Airbnb Rating System Deceives Guests and Hosts

We’ve been hosting on Airbnb for six years. However, we easily went from being Superhosts to “your account might be suspended.” Why, you ask? A couple of malicious reviews and Airbnb’s rating system, which is not averaged. Because we had so many guests, we were unable to keep track of individual reviews and when we got five-star ratings for six out of seven of the features we assumed that we still scored a 4.8-4.9. That is not the case; we got proof recently when we received a review for a new listing. Our guest rated us four out of five stars for the Overall Rating, however he also rated us five stars for everything else (locality, cleanliness, communication, etc). Our listing showed a four-star rating when he was finished. Since we didn’t have any other reviews we were able to finally see why our overall rating on our listings dropped below 4.4 stars while all along we were receiving at least four- or five-star ratings out of the six. We called Airbnb and our guest. Airbnb quickly changed the rating from four to five stars. However, our guest said he never leaves a five-star overall rating, as that would be the equivalent of a room at the Hilton. We seriously don’t blame him. The star rating system for food and accommodations has been around forever, so much so that is almost a subliminal message. He genuinely thought that if six out of seven ratings were five stars, the overall 4.8 would be more than adequate for a $50/night room. That was not the case as apparently Airbnb is using the Yelp system without advising their users about it. This is not even a fair Yelp rating system. At the end of the day, they’ll give you a four-star overall rating even though we scored six out of seven five-star reviews and only a four star…

Airbnb Made it Impossible for me to Book

I’m not really an Airbnb guest nor do I intend to ever be one in the future. I recently tried for literally two hours to book one of their properties. I was repeatedly asked to verify my phone number and email, which I did without a problem. They also asked for a photo. I’m thinking: “What? Who do they think they are?” But I sent one in. Then they wanted a copy of my last credit statement. This is after providing verification several times and spending hours doing so. This was the final straw. I have done business for years with both VRBO and Homeaway, without needing to provide pictures and credit card statements. To verify our credit card, all they needed to do is run it. Ultimately, we made other arrangements, through a competitor. The end result? Airbnb lost a potential customer who uses similar services 2-3 months a year and the associated rental fees, but most importantly, the host lost the chance to book their property. We will do business where the process is simple and our platinum credit card is honored. It was pretty poor customer service. I hope this isn’t a publicly traded company because with this business model, they probably don’t have much time left before bankruptcy.

Airbnb is for Business, not Community

After years of being an Airbnb guest and months of being a host in NYC I’ve concluded something that I long suspected but couldn’t zero in on because I’d never hosted. Airbnb is 100% for people who are using it as a business. This story of them building a community is false. First, from the guest side: ever try to find a whole apartment or house that didn’t look like it was just some real estate guy trying to make tons of cash? I have. Ever finally arrive and never even meet the host? Just put the code in the key safe, right? Ever look through the kitchen and realize that no one has ever used this kitchen because if they did they’d realize that everything necessary to cook was either missing or broken? I have. Not once. Not twice. Every single time.

Now from hosting side. Hosts are treated like a commodity, like they are out to make as much money as possible and will do anything to get the next guest. I wonder why? Because good little hosts accept every single reservation regardless of whether the guest asks, “Can I arrive at 1 AM?” or asks you something like, “I’d love to stay at your place. Where is Brooklyn, anyways?” Or you receive a request at 2 AM for someone who wants the place for your maximum stay length four months in the future. You think I’m exaggerating. I’m not.

Dear Airbnb,

This is my home. I live here. I’m not a real estate professional. Generally the tools to connect with the right guests work. You can set the minimum and maximum length. Turnover times. Open and close calendar dates. Seems pretty friendly. If you’re still reading, I’m finally to my point. The kicker: If you aren’t making Airbnb lots of money by renting your home like it’s a freaking hotel they will make your life hell.

Here’s how: 1. They randomly shut down your account for “not accepting.” 2. They modify how your listing shows in results. This is a really big deal because they have all the power and there is no transparency. But the results of this are clear. When you’re making money all the reservation requests are from people with lots of great feedback. When you start getting more selective the people they send your way signed up the night before… with no feedback. No travel experience. No community – you are a hotel to them. And that’s how Airbnb lets you know what a good little host is supposed to be.

Horrendous Experience with Airbnb Customer Service

Update: Still accurate but this very minute they have come up with the refund they promised.

My experience with Airbnb was atrocious. I tried to book a holiday cottage and the host tried to send me an offer. According to the host, the button on the website did not work and she then asked me to book the cottage from my end. When I tried to do that the listing had disappeared. Later our dates appeared as unavailable. I then panicked and put in a request for another place which was accepted immediately. In between, the original host mailed me saying that the dates are still free for us and would we still want to go ahead. We then tried to cancel the second transaction, because we wanted to stay with the original host. After a day of frantic email exchanges between Airbnb and the two hosts and myself, I rang Airbnb (cost: £17) and they agreed to refund the money they had taken from me for the second host (minus their service charge), so I could proceed with the first host. I agreed to that. They confirmed everything in an email. A day later nothing was cancelled or refunded and the whole email process started again.Eventually they refunded me £98 out of £223 for a double booking that was not supposed to have happened, as their website did not allow us to stick with our original host. Talking to hosts is not possible, as Airbnb deletes all phone numbers and email addresses until they have taken the money. I am unlikely to be able to claim my money back through my credit card company because they retracted their refund confirmation email a day after they had sent it and I was stupid enough not to have printed it. All in all, a truly horrendous experience.

