Horrible Experience and Resolution for Hong Kong Airbnb

I tried to open a resolution case on the Airbnb website. It was really challenging so I’m just writing this long email to Airbnb. I think the part of my user experience differed from that four years ago. I started using Airbnb back when you could reach a live person about your problems; nowadays, it trys to automate everything.

My latest stay was in Beijing from April 13-16, 2017 in what was advertised as a modern, quiet, and relaxing apartment near the CBD. The resolution center kept asking me to “request money” from this stay which I didn’t have a problem with.

However, I am writing about my stay in Hong Kong, during which time I was overseas so it was difficult to call Airbnb. I was contacted by a local Airbnb resolution center specialist but it was handled really poorly. The room itself was horrible. It looked nothing like the pictures. In fact, I have pictures to prove what the actual living conditions were (will reply to any email with the pictures).

I landed in Hong Kong on April 6th. I was pretty jet lagged so just booked a place and fell asleep. The second day while I was in the city touring around, the owner moved my luggage into a different room. It was slightly bigger; however, there was a sewage problem with the bathroom (not to mention the fact she moved my stuff and suitcase and entered my room without permission). I was pretty upset, but still jetlagged. I decided to just go to bed.

In the middle of the night, I woke up from the unbearable odor from the bathroom. It was so strong and the room was tiny, with no window for ventilation. I was very upset and called Airbnb for help. Someone picked up the call and promised he would “call me back soon.” He asked me to “find a cafeteria or some place, wait for his call, and try to book a hotel: Airbnb would reimburse me.”

It was 2:00 AM at the time, and I had to leave and try to find another hotel. Nothing online allowed same-night bookings (in fact, I accidentally booked something for April 9th and was charged on booking.com even though I was supposed to fly out of Hong Kong the afternoon of the 9th). Finally it was 3:30 AM. I took an Uber and found a hotel to sleep in. The whole experience was horrible.

The next morning, someone from the local Hong Kong team finally contacted me, I couldn’t talk to her for long because I needed to check out of that hotel and try to catch my flight. I told her I would “reach out and resolve this once I can settle down.” She went ahead and cancelled my resolution case. Right now, I am asking for a formal resolution process to start. Due to the unresponsiveness of Airbnb as well as false advertisement of this “hostel” trying to be a house, I lost my valuable travel time in Hong Kong, spent money on Uber both ways, booked a hotel at 3:30 AM, and had to spend 30 minutes on international calling. Overall, my experience of Airbnb in Asia was just a much lower standard when compared to that in the US.

Airbnb Not as Advertised for Elderly Parents

We arranged for my elderly parents to stay in what was advertised as a full house/apartment in Greenville, SC. When my parents arrived, we met them at the Airbnb they had reserved and discovered it to be a room with a king size bed, one chair, and no dining room table. There wasn’t even a full kitchen (a sink, coffee pot, microwave, and fridge). This is not an apartment or a full house. Neither a person nor a couple could live there for two weeks. They could sleep and shower there, but that is all there is room for.

When we told the host we would have to move, my parents and I said we would like a refund for the booking on the first night. She told us we must just not like it and that she had had only good reviews so far. If we had a complaint, we needed to take it to Airbnb. We took it to Airbnb. Their customer service people have been trained to be empathetic and understanding, so one thinks their case will be heard and that they will help. However, after several hours total on the phone and online chat, my parents only received a 50% refund. The 50% refund was because “they had not received a response from their email.” Not only had they received a response, they had received more than one response.

All told, we have contacted Airbnb six times. The last time they sent us back to the owner, who has not yet responded. The third line in the cancellation policy says if you leave early you will be refunded the remaining balance. This did not happen. Airbnb also said, on the fifth call, that we had not provided photo evidence of our complaint. This is true. However, we were never asked to provide photo evidence. We cannot even give a bad review as they make sure there is no place to do it.

We cannot request money for the trip because the trip has already passed. We cannot make a report to the BBB because my father or mother have to do it. My father had a major stroke a month ago and is unable to do it, and my mother, who is his power of attorney, wrote a letter to the BBB asking them to allow me to complain on her behalf because of her poor health.

Host and Guest Come to Agreement, Customer Service Disagrees

I am a longtime Airbnb host. A guest failed to notify us of a leaking radiator for over a month. By the time we were aware of the problem, it had ruined the kitchen floor and required a $3100 repair. We were eventually able to work out a fair and amicable resolution with the guest, who agreed to pay us $500 towards the $1000 insurance deductible that we had to pay. After we reached this agreement, an Airbnb case manager blocked the payment and closed the case on the grounds that we had involved our insurance company. This is completely absurd; should we have taken the full loss or tried to get the guest to pay the full amount? Since this happened a few days ago, I have reached out to Airbnb repeatedly without being able to speak with anyone with the authority to remedy the situation. This is a horrible experience that is showing an inept and unfeeling Airbnb.

