In the middle of a trip through Indonesia I booked a stay in Bali. In the communication with the host we came to an agreement that it would be more convenient for both of us to stay somewhere else. That was no problem, and there were no bad feelings about it. I booked another stay for the same date. The problem I have now is that Airbnb already took the whole payment for the now-cancelled booking from my bank account. I tried to contact them on their dubious help center. There is no option in the pre-selected answers that fits my needs. After calling their telephone hotline I waited for 45 minutes without someone picking up the phone until my account was emptied. Now Airbnb is completely silent without any response. How can they charge two bookings for the same dates anyway? Do they think I split in half and stay at two places at the same time? This platform seems handy if everything goes smoothly. When there are problems, especially if the problem is caused by Airbnb itself, it is nearly impossible to get into contact with someone from Airbnb. This looks very strange to me when you consider the high sums they charge for their “service”. There is no service!
Some friends and I rented a place in Kealakekua, Hawaii on the Big Island. The accommodation was up a very long, bad road. We should have been told we needed four wheel drive to get there. We had to crawl in and out at two miles an hour. We could have walked it faster. When we arrived, we were told the accommodation had been double booked. He blamed Airbnb. Alternative housing was substandard at best. When we went to go to the proper place the next day, we drove to one side of the house and were greeted with “f$%# off, this is private property on this side and we will come and get you when the house is cleaned.” We finally got into the place we paid to rent the next night at 8:00 PM. We missed two nights of beautiful sunsets. The host was likely manic, on prescription pain killers, or a coke head. He walked aimlessly every morning talking very loudly and abusively into the phone. The place we rented was misrepresented. The second bedroom was in the car port with the bathroom being a utility shed. He kept all his construction business tools in that car port and we were woken every morning by the sound of folks loading tools and driving their big vehicles past our bedroom. It may seem like a small complaint, but there was no tea kettle in the place, and even more serious, no corkscrew. This was not the greatest way to end a beautiful holiday.
I went to visit my daughter in Seattle, planning to stay for a week. The apartment, given that it was the host’s primary residence, was pleasant. However, after five days the host called my daughter on the phone and informed her (not me) that I was to vacate the apartment immediately. He claimed that if I didn’t his landlord was going to evict him and charge him $600. My daughter was distraught; she took one of my checks and gave it to the host. The host gave me about twenty minutes to pack up and leave. The only review of the host stated he’d abruptly cancelled the reservation of two young women who just happened to be counting on staying in his apartment when I was requesting a reservation. I doubt that was a coincidence.
Of course, Airbnb would have liked to have washed their hands of the whole matter. I persisted as best I could and the host offered a small settlement. Airbnb claimed they’d tried to reach me; they tried exactly once. After that, they screened my calls. In the end, being the clever person I am now and then, I had my bank cancel the check due to fraud. I also immediately cancelled the credit card Airbnb had on file. Once they have your card they can do anything they like. In the end I guess I prevailed. The $600 was returned, the security deposit was returned, and I still received the settlement.
Now they send an email a day over a bill for $19. I go to their help section and tell them I’ll send them a check. I just put one in the mail. The point is that their customer service is dreadful. It’s all skewed towards the hosts. How many young people get caught up in this kind of nonsense? They’ve gotten too big, too fast. I do give Airbnb some credit. The host has lost his privileges after extorting cash from my distraught daughter. No cash should ever change hands directly between host and guest.
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.
I have been an Airbnb user for the past three years and was always happy with it. So much so that I encouraged my workplace to use Airbnb instead of hotels. When I first tried to book an apartment for a business trip, I got three cancellations for dubious reasons or no reason at all. Given that the trip was approaching I started to be very stressed out but finally found a place, which I again intended to book, only to be asked for a verification of my passport. I did allow Airbnb to verify my passport but then I did not get confirmation that the booking had gone through. Having had the three earlier cancellations I got even more stressed and found a fifth place, which I booked and this time it went through. Unfortunately for me though, the first booking had also gone through and the system did not make me aware that there was a double booking. The emails to that regard came through 20 minutes later (all four of them at the same time). I panicked and tried to cancel the second booking straight away (in the same hour) only to find out that the host had a strict cancelation policy and of the roughly $420 I was charged I would get $30 refunded, even though I cancelled within the hour. I contacted Airbnb using the phone number provided on this webpage and got through to an agent, who nicely thanked me for using their services for three years and told me that he would put my case through for the full refund. Thus far I still have both reservations going, as I do not dare cancel one; I was told Airbnb would do so. I strongly advise any Airbnb user to be super careful with bookings and wait at least an hour to see if a booking has gone through or not. The Airbnb refund policy is simply ridiculous.
