Absurd Cancellation Fees One Day After Reservation

I was just planning a trip to Italy in June (their high season) for a wedding and I wanted to talk to some of the hosts to be sure the place where the wedding was being held was close enough. Some of the places had automatic reservations, which means that if you wanted to ask the host anything, you first needed to reserve the place. I booked two places, because in the cancellation fee policy it said I could cancel them any time until 30 days before my arrival. Once I got answers from the hosts and determined which place was better for us to stay (a day after) I went ahead, canceled one, and kept the other. When I saw my account I was reimbursed but for 190€ less. Now they say that there’s a new policy for multiple reservations where they will keep the Airbnb service fee even if you cancel a reservation an hour after making. But this is not shown anywhere unless you look at the really fine print. Does anyone have any thoughts or recommendations on how to recover this 190€?

Dreadful Refund Policy, No Way to Speak to Airbnb

We had used Airbnb three times with no difficulties, until we made a reservation to stay in a log cabin at Christmas. We made the reservation in September and immediately after we made it we received a notification from the host that the rates that were posted on the Airbnb website were incorrect and that we owed a substantial amount more. The host recommended that we cancel and find something else if the additional cost was not acceptable. We went ahead and immediately cancelled the reservation. However, we didn’t receive a full refund. Airbnb retained $118 as a service fee! A service fee? They had done nothing! The host was very upset and tried to contact Airbnb without success. We tried repeatedly to contact Airbnb without success. We learned that if you need to cancel, the host must do the cancellation and then you get a full refund. If you try to do it as a guest, then Airbnb will keep a portion. Today again I have tried to find a phone number for Airbnb as a last ditch effort to express my frustration, with no luck. So I am writing on this site instead in the hopes that others will read it and not fall into the same trap that we did. We are done with Airbnb. We will never use them again.

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.

Airbnb Rip Off Report: Zero Customer Service

I recently went on holiday to Italy and booked several places via Airbnb. With the exception of one, the properties were misrepresented and not as they appeared in the advertisements and photos. One apartment rental we booked in Omegna, (Lake Orta) in Italy was so bad we could not stay there; it was an absolute disgrace compared to the description and photos. I tried to contact Airbnb about any problem but it’s impossible. I tried to cancel online as soon as we arrived but all I got was one night’s refund; I lost the other two nights’ fees, an Airbnb fee, and a cleaning fee, and then had to rent a hotel room. The company obviously never checks if the place being advertised fits the description. All links online lead back to the owner so it’s impossible to get in touch with them to resolve a problem. They obviously don’t care about guests as long as they get their commission. I will never use Airbnb again.

Nest of Thieves: Airbnb’s New Policy Costs Me

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed by AirbnbHell.com users do not necessarily reflect those of the Airbnb Hell staff.  That being said, we will continue to provide a free and uncensored platform for all of our contributors to share their Airbnb related stories, opinions, and experiences.

I’m a pensioner, an old lady who can’t afford to be ripped off by Airbnb. I had booked a holiday in the UK. I paid for it in full and was due to take it in November 2016. Then I received an email from Airbnb saying that everyone who uses their website will need to sign their Equality Commitment. I could agree to almost all of it, but though I have no property to let out, I could not agree to let out a room in my home to a gay couple. I have no problems renting from a gay couple. But as gay marriage is against my religious principles, I just cannot sign it. I was able to get a refund for the actual holiday but not for the service charge. I’m an old lady and can’t afford to lose that service charge. I would understand if they had told me before I paid my money out, that this is the way it’s going to be. That would have been fair. But this isn’t even legal! Never mind fair. They state that any bookings I already have will be cancelled if I don’t sign. You can’t do that! But they have done that. They have ripped off this old lady and robbed her blind. Why are they allowed to get away with it?

Airbnb Hell-sinki Apartment Nightmare

In early June 2016 we chose a apartment in Helsinki for three months and I decided to rent in the Hagaa Area (pictured). Normally, this would come to €130 but because it was a long term arrangement the host offered a discount of €100 and told me she couldn’t make this deal through Airbnb; I should pay cash at arrival. Usually apartments in this area rent at about €1,000 a month: they’re very old and under renovation. Some people even block the entrance; my kids had to leave by the emergency exit, which was surrounded by dangerous equipment and tools.