Apartment Trashed, Airbnb Closes Case After 24 Hours

My guests came, held a party, and trashed my place, causing thousands of pounds of damage to the furniture and fittings. I was made redundant last year, and I rented out my apartment as I could not sustain the cost. The previous tenant moved out on February 24th, 2017, and the new tenant took up residence on March 16th, 2017. Given that I had three weeks when the apartment was vacant, I decided to use Airbnb to ease my strained financial situation. This was my very first time using Airbnb, the auto accept function was on, and I was too naive and should have checked the guests had reviews before accepting.

The guest held a party, trashed my apartment, and caused damage to furniture, the wooden floors, and fittings. It was a traumatic shock when I came in: there were stains from alcohol everywhere; the wooden floors were badly damaged as they moved furniture; the furniture and fittings were also damaged. I immediately called Airbnb on the day. I was supposed to get a call back, but didn’t get one. I again chased them down, and  was eventually directed to the resolution centre. I sent in the pictures of the damage, but unfortunately I had not been able to get the receipt for my furniture from the manufacturer. I also could not get the contractor to come around in time to assess the damage to the wooden floor and fittings, and this is the only contractor we are allowed to use under the building lease to maintain standards.

I explained the situation to Airbnb, that I was chasing the contractor, but they kept decreasing the time I had to submit the documents, from 72  to 24 hours (and they sent their emails at 2:00 AM). They closed my case, explaining that it was in line with their terms and conditions, and that the final decision rests with them. The problem is exacerbated for me as my current tenant is saying that the damage to the floor and furniture was not there when he agreed to the contract, and wants the floor fixed and the chair replaced, otherwise he will vacate. This is going to cost me £5,000, which is very difficult at this stage given I don’t even have a job. I know Airbnb has the final say, and they have gone by the terms and conditions laid out. I implored to their sense of compassion, as the ramifications are more far reaching than just the damage; if I don’t fix the damage, I may lose the tenant, which would be a disaster given my already strained financial situation. However, my case has remained closed.

Airbnb Took $2,000 from my Debit Card without my Authorization

Airbnb has some of the most clever travel scammers online that have ever existed. I decided to surf the vacations options for the summer using Airbnb (my first big mistake). I forgot that about a year ago in order to set up my account, I provided a payment method, which was my debit card (the biggest mistake). So, while trying to make a reservation, I desperately tried to check where my payment information was stored, and I couldn’t find it: not in my profile settings, and not anywhere else. Being an IT professional, I clicked each and every available option. Then, when clicking the “reserve” button for the reservation, I was expecting to see what every consumer is supposed to see: a message confirming that a certain credit or debit card will be charged for such an amount for the vacation…right?

I was never informed that Airbnb would be charging me the entire vacation price up front. The next thing I realized they took over $2000 from my debit card causing me to lose lots of money in the form of bank fees. I don’t even want to start on how many resolution tickets I had to open with Airbnb and how much of a genius one has to be to actually find a way to contact Airbnb. You can find plenty of those stories here already.

I was lucky enough to speak with Airbnb on the phone twice where customer service is no more helpful than the sun in the middle of February. They just politely act like messengers who will “make sure to escalate your matter ASAP” with promises of a big guy with the awesome authority to get back to you within two days and resolve all of your issues. This never happens. Escalation through online resolution tickets is even more fun. You’d have to be Einstein to find a way to open one, then when you do you will be blessed to get their response via email in a week or so. The best part is the email rep is prompting you to reply back directly if you have further questions or need help. So, when you naively do it you will immediately get a message that your email is undeliverable.

Here is my question to Airbnb Hell readers: how many stories do you need to be posted here before bringing Airbnb to court? I think there are plenty already. It’s time to act.

Incomplete Airbnb Stays: No Reviews Allowed

My friends and I lost hope of getting a proper resolution of our case through the Airbnb resolution center. We did not get a refund and our review was not published on the website. The situation with feedback is totally awful as our review was supported by multiple photos. We have contacted Airbnb multiple times but got only formal responses. I would very much appreciate if you could advise what we should do in this situation. I would want a chance to at least make our review available to others on Airbnb; the apartment is still listed on the site so there will be other people who may suffer from it.

