said that I would like to get a refund as well as some compensation for the trouble that I got. It is simply unfair to customers to sell them places that are still under construction and not ready; I wanted to get some compensation for the days I stayed in that house as well as the days I was looking for a new apartment. The customer service personnel told me that since the host sent me a special request that showed the value of the new place with construction and everything, and made it clear to me that the place was under construction, I would not be compensated. They also said I should have expected that construction such as this go well past deadlines.

This would have been a good response, if it weren’t for the fact that it was simply not true. The price was exactly the same price, and not a special offer at all. This was simply done to change the date as well as the cancellation policy, in and of itself something a scammer would do. The message I had been sent was “the house was not ready”. I always assume that the houses listed on Airbnb are held to some sort of standard. In no way do I think that “not ready” is equivalent to “there will be construction workers with helmets building rooms and running around you filling your socks with dust.” I was given a date when everything should have been finished. There shouldn’t be any excuses on that point. It’s a business. I paid money. I expect things to be on time. If they are, the minimum response is to compensate and apologize. I tried explaining this to the case manager but he wouldn’t really do anything about it. He decided to give me a coupon for Airbnb and said that this was already above and beyond what I should get. I left with a feeling that I would rather spend my next twelve months of traveling with a different company. I advise you to do the same; there is not much added value for a middleman if he doesn’t help you once things get shady.

Here are some pictures of the apartment on the first day.

Airbnb’s Insurance Policy Doesn’t Protect Guests

In February, our Airbnb rental in Mexico was burglarized. The police came and a report was filed. All told, between two couples, we lost over $4500 of our possessions. The owner was very helpful; he filed a claim with his insurance company, which was denied about two weeks later because we were renters. Our personal homeowner’s policies covered all of our losses except our $500 deductibles for each couple, which might mean that the cost of our policies could go up.

I contacted Airbnb Customer Service over 12 days ago, to collect the two $500 deductibles from them. I was told to send all corresponding information to them, which I did. It has now been almost two weeks since Airbnb’s last contact with me. I have attempted to have other emails answered by their employees to no avail. I am now very angry at the rudeness of Airbnb. In the last two days, I have called the 855-424-7262 number four times. I was on hold for over 15 minutes each time with music playing, then when the music stopped (all four times), and I thought, yeah, someone is going to talk to me, I was disconnected. All four times.

I am mad and will not give up trying to reach Airbnb. They cover insurance for their homeowners; there should be insurance coverage for their renters as well. We are half of their business. My first communication with one of their representatives went very well. I thought this was a good company. However, in the ensuing two weeks, with no followups and reading about problems many other people have had trying to contact them, trying to reach someone by phone only to be disconnected four times after 15 minutes on hold, I am now convinced that Airbnb does not care. The CEOs have made their millions (billions) and they just don’t care anymore. I will be renting from HomeAway and VRBO in the future. Step up to the plate Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk, and Joe Gebbia. Someone at Airbnb should be reading the complaints and frustrations of your homeowners and renters on this website.

Unprofessional, Rude, and Unhelpful Customer Service

My partner and I had confirmed a reservation for a modest accommodation in Brentford. It was small; however, it suited our needs due to the location and all amenities. I had been in touch with the host, Gurneet, and we had spoken throughout my booking and afterwards. Gurneet asked yesterday if we’d be able to change our dates to April 31st to May 2nd rather than March 28th- 31st. I told her we wouldn’t be able to as we have no other accommodation in place for the other dates. She assured me that was fine and that the accommodation was still available. When I asked what the issue was she said it was merely a maintenance issue with fire alarms that she’d discuss with her landlord. Fast forward two hours: at 11:00 PM I received an email from Airbnb notifying me that our reservation had been cancelled. Though Gurneet and I were in regular contact on Whatsapp she cancelled the reservation then sent a message through Airbnb.

As soon as I received this, I called Gurneet. She did not answer. Instead I received a message asking me not to call, as others were asleep. I asked her why she had not given any notice of this being an issue prior to cancelling, to which she could not answer. In fact, Gurneet blocked me on Whatsapp. I then tried to call Airbnb, as they claim to be open 24/7. After spending an hour waiting on the line with no answer I went to bed. This morning I called Airbnb again, hoping they could help me. I spoke to a lady called Kira who actually shouted down the line. I’ve never spoken to someone so rude and unprofessional. After discussing the issue at hand, Kira informed me that Airbnb could only issue me with a refund plus 10% of what we spent. However, had the host cancelled 24 hours or less before the date we planned to stay, Airbnb would have helped us rebook. I explained that this whole situation has been so stressful and we had failed to find another accommodation in the same or similar location with the same amenities. She told me to continue looking and rushed to get off the phone.

When I said I didn’t find it fair of Airbnb to only offer 10% when all other accommodations nearby were higher than our price range this is when she shouted at me and asked why I didn’t think it was fair. When I responded to ask why she raised her voice. I said I found it incredibly unprofessional for a member of Airbnb’s staff to shout at a client. She claimed she hadn’t raised her voice – still shouting – and said if I didn’t let her speak she’d hang up. I said I couldn’t believe how poor the service she provided had been and put the phone down. I also explained to Kira prior to this that the experience was much more stressful as my partner is coming from Australia, the airline had already cancelled his original flight which had been due to arrive on March 27th and issued him with one arriving March 28th, so I had to change bookings accordingly. Now eight days may seem like a lot to some people, however we specifically booked in advance as we knew we wouldn’t be able to manage everything if not. Now we are receiving no help whatsoever and I just have to hope I can find another accommodation in time. In regards to Kira, I hope no one else has the unpleasant experience of talking to someone like her who clearly doesn’t suit her job. When she should be encouraging and helpful, she offered no help whatsoever, instead taking it upon herself to shout in a situation that was already stressful to myself as the guest.