Anyway, I had to pay €3000 a month plus a €70 cleaning fee. When we arrived, the host told us the renovation had been finished and they would clean up the stairs soon. However, the next day we realized the real situation and complained. The host told us she didn’t know anything about it but cut off the electricity and water for many days following our arrival. When we checked out, she sent us a list of damages and quoted us €1,200 for a small kitchen table and €240 for a cleaning service… I had thoroughly cleaned the apartment before we left. Now she’s threatening to report us to the police and slandering us by saying that I committed a crime by damaging the kitchen table. Be careful from whom you choose to rent. You never know what will happen to you.

Host Cancels – and I Lose the Fees!

This is a very simple story like most of those you read. My host cancelled at the very last minute (while I was at airport on my way to Bali). She told me she did not have the accommodations after all, and offered an alternative which was much less suitable. So I ask her to cancel, thinking (like all standard hotels) that if the provider cancels then naturally all fees will be refunded. Not so in this case. No matter what I did, Airbnb takes a cut from their guests. So a host can cancel under any circumstances and it costs the guest. This is not professional at all.

So, when it works, Airbnb is great. I have had some cool stays through the site, but this experience has just been gouging: taking money wherever you can, trying to navigate their website and so-called resolution process. It is circular and guarantees you either fall over from boredom or fatigue trying to recover small amounts (in my case $150), which is probably half the intent. I realize now: they are more about making money than “providing great experiences”. The brand presents wonderfully but there is a dark side. Hopefully more will realize this: every time they book they take a chance that a host will cancel at the last minute (tolerable) but Airbnb wont refund your guest fee (intolerable and dodgy). Imagine charging a guest anything when they didn’t initiate the change.

This has been a hard lesson but a good one. Bye bye Airbnb! Comfortable in cyberspace and outside international law!

Airbnb was no Help with Nasty Host

Our host greeted us at the door with an old dog with matted fur; there was no mention of him in the profile. She provided us with one key and said we could make our own copies. Some rooms didn’t have any light bulbs and the host said we could buy some. The bathroom and floors were brown with dirt and dog hair. The smell from the dog was so bad we could not stay in the apartment the first night. We weren’t able to use the intercom because it’s connected to the house phone that the host took with her. We had to go downstairs every time to let my husband in. The host didn’t have a wifi password for us upon arrival. There was no gym. The furniture was broken. The “free parking on premises” was street parking. I contacted the host twice about getting a partial refund and she had no reply to my request. I asked to have one night’s stay and the cleaning fee back. She wouldn’t reply. Airbnb closed my resolution request with no explanation after two months. I’m unable to include a link to her listing because the stink spot is “no longer available.”

Airbnb’s Little Loopholes that Screw Hosts

I have had two separate “awaiting payment” issues two days in a row. Airbnb doesn’t give you any indication that a guest’s payment may not be valid until you accept the reservation. This automatically holds the reservation and prohibits the host from declining guests or opening up for other guests that might have their affairs in order. I called Airbnb and spoke to a representative about declining these guests; they would not change their policy, so my listing is off the market with no secured payment for 24 hours. Why would Airbnb hold a host’s opportunity to make money hostage? I was told that the odds of the payment issue being fixed are greater than the chances of it failing. Nevertheless, Airbnb takes all the host’s rights away in order to protect the company’s interests for 24 hours. The fact that a host hits accept and gets an immediate “uh oh… there seems to be a problem with the payment” is proof that the software Airbnb uses can immediately detect if there is an issue with a guest’s payment option. This simple line or two of software code should be implemented when guests click “book”, not when the host gets stuck with a blocked calendar. I told this to the Airbnb representative… he would not help me cancel the reservation awaiting payment and left me feeling like this policy is not going to change.

Dealing with Airbnb for a Lost Key is Ridiculous

We went to Yoshinori’s place (our host) in Osaka, Japan. Yoshinori has a strange check-in, check-out system. He let us take his key out of the mailbox when we arrived, so we have to put the key back at our departure time. We definitely put the key back when we left. After we went back to our country, we received a message that Yoshinori wanted us to pay $200 because the key was lost. I asked Airbnb for assistance, mentioning that we definitely put the key back in and they should check any surveiliance cameras in the vicinity; $200 seems unreasonable to replace a single key. I received a reply from Airbnb saying that the $200 is reasonable, and I should pay. Ummm…. what about me putting the key back where it was supposed to be? What about Yoshinori’s loose security? They are just making us pay. I HATE Airbnb, and I HATE Yoshinori. What should I do now? I will not pay the money, and is it even possible to sue? I want to get some kind of legal help. How can this be possible?