Airbnb Experience from Hell in Costa Rica

First of all I would like to say I have always been a big fan Airbnb and absolutely love the concept. I have always have great experiences with hosts and the booking process has always been quick and seamless. However, with that having been said, the past weekend I had the most horrific experience, which actually led to my vacation being ruined, inflicting loads of anxiety that has severely affected me.

It started when I booked two nights in Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica. My husband and three-month-old baby left early in the morning on Saturday, July 15th to embark on the bumpy five-hour ride. We were so excited to arrive when I received an email from the host saying the place was not available. I was very disappointed, as this had never happened before and almost put me into a panic. I called Airbnb and explained what happened. Within the hour we were able to book another place, a little more expensive but the case manager said Airbnb would send a credit to compensate for the other balance. I was very happy and grateful for that. However, he did not follow through with his promise and said I needed to pay.

Now in a frenzy waiting in the hot sun, I was willing to do anything to just get settled into a place. Airbnb reached out to our new hosts, who accepted our reservation right away and met us at the supermarket to follow them back to the place. We checked into a beautiful house and thought we could finally relax. This is when the drama began.

I received a call from Airbnb demanding I pay for the new reservation, $517, when I had already paid $467 for the original place and the funds were already taken from my account. Now I felt like he was disrespectful. He transferred the case to another case manager. I kept getting emails saying I needed to pay but was told in the first place the funds I already paid would be transferred to the new reservation.

The next day I was approached by the host saying they canceled our reservation because I didn’t pay. Airbnb called him and said we didn’t pay, but I sent several emails of my bank statement showing that the payment had gone through and was posted. The next twelve hours I was on the phone on and off dealing with numerous customer service agents, being put on hold for thirty minutes at a time, when no one could figure out how to solve the issue. I spoke with many other case managers and supervisors and kept getting promised things would be resolved. I was even on speakerphone for over 1.5 hours with the host beside me and a customer service person. Nothing was solved.

I was then told that this was not Airbnb’s responsibility, but the host and I had to figure it out. At this point I felt extremely uncomfortable being in the house with the host thinking I had not paid. I was calling the entire time on my international phone and my cell phone bill had $300 worth of charges. On Sunday night, nothing had been resolved. Every time I called no one knew anything and kept blaming me. I am still dealing with anxiety.

I have never had such a bad experience with any customer service. I have spent thousands of dollars, referred superhosts, and recommended Airbnb to friends and social media followers. I was a loyal customer but this experience has not only left a bad taste in my mouth, it has left emotional damage.

They offered me $25 worth of travel credit. That’s almost an insult. I would never ask for any sort of compensation but in this case I think it’s necessary. I spent so much money to not have enjoyed a single moment on my vacation. I wish I could be sending an email expressing how much I love the service (which are the only emails I usually send) but unfortunately this is one that’s not so positive. I’ve sent numerous emails to customer service explaining this and have been ignored. I spent over 325 minutes on hold while talking to Airbnb, over 620 minutes in phone calls, spoke with over 15 representatives, and been hung up on six times.

Airbnb Booking and Reservation Issues: Can They Make Mistakes?

It’s not my first time using Airbnb. So far our first experiences have been great so we decided to use it and tried looking for a place in San Francisco. Upon checking I tried to ask some questions from 2-3 different hosts, e.g. how far their places are from downtown since it was my first time visiting. Anyway, I tried to check the dates and I’m sure that I just wanted to hold them for our reservation. I was just surprised that after a couple of days both bookings had been made and our debit card was charged. The first one was fine and I got a full refund less the Airbnb fees, but for the second one, which was more expensive, the host refunded only 50% of our payment. I tried to ask for some consideration since Airbnb’s policy states the host has the discretion of refunding the full amount since it had only been one or not even one day after they confirmed the reservation without my knowledge. Now I am trying to contact Airbnb but I have had to wait 72 hours for their replies. I have a valid reason for getting a full refund. Someone in the family just died and I hope and appreciate that someone can help me on this matter. For some people it might be a small amount of money but for me and our family and as a single parent almost $400 dollars is a huge amount for us to lose. I would appreciate if someone could at least help me resolve this issue as soon as possible. Below are some of the conversations. I have a lot of photos showing that I didn’t book the properties; I got a pre-approval (e.g. 1:39 but on the same date they charged my card as well). Thank you very much.

Airbnb Takes Payment in the Wrong Currency

We booked a house in Norfolk, UK for a week, and received confirmation from Airbnb. Everything seemed okay so far. The cost was obviously in pounds. We used our AMEX account, which is in the UK. We clearly paid in pounds from a UK bank account, but because our address is currently in Australia Airbnb charged us in US dollars and 8% for the currency conversion. So Amex paid out in dollars and converted it back into pounds for us to pay off the credit card in pounds. The house originally cost £681 and it has cost us £727. Unfortunately, it didn’t end there. The host cancelled, so I telephoned her to find out why; she said she hadn’t heard of us. The dates had been booked out for ages. She was so fed up with Airbnb she was withdrawing her property. So beware folks: check which currency you are paying in. My complaint was dealt with by an email quoting some obscure terms and conditions. I had the last laugh though because I was lucky and received a refund into my Amex account in US dollars, which Amex converted back into pounds. Due to a more favorable exchange rate, I actually made a very small profit. I will never use Airbnb. I think we got off easy.

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.

Payment Not Received. What Can Airbnb Do?