We had used Airbnb to book an apartment in Barcelona from January 5-11, 2017 for our family. We arrived at the apartment at 8:30 AM but at that time the previous guests were there. The host told us that we may check in only after 12:00 PM. At that time we did not have a chance to look through the apartment and discuss its conditions with the host. We left our luggage and used the rest of the day for sightseeing in Barcelona. We came back at 7:00 PM and realized that the apartment was not in a good conditions. The linen was dirty, the bed was not suitable for two people, and there was no linen at all for the third guest. We can provide the full review with photos if anyone is interested. The host was not available so we could not discuss these issues with her. We were not comfortable staying in the apartment, so we had to leave it and find another location.

The same day, we informed the Airbnb resolution center about these issues and asked for assistance. The next day I discussed these issues with the host and she told me that our requests about cleaning and the bed could not be satisfied. She did not feel comfortable providing the apartment after our feedback about these conditions so we agreed to sort it out with Airbnb. A few days later, an Airbnb specialist cancelled our booking without our consent, and informed us that the case was closed. When we came back home from the vacation we provided a detailed review but it was not published by Airbnb. We had contacted the Airbnb resolution center and got a response that the review could not be released as we did not stay in the apartment and the booking was cancelled. We had called the resolution center and explained that the review was based on our personal experience – that we had to leave the apartment because of its poor conditions and that our booking was cancelled by Airbnb – but the response from the resolution center did not change.

Airbnb Guest Invites Strangers, Trashes House

A guest booked 12 people for two nights. I asked them to read our house description and rules and pay attention to our quiet time (10:30 PM) being announced there. The first night they were up and loud till 3:00 AM. I texted them and my messages were ignored. The second night they were up and screaming until 2:00 AM. After my messages were ignored, I went to their door to see what was their problem. First they didn’t open the door, then finally they let me in and I saw there were 16 people drunk and loud. I asked for the person who booked the property and he was not there. I called Airbnb, reporting there were four extra unpaid guests on our property, the person who booked is not among them, and they are so loud past our quiet time that he agreed to through the Airbnb reservation system; the trace of the message is there.

Airbnb did absolutely nothing. The guests were screaming after that until 4:30 AM and this lengthy phone call with Airbnb was just a waste of time. The guests left us furniture damage that Airbnb didn’t resolve through the resolution centre, as the guests lied and denied everything. Instead Airbnb closed my account, cancelled my upcoming reservations, and said my review of the guests qualified as racism. In reality the review had nothing to do with the guest’s ethnicity or nationality at all. My case was so unfair and poorly handled. The Airbnb founder, Bryan Chesky, who talks about trust and safety doesn’t realize that he himself abused the trust of his landlord at some time to sublet it to others as a short term and has no idea what trust is. It’s no wonder in my own case I don’t see any trace of trust or safety at all. Airbnb is his true child – like father like son.

Items Stolen by the Cleaners after Holiday Stay

The host in this story has told me to just accept that my items are lost, so that has now pushed me to the point of pure anger. I’m seeking some closure by hashing this out on my keyboard.

I went to my friend’s 30th birthday in Dorset, UK, only an hour or so away from us. Our mutual friends were staying in an Airbnb nearby for the week leading up to her 30th, so we went to stay in a spare room of the house for the one and only night we were there. Being a typical high-anxiety kinda gal, I like to take a few items of clothing to choose from when I know I’m going out in public, just in case I change my mind at the last minute because one actually makes me look like a primary school teacher/whale/idiot. I took two dresses and two suit jackets, and the morning after, I stupidly left all of those things hanging behind the bedroom door: barely worn, nice-ish labels (Phase Eight, ladies), average size for a woman, combined worth of £150.

Now, whilst I admit this was entirely my fault, naively enough I figured that of course any normal person would have found these and put them in a safe place ready to return to me, right? That’s normal; people are kind, right? My friend emailed the host to explain I’d left some things behind. There was no response. Then I emailed the host, saying I was happy to send over some money as per Airbnb’s “resolution centre”, and a few days later I got a response:

“Hi, I’m really sorry there was no sign of anything when I went in on Friday. Will talk to cleaners tomorrow for you as they are in.”

Great, that’s fine. Sure, it had already been a week by now and the cleaners were only just going in which was strange, but fine. I should mention here that I’m a cleaner of holiday lets myself. I heard nothing back for a few days, so I checked in, and the response was:

“There was nothing that I could see the other day. I will take a proper look on the next change over day. Will be in the new year now.”

It was December 27th, 2016. Ok, that was fine. There are people staying in the house over Christmas and New Year. I know this because Airbnb says it was booked out. However, that was fine; my clothes will stay wherever they’ve been left by the nice cleaners I’m sure. I waited until after New Years, or January 8th just to give her some breathing space. By this time I had let Airbnb know of the situation, and they were also trying to ring her, getting no answer. I got a message back a few days later:

“Hi Natalie. The cleaners are not aware of anything fitting that description. I have just been very busy and don’t live near the area. I’m not planning to visit the place until the end of the month. You might have to accept you have lost the items. I got a voicemail from Airbnb enquiring for you.”

