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.

Airbnb Has the Worst Customer Service

I’ve taken three trips in six months with Airbnb. Each was wonderful on its own and each experience with a host has been great. However, on my last experience, due to an issue with our passports at the airport, we had to cancel our trip less than 24 hours before the check-in time. As a result, per the terms of agreement, Airbnb charged us the service fee and the first night of stay. However, once I received my credit card bill I noticed I was charged more than that. It seems that an issue with the time zone calculation cost me an additional nightly charge and a cleaning fee to a place which I never checked in. After calling Airbnb (twenty minute wait on the phone) and explaining this, the customer service representative on the phone proceeded to hang up on me. When I called again (another 27 minute wait on the line) they hung up again. I called in a third time (21 minutes’ wait time) and they hung up again. I understand the company is trying to make money. However, this is not the way to treat its customers.

Airbnb Customer Service All But Impossible

We were supposed to spend a month in an apartment with good reviews. We arrived there pretty late. The place had not been cleaned at all. There were mounds of dust on one of the doors, a refrigerator filled with half-eaten food, a bed sheet that was very old with hairs of debatable origin on it, toothpaste on the countertop, brown stains and hair on the back of the bathroom door, soda cans and bottle caps under the bed, and hair and dust at accumulated levels in the bedroom. Large food particulates were in the toaster oven, most drawers had things in them, and nothing seemed cleaned. It was late and we called Airbnb for help. They told us we could not get a refund because the unit owner had a strict refund policy and we were already in the apartment. Of course we were in the apartment; that’s when we learned that it was disgusting. Are they really that stupid at Airbnb? Whatever genius was working that day should be fired. Supposedly I am getting some money back, but so far nothing has been refunded. We are talking about thousands of dollars, and I have heard nothing about getting my security deposit back even though we never stayed in the apartment. I tried calling Airbnb; it’s all so automated that you can’t speak to anyone. Big time nightmare. Bottom line: the concept seems good when it works. But if your host is a pig, Airbnb could care less. Never will I use that company again.

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.

Currency Conversion Doesn’t Explain Higher Fees

Airbnb is a corrupt, money grabbing, poorly operated business that should be avoided at all costs. Back in September 2015, we booked an apartment in Boracay, Philippines for 91 nights from November 2nd, 2016 at a price of around 8,534 Australian dollars (indulgent, I know, but not the point of this story). My credit card was immediately charged $2,874 to secure the booking and a schedule was made for two additional payments: $2,784 on November 28th and the final $2,786 on December 29th). All good. A few months later, I contacted the host to request the booking be shortened by two nights to better fit our flight schedule and the host agreed. I then proposed the change through the Airbnb app and he accepted it. I didn’t get an updated fee at the time but wasn’t too worried, trusting it would all be sorted out when the time came.

Around March 2016 I started getting emails saying that they were having trouble deducting $1,918 and that I needed to resolve the matter with my bank. I replied to the email saying that that amount was not due but the emails kept coming at regular intervals for the next several months – and I kept telling them that it was incorrect. I never received any reply or explanation. Around September 2016 the emails finally stopped so I assumed they’d figured out the glitch. We arrived at our accommodation on the newly scheduled date and the apartment and host were amazing.

After immersing ourselves in the holiday for a few weeks, something came up that meant we would have to head home 3.5 weeks earlier than planned. I spoke to our host, who was gracious and agreeable and told me to just submit the request through the Airbnb system; he would then accept the change to update the booking. Using the app, I submitted a change request and a screen came up saying that, with the new 65 nights (instead of 91) the price would be $9,279. This was a $745 increase for 25 fewer nights, so it would have been cheaper for us to just leave the apartment empty for the difference in time. As I looked closer, it said that the change meant that I would be refunded $5,500 from the original amount of $13,000-odd dollars which was definitely not the original amount.

I went to speak to the host and he had no idea why that had happened so we found a way to contact Airbnb tucked away in a convoluted area of the app and began contacting them that day (November 22nd). After a few days, they sent an email to say that the host had increased his prices since my initial booking so the new prices had been applied (I guess it went up to $13,000 when I changed it by two days but I was never alerted to any possible increase when submitting the change proposal or given a new remittance when it was accepted). Their only solution was that the host can overwrite the booking cost with the agreed total amount due. My host advised that he had not changed his prices so we asked Airbnb how they calculated the new fees. No answer.