More Protection than Guests: Airbnb is Untouchable

We booked a stay in Ha Noi, Vietnam, by the beach based on the blurb and pictures posted by the host. Although their ad left us a little confused as to what it was exactly – a homestay or bnb or hotel or ? – in both the written word and in the pictures, it had ticked enough boxes for us to send the host a few questions about connecting rooms and shared amenities, etc. The host was a little vague but sounded genuine enough for us to make the booking. Some six weeks later the host contacted us stating that several recent guests had complained that the hosts had not advertised what they were offering correctly and that we might want to cancel the booking. So, we asked some very specific and clear questions about the accommodation, always being mindful of the difference in languages. The responses were even more vague than our earlier attempts. It made us feel very uneasy and we asked the host to cancel the booking, which the host had suggested in their correspondence, and tried to find a way of contacting Airbnb for a refund.

When we found out that it was not going to be possible to contact Airbnb about this matter we wrote to the host. Disappointingly but predictably, she wrote back telling us that she could not and it would be up to us to do so and chase up a refund. At the end of all this I find myself $80 out of pocket, but even worse very disappointed in the completely unethical manner in which this huge company – Airbnb that is – hides behind the Internet curtain of anonymity. I cannot in good conscience use or recommend a company that has carefully engineered a site that supports a modus operandi that leaves aggrieved users out of pocket and doesn’t even give them a chance to sort out problems that were not the guests’ fault. In my case they will lose much more than the $80 I lost in this unfortunate deal.

Early Contact with Aggressive Airbnb Host

After great experiences with Airbnb 95% of the time, I had a truly horrible experience with a host today in Brisbane. I booked an apartment automatically – no contact with the host – so I then messaged them to confirm I would collect the key on Thursday afternoon and also ask what time we could leave on Sunday. There was no reply and I was flying up to Brisbane at lunchtime to stay with a friend. I wanted to have the details on the keys to print before I left – I called the number given and left a message. Then a man rang back on my phone. He did not introduce himself but was very rude about the fact that I called and shouted, saying “he would call in a few hours.” I asked why it was not possible to confirm the details on getting the keys now. He replied they would “get back to me when they felt like it.” Then he accused me of being “too wound up for their liking and I should cancel the booking.”

His tone was then very aggressive, very rude, and to be frank, scared me. Details of access are usually provided asap after the booking so I was not being unreasonable plus this man really frightened me especially as he now has my mobile number and has rung twice and hung up then rang again and yelled at me for having the nerve to message the site to say I felt I was put in a position where I had to cancel and I was advising Airbnb that another person was accessing the account and making rude phone calls. I therefore will have to pursue a formal complaint as it looks like this is the only way I will get my money back given their unreasonable behaviour and cancellation policy. Anyone thinking of booking in Brisbane: message me first and I will advise which apartment this is, so as to not give yourself the scare I had.

Speak to Real People with Airbnb Customer Service?

There is zero information available about contacting Airbnb to get help from a live person. This has been apparent to me on the pages of Airbnb as I attempted to learn precisely how to list my home. I even attempted to create a listing but the process halted after the system could not “verify” two different phone numbers. The Help Center is worthless to a person with a problem that does not fit the pre-configured scenarios the geniuses at Airbnb can think up. Most tellingly, no “Contact” button/menu item is available so it is apparent Airbnb is nothing but an extension of the Borg. Only this limited interaction “feedback” with zero interactivity is offered.

Well guess what? The sheer arrogance and/or elitism of Airbnb personnel simply screams from the site. No, you can not think of all issues and place them in an endless series of dropdowns, and no, like hell am I going to play Simon Says guessing games to pass through the hoops Airbnb has provided. The industry is flooded with venture capital to build systems to smash smug assholes who operate Airbnb and my money and more importantly, time, will be spent elsewhere. So, why am I bothering writing this here? Just using it as a temporary pad to jot down my review of Airbnb before finding a spot to publish it.

First and LAST time airbnb customer

I had never used airbnb before but was traveling with family to California for a wedding. My cousin was nice enough to book a place for us using airbnb. I was traveling with 2 other adults and 3 children so needless to say we were disappointed to find that she had only booked us a 2 bedroom condo but figured we’d make it work. That was until we got there and saw the condition of the place. It was cramped and filthy. The one bathroom was moldy and the sink was broken. The mattress in the master bedroom was stained with blood and urine. The kicker was there was no A/C and it was over 100 out. We had no idea what we were going to do until a man approached us and told us he was the landlord and that the place was not in fact a condo but an apartment and the tenant was in violation of his lease by renting it to us and we had to leave. We contacted the owner for a refund and he insisted that the landlord had told him we could stay but that he would refund us. So then the 6 of us basically homeless in LA attempted to book another place on airbnb. We found a place that looked great. It bragged of city views in a safe neighborhood so we booked it and headed out. On the way a friend from home said he could help us get a huge discount at a hotel starting the next night. We called the host of the place we just booked literally minutes earlier and asked if we could change our stay to just one night and offered to pay the cleaning fee as well. He said ok so we started our drive there. We started noticing that the neighborhood we were driving into was looking less and less safe the closer we got and then we drove up a street that was literally inhabited by only homeless people in tents. Of course, the house was right around the corner. We pulled up to a small 2 family home next to an open lot that had a 30 foot drop with no fence and garbage everywhere. We then received an email from our host saying that we were just too complicated for him and we should cancel our reservation. At this point, we didn’t want to stay there anyway but wanted to ensure a refund. The host came outside and we asked him to contact airbnb letting them know he was canceling not us. He said no, we had to do it first and then he would agree. Of course he never did and we ended up pleading with airbnb for a refund. This guy was completely fine with telling us we couldn’t stay but keeping $1500. It took 5 days for a refund so thank goodness we got a discount at the hotel or we wouldn’t have been able to afford to stay anywhere. We should have just booked an affordable hotel from the start. Never again!