So… no. “I’m really sorry, but we can’t find your things” or “I’m so sorry that we can’t resolve this but…” I just don’t understand this way of dealing with people at all. She’s not sorry, she doesn’t give a crap, and that’s that. But that just makes me even more concerned, and I kept prodding. I wrote:

“As a woman to woman thing, would you accept that you’ve ‘just lost the items’? I can’t just nip out and replace them. Do you understand that as a customer I therefore rely on you to help me? I paid to stay at your property and I feel like I’m being fobbed off. I’m sorry that you’ve been too busy to help out but it is a business you run based on trust and respect to your property and the people that stay there, and I have lost all sense of that. It is totally my fault that I left them there but if it was me, running a business like this, I would endeavor to make sure my clients were reassured. Can I please be put in touch with your cleaners as I’m guessing they live closer? Or your brother that goes around daily? Somebody who could go and check. As I said, I can wire money via Airbnb to post them back and I’m happy to add on more than the cost. I just want my things back.”

And nothing. That was it. Three or four cases opened by Airbnb, and closed again after 24 hours due to ‘no response from the host’. There’s been a bit of moaning and complaining to get their attention on Twitter. They told my friend that they saw no reason to continue any case for it (even though absolutely nothing was resolved) and they kept closing them. The scenarios that are going around in my head are: she took them, and she’s obviously not going to own up to that; the cleaners took them, and she’s also not going to own up to that (but she should); the cleaners are just bad at their jobs, didn’t see them, and another guest has taken them. Working out what happened with no proof just means thoughts pop into my head every now and again, I feel sick, like I’ve been robbed, and then I go back to realizing there’s nothing I can do. That’s my vent. I’m sure some people have real problems. Thanks for listening and don’t stay here.

“You have to use the Resolution Center, sir.”

I made a reservation for three weeks in Coral Gables, Florida. Based on the information in the listing, it looked perfect for my daughter and me. I’m 70 years old but my daughter is 38 and positively brilliant. She took a look at the listing and said “Dad, did you see these reviews? They’re pretty bad… and I think there’s no wifi or internet.” I had not looked at the reviews. Having had very good experiences with Airbnb for the last few years, I trusted their vetting process. Sure enough, this host had five different listings for the same property, under different headings. This normally isn’t a big deal, but every other item in “amenities” apparently had problems according to the reviews (of which there were 79). The property was an apartment building, not the home of a host; there was nothing kosher about this guy. According to the reviews, the listed wifi was essentially non-existent, 30Kb/s at best – virtually dial-up speed, if that. The electricity had gone out, there were stained sheets and mattresses blackened by the filthy tiled floor, unusable pots and pans, one towel for four guests, and two instances of this host canceling reservations a day before due to “a calendar sync issue.”

The list went on, from severely uncomfortable spring mattresses to the host being inaccessible. When I called this host, the phone number he’d listed with Airbnb had a recording I’d never heard before: “This customer is not taking incoming calls.” Ok, the plot thickens. First I called my credit card company, and before I could say anything, they wanted to know if there was fraudulent activity for a charge in Miami of about $1,400. “You bet your ass!” I replied. My pal at Capital One said, “Hold on, I’ll get Airbnb on the line and you explain your situation, see if they’ll cancel this recent charge… geez, it’s not even an hour ago! I’ll be listening in.”

Well, I got an amiable young man at Airbnb and explained my situation. He brought up my booking request, informed me my request had been accepted and if I wanted to cancel, the host’s strict cancellation policy applied: I would lose half the amount for canceling, since he said the payment had gone through. Although the reservation had been confirmed, the payment was still pending.

I replied, “No money was transacted, am I right? Airbnb is still holding that money, isn’t that correct?” Of course Mr. Amiable goes circuitously vague and obtuse. I continued: “This charge has not ‘gone through’ – it isn’t even an hour old! The reservation was made under false pretenses. Regardless, this host shouldn’t even be with Airbnb; this isn’t his home, he’s just renting out apartments and doesn’t give a flying crap about any guest-host relationships. He lied about a few things in his listing and I’m not going to be staying in his crappy apartment.”