Impossible to Speak to an Airbnb Decision-maker

Airbnb has insufficient customer service: everything is automated, and the staff has changed from the US to an overseas call centre where nobody has any authority to handle anything but straightforward cases. There is no email address, no complaints department, and no phone numbers a robot company with incompetent employees. There are two issues with this system:

1) My previous guest did not check out, left half of his stuff in the room, and took the house key to my home where I live with my family. This is a major security issue because a stranger is somewhere out there with the key to my home in his pocket and nothing has been done from the Airbnb side. I spent the whole evening on this speaking to four people. Now it is 10:00 PM; I started to ring them at 6:00 PM. To change a door lock in Australia costs $350. That’s not enough cover for damage done by guests.

2) Photographers. After I moved houses, it took nine months to finally get someone to take an accurate photo of my single room. Because I have no fish eye lens I was not able to take a decent photo of the room from an angle where everything is visible. After the photographer finally arrived (three hours late) he took photos and downloaded them to the wrong listing. This was four weeks ago. In the meantime I got bad reviews of guests who thought rightly, that the advertised photo (room in the old house) is inaccurate, even though the same furniture is in the room. I called Airbnb four times where I was left waiting for hours. Despite this, nothing has happened. Airbnb threatened to cancel my listing because I do not have five-star reviews due to the inaccuracy issue.

In addition, the expectations that hosts have to provide five-star accommodation and service is unrealistic. A hotel room in my area starts from $180 per night and I charge $26. I provide low cost accommodation in an almost brand new, meticulously clean home in a beautiful area. 98% of all my guests were very happy with my service and facility. Surely one cannot expect butler service and five-star accommodation for $26 per room per night in an expensive tourist area in a western country like Australia.

Ring Stolen by Host Leads to Customer Service Nightmare

I rented a condo in Panama City Beach, Florida in January 2017 to visit an old friend with terminal cancer. Upon arrival, everything was fine. When I returned home I realized a diamond ring that belonged to my late sister-in-law was missing. As you may imagine I was sick. I have never lost anything and that would be the worst thing to lose. I sent a message through Airbnb to the host, asked them to please look for it, and reminded them in what bedroom I stayed. Low and behold, they found it on January 31st 2017. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was. They asked for my address and for how much to insure the package, and I provided the information.

It is now March 14th and I still do not have the ring. I contacted Airbnb on February 10th after multiple attempts to communicate with the host to which they would no longer respond. Airbnb reviewed all the messages and opened a case. I have not been contacted by Airbnb once. I have called multiple times, been on hold for 30-45 minutes, spoken to someone who stated that my case has been assigned to someone and they would be contacting me, and to date there has been absolutely no contact. Every day I call Airbnb, hold for a long period of time, speak to someone and that is it. I have asked for a manager or supervisor each time and was always told they were busy. I have insisted that I speak with someone and have been hung up on three times now. I am not sure what to do. I have contacted the local police department, filed a report, and also reported Airbnb to the Better Business Bureau. It’s bad enough I lost the ring, but the worst part is lack of help from Airbnb. I will never use them again.

Moderate Cancellation Policy Leads to Terrible Customer Service

After our Airbnb reservation was canceled by the host less than 24 hours prior to our arrival in Los Angeles (it had been booked for two months), we were in desperate need of booking a new place as soon as possible. We quickly booked the first one that looked good to us but unfortunately once they showed us the address, we realized it was in the wrong location. We then canceled it so we could book a new place in the right location. The cancellation policy was ‘Moderate’ which essentially means they only refund you 50% of the full payment. The Airbnb property had been booked for less than twenty minutes and we felt we should have gotten a full refund. We could have used it towards a new reservation in the part of the city we were expecting. After speaking with about six different customer service representatives who all told us the exact same thing – we cannot get a full refund because it’s ‘policy’ – we were furious. We were in a 24-hour battle over the phone with a number of different reps who did absolutely nothing to help us. They were unsympathetic toward our situation which we wouldn’t have even been in in the first place had our original Airbnb host not canceled on us. They refused to refund us the rest of the costs and did nothing to even put us up in a replacement Airbnb. We ended up having to book a hotel room for our first night in LA because our Airbnb account had been disabled. This was a huge inconvenience for us and had a huge negative impact on the rest of our trip. We will not be using Airbnb in the future and will tell all our family and friends to boycott it as well. Airbnb should get better customer service.

Tax Season: Airbnb Team Lies About Paperwork

On January 10th, 2017 I contacted Airbnb customer service. I am in the process of filing my taxes and found that my 1099-K for 2014 was missing. I do have the 1099-K for 2015. I have logged eight hours talking on the phone with customer service representatives and have been referred to their “Tax Team” who haven’t yet responded. Each time I call I get a different explanation as to why in 2014 they withheld 28% of my payouts and why I may not have received a 1099 for that year. My request to the Tax Team has been made urgent and yet forty days later I have not heard from anyone. This raises the question for me whether the 28% they withheld went into their own pockets, what kind of organization they run that they can get away with not responding for over forty days, and why is there no other recourse? Do I need to contact a lawyer? We are talking about $4000 that they withheld and told me but won’t provide documentation that they may or may not have paid it to the IRS.

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.