We booked a three-bedroom unit in London for a week, with our host, “Caroline”. After a few days, Caroline informed us via the Airbnb email system that she was cancelling the reservation because the unit was booked on another website. Really disappointing, but I guess that happens. So we started over and found another three-bedroom unit we liked with a new host, “Lola”. Lola had some great reviews. Again, I prepaid the entire reservation on my Visa and it seemed like we were all set. Then we received another message from Airbnb stating that our payment method was not valid, our new reservation had been cancelled, and our Airbnb account was to be closed immediately. Our payment method was certainly valid and in fact Airbnb had now charged us for two reservations. I called our credit card company (Citibank) and they said that no refunds had been processed. Now, I’ve booked a hotel and I’m fighting with Airbnb to get my money back. They say they have processed the refunds, but Citibank says they have not. What an amazing scam… I mean service.
This happened over a year ago, but I thought I’d share. Two months before traveling to Chicago, I found a small apartment (in reality, the attic of an old Victorian) on Airbnb. I needed it for five nights and the description said there were three beds, a stocked kitchen, and a full bathroom. The price was right, so I booked it after exchanging emails with the host. In particular, I wanted to make sure it was safe and that I could prepare meals for my children. A week before traveling, I got a text message (off site) from the host. She said Airbnb made an error and because of that error the space is double booked. I told her that I didn’t know that was possible and, as I was the first to book, I should get priority. She didn’t respond.
We flew into Chicago and arrived at the place. It was adorable. However, there was one bed… not three. There was, however, a couch and a loft with a futon mattress. The kitchen had a sink and a hot plate. But, we could make it work. The first night, the host approached me by walking up the internal stairs (without knocking) and said that she will need us to move downstairs the next day. I was shocked. I asked why and she admitted that she was still double booked and that their business was economically better because the next family was spending a month; she couldn’t afford not to take their reservation. She said, “Not to worry… I have another space you can stay in.” I said, “Then make them stay there until we leave.” Obviously, that didn’t please her. But, she turned and left.
The next day, we went out to explore the city, returning at 9 PM. It was immediately obvious that there was a new rental car in the driveway. As we were getting out of the car, the host greeted us and told us she had moved our stuff downstairs and couldn’t wait to show us our “rustic cabin.” I was furious! But, I had kids and it was late so… what choice did I have? We were led downstairs and the host had the nerve to complain that we’d left dishes undone and towels on the counter upstairs. Well, yeah, we thought we would be returning to that room and planned to do our dishes then.
As soon as she opened the basement door, I was displeased. The stairs were steep, unlit and rotting. A string of Christmas lights had been hastily strung as lighting but it was dark. At the bottom of the stairs was an unfinished, stone basement. A small bathroom was crammed in this little area. The household boiler and washer/dryer were to the left. To the right was a room with drywall and a small fireplace. The TV was broken. The “bed” was a rock hard futon. There was exposed piping, wiring, unsecured chemicals, and spiders everywhere. But, worst of all, there were no windows or doors. Anywhere! The only escape was the stairs.
I told her this wasn’t what we signed up for (especially since my six year old was crying about the darkness of the place). She actually got offended and said, “I live here. I gave this up so you wouldn’t be stranded.” She said, “For your trouble… I can comp you.” As we had nowhere else to go, I said ok but asked for more lamps and lighting. The next day, we got up bright and early for a visit with family. When we got back to the basement, the host was in the basement, arms folded. She said she had thought it through and prayed about it and told me she needed to charge me still. I protested because this wasn’t right and the space wasn’t safe. She then said, “I told Airbnb to refund you, so we can do this in cash since I don’t have this apartment listed yet.”
I refused. I told her we would leave and she acted offended. I ended up paying $342 for a hotel. Airbnb did nothing! When I explained the safety concerns in the basement, they said they couldn’t address them because it wasn’t listed on the site. The only thing they cared about was her attempt to use cash. But, even that didn’t bother them because, again, she wasn’t attempting to get cash for the basement listing. In the end, she got away with it. Now, however, the basement is listed despite the safety hazards.