In the meantime, I happened to check my online banking app and discovered that Airbnb had deducted $1,918 from my credit card on November 2nd. This was not a scheduled payment date or any authorised amount, but happened to be the exact amount that they had been emailing me about previously. Obviously they finally figured out how to steal that money from my credit card. Several more requests for help, including an explanation about the unauthorised credit card deduction, were sent. Still no response.

Eventually, the host and I sat down and worked out a mutually agreeable total. His login only allowed him to enter the amount in Philippine Pesos so we converted it according to the official exchange rate and he submitted the change proposal. While I still sat next to him, my phone came up with a change notification in the Airbnb app which I opened. It sent out the new amount on which we agreed($5,831) converted to Australian dollars within a few dollars of our calculations plus an Airbnb service fee of $407. So I pressed “accept”. It immediately changed to a screen saying that the changes have been made and the new amounts are: charges $105 AUD × 65 nights = $6815 AUD; service fee, $460 AUD; total $7275 AUD.

So the “proposal” that was accepted all of a sudden became $984 more for the accommodation and $53 more for the service fee? This is when we started calling the help desk to try to get them to change the figures to reflect the amount the host had entered into the Airbnb system. One of the staff tried to explain that it was because of the various currency conversions but that wouldn’t explain how it came through, converted through the app into Australian dollars, in the amount agreed with the host, in the proposed change. It only changed to some unfathomable amounts when I pressed accept.

Although we were being really polite and patient, this lady obviously couldn’t explain what their system had done so she just put us hold then hung up on us. We called the help desk back, went through the ID verification process again and had to tell the whole story to another staff member. This one, too, hung up on us. We called back again and talked to someone who seemed to be listening but then just “explained” that the new amount was $7,275. We started the explanation from the beginning and we think finally got him to understand that the new amount showing on their system was WRONG and needed to reflect the amount the host had entered and I had accepted. He said he would go get someone to fix it and call us back in 15-30 minutes.

So as not to miss the call, we sat with the host for two hours without a reply before calling them back and going through the ID verification process for about the 10th time that night and were told that a “case manager” had been assigned to us and he would call us in a few minutes. Another hour passed (we were now up to the fifth hour of this nightmare) and eventually we got an email from our Michael, our “case manager” saying that he would be happy to make the change once he got confirmation from both me and the host of the amount we wanted the system to reflect. He said he would be finishing his shift at 8:30; the email was sent at 8:24. The host and I both sent emails confirming the amounts in our respective currency and trusted that (because of the time difference) it would be fixed by the next day.

Instead, we received an email saying that this was all to do with exchange rates and “explaining” to us that exchange rates change in a daily basis – like we are complete idiots who don’t understand how exchange rates work. It gets better. He went on to say that they applied the exchange rate from the initial booking date (back in September 2015), which just happened to be much more beneficial to their fee calculation plus the 3% that they keep. So what their system does is: if you change your booking by even one day they apply any change in charges by the host and any increase in the service fee that has occurred in the interim according to the day of the alteration, but they don’t use the exchange rate of the day; in this case, they used an exchange rate from 15 months earlier. There is no other business on earth that would work this way. I am betting that, if the exchange had worked against them, they would have applied the new rate. If course, this ridiculous exchange rate excuse doesn’t explain how the Airbnb system correctly converted the Pesos into Australian dollars in the proposal that I accepted. It gets even better: hoping (naively) that they may have sorted it out overnight, my host checked my booking again the next day. The new amount I had to pay was now 420,069 euro, or about $600,000 Australian dollars.

I have now cancelled my credit card before I lose my house. The host has since changed his listing to TripAdvisor so he never has to deal with Airbnb again. Thankfully, throughout this whole thing, our host was amazing and supportive and as helpful as he could be given the deficiencies with the Airbnb system. There still has been no explanation, apology or solution from Airbnb. Please never use this service or this nightmare could happen to you.