A lady stayed for five days in my flat alone. Everything was fine then I noticed I never received payment, £898. Airbnb never told me; I noticed in my bank account. I have spent six weeks calling their San Francisco and London numbers over 30 times. I have not had contact from anyone on the payment team or a case manager. I have emailed constantly and messaged the guest myself with no luck. I have posted bad reviews on Instagram and asked them to DM me. No luck. So the lady has been allowed to stay for free in my home. It’s outrageous. I’ve been a host for three years. I have 80 reviews. This means nothing to them. You cannot get in contact with anyone. I very much doubt I will get my money; the guest is still listed on the website so she can do same thing again. I have contacted Watchdog in the UK and informed the guest and Airbnb. Six weeks and no contact. Being told my case is the highest priority for weeks now is just rubbish. If I don’t keep contacting them they will just ignore what happened. I never got compensation from a guest for a plumbing issue which came out of my security deposit. After so many messages I never got more than £89. I will go to the London newspapers with this story as the public needs to know that if they host they may never get paid.

Currency Nightmare: Complete Denial of their Problems

I made a booking on the Airbnb website. It showed me the total was SGD $877 (Singapore dollars) and said it would be billed in SGD. I paid using a credit card issued in Singapore, with the default currency in SGD. My card got charged in USD instead, and there were hefty currency conversion fees from the bank. As usual, you can never find any number to call Airbnb for help. So after a long time navigating their “help” pages, I finally sent them an email to describe the problem. Someone actually replied, sounded polite, and earnestly tried to resolve the problem, but after a couple of email exchanges, you could already smell their dirty tactics on handling complaints. I can summarize their dirty tactics in just one sentence: blatantly lying, refusing to admit their mistakes, and then shifting the blame to others. They replied that the problem was that I was using a US credit card even after I emailed them evidence that my card’s default currency was SGD. They just kept insisting otherwise. They insisted that my credit card wanted to be charged in USD, which was never the case (I even called my bank to question them if such a thing was even possible). When I pushed for a more explicit explanation, they asked me to contact my bank and then simply stopped replying, both on Facebook and through email. The whole time they just gave template replies and sent me links back to their help page, which is obviously useless.

Possible Prostitution from Airbnb Guest

I received a guest’s reservation for one person from 12/10-12/29. After the reservation was confirmed, Airbnb sent me an email saying he did not finish sending payment and the reservation was not confirmed. The next day, Airbnb sent an email saying the payment had been confirmed and the reservation was confirmed. Before arriving, the guest texted me around 6:00 AM Saturday morning saying “we arrived early in Boston” and asking if they could check in early. Seeing him use “we” seemed to indicate the reservation for one person may be wrong. I asked how many people were coming, and he said three. I asked them to update the reservation through Airbnb as three people. He agreed. I replied it was okay to check in at 10:30 AM.

When they arrived, I saw the guest and three young girls (in their 20s, claiming to be college students). His profile on Airbnb indicates he is married with his wife and son in the picture. Some hosts reported negative experiences with him. I chose to trust him and accepted his reservation. During check-in, I asked what they were here for as they are spending Dec 10th-29th with me, which included Christmas. The girl hesitated for about five seconds and looked at my guest, as if she didn’t know what they were here for. Then she said they were here for work. Then he started to explain: he lives in Boston and has a food packaging business with a warehouse near Acton. The three girls were his employees and were staying at the Airbnb; he would not be staying as he lives in Boston.

It all seemed very sketchy, so I asked for his ID. He showed me his driver’s license, on which a California address was printed. I could not verify what he said was true and if his driver’s license was authentic. He said he could not change the reservation to three people so I did. He accepted the change. However, right after the acceptance notification, Airbnb sent me an email saying he had not paid for the new change and will email me if they confirm payment. I would not receive payment until it had been confirmed he paid. Fast forwarding to that first night: the guest never left. They were very loud and noisy. I texted them asking them to keep their volume down and also follow through with their payment. No response was received. I did not force them to check out as it was late and I didn’t want to interrupt three girls living downstairs even though I heard the guest and knew he was staying with them downstairs.

The next day at 1:52 PM, Airbnb notified me that the reservation had been canceled. I won’t be receiving payment as they did not receive my guest’s payment confirmation. Note that Airbnb did send an email confirming payment had been received for the initial reservation before it had been changed. That is how the initial reservation had been confirmed. I saw no record of the reservation and I was not even able to comment on this negative experience with this guest to warn other Airbnb hosts about this incident.

More facts: the guest cancelled his reservation without paying anything (as far as I know from Airbnb emails). He complained my place was cold and not safe while there was central heating; I told him upon arrival that it was set to 68 degrees. Other previous guests felt it was warm and comfortable but he thought differently. They broke a vase and left something red dripping on the floor and the carpet (partially wiped off on the concrete floor side but I can still see the red color; red bloody dots on the carpet are clear and visible). It is hard to tell if it was a red drink or blood but it’s certainly disgusting.

That night was loud and noisy. I am not sure if Airbnb can and will send any payment to cover the one night plus the cost of the broken vase, but I am not hoping for much. I removed my listings. I had another experience with a German guest, who broke the bathroom handle. The German guest paid $50 in damage fees but it turned out to be an $800 cost to change out the complete bathroom set. Of course I complained to Airbnb afterwards with nothing being done.

Conclusion: Airbnb is not doing what they are responsible for, keeping hosts safe and protected. Hosts are left vulnerable by any illegal actions committed by the guest and may become responsible or punished for other people’s wrongdoings. Guests who should not belong to Airbnb community cannot be checked and verified properly through the website.