“Well, you have to cancel the reservation, then take the issue to the Resolution Center and they will resolve the issues between you and this host,” said King Solomon.
“No,” I replied, “because by canceling a reservation, I will be reaffirming that the reservation was made legitimately and will be bound by the host’s cancellation policy, isn’t that right?” Dead silence on the other end of the line, so I answer my own question. “Yes, that’s right and that’s why I’m not canceling this reservation. Instead you, an Airbnb representative trained in conflict resolution, are trying to get me to validate this fraudulent host and his cancellation policy, so that I will be out $700 for services not rendered in the slightest and you are refusing to cancel a charge that was made one hour ago, for a reservation based on fraudulent information.”

I caught my breath and simply asked to speak with the supervisor. After a minute, Mr. Aimless came back and tried one more time to spin what was clearly a losing argument, for which I presented his points as illogical, incorrect and otherwise invalid again. “And by the way, why are you not letting me speak with your supervisor?” I asked this because I had been hearing this knuckle-dragger consulting with that supervisor several times, while I was talking.

“Sir, he has to deal with about 40 Airbnb agents…”

“Fine, you tell that young lady helping you that I’m retired and have nothing better to do but sue Airbnb for the most ridiculous refund policy ever presented. I would hate for a lovely corporate friendship to end in a court of law but you leave me no choice. Oh, never mind. Just do what you want. This charge is not going through and if you pay that crook of a landlord money, you will not be getting reimbursed.”

There were some clicking sounds, after which my pal at Capital One said, “Mr. Haber, once the charge is submitted to us for payment, we will explain why there will be no reimbursement. Capital One has your back.”

My First and Last Airbnb Stay, Accused of Damages

I graduated recently from school, and my parents were visiting me for graduation from outside of US. I decided to take them to Florida, and I booked my first Airbnb. Being a first timer on Airbnb, I was very cautious of everything. I tried to keep the entire house clean and tidy, and I tried to make sure I did not damage any part of the property. I won’t damage the property of anyone either now or in the future. My stay was good (not perfect, but nothing is, so I kind of ignored any small problems). I didn’t want to sound like a complaining guest; I didn’t know I could make complaints and get a refund (partial or full).

So here’s what happened. On my third day (last day, the day I checked out), I was washing the dishes in the kitchen sink of the property hosted by a shady couple. While doing that, I started the garbage disposer in the sink and within a moment, before I even realized what was happening, the plumbing below the kitchen sink broke and dirty water started to spill onto the floor. It could have caused an electrical short circuit as well as a fire. Anything was possible. I’ve attached the pictures of water coming out on floor. Then, I texted my hosts immediately. First, the woman told me that she would come and see what happened. Then, after some time, the guy called me and asked me what happened. I told him what happened and he was very calm after that. He said he knew what must have happened, as if he knew the plumbing was fragile. They also told me to put towels on the water and then leave the house; they would come and take care of the damage later.

I trusted them (my biggest mistake) and left the property. I was roughly four hours away from the property by car. I stopped at a gas station only to find out my hosts were demanding $200 in compensation for a broken pantry door (when did that happen?) They said that we broke the pantry door. If you think carefully, there is a connection. The plumbing was broken. They must have had to spend some money on the repairs. However, it was their fault, so they could not ask for money for that. Instead, they found another way out. If you look at the door, the wooden strips that are not present in the door are easily removable. They just removed them, took pictures, and filed a claim with Airbnb. There were slots to put the strips in or remove them if required. And it worked. Airbnb asked me to pay $152 in the end, because the hosts were so called “superhosts” and I was just a recent graduate staying at an Airbnb for the first time. Now it was their word against mine, and I lost.

If they had asked me for another $100 while booking the property for any legitimate reason, I would have given them that money. But, in this case, they falsely implicated me. My parents traveling 9500 miles to see me were not visiting their property to damage it. If we had damaged it or if there were any accident, we would have told them promptly. To add to that, when I gave a bad review of the property, the host used the weapon of good reviews and ratings they had in past(as I expected them to do), to say my claim was false a and make themselves feel secure. When you are so good at hosting, you can get away with doing one wrong thing so easily by pointing at all the previous good karma. That is what they did and victimized me.

I know some of you readers may find them right and more credible than me, but remember: you could also be in my place someday if you do not take enough care. I should have demanded the host walk me through the property at check-in and check-out so I could have confronted them easily if they said anything was damaged, but they used clever planning to avoid doing so, so that they could later blame me. My family and I were pretty much shocked and saddened by what happened. I quit Airbnb and will not return.

A few things went wrong or felt odd during my visit. These so called superhosts did not walk me through the property at check-in and check-out. I did not get sufficient information on how to get around the house and operate appliances; I had to figure it out myself. It would have been best to walk guests through the house at check-in and check-out so that host could have made guests aware of any pre-existing damages and any problems the host may have found at the time when guests walk out of the property. Because they filed a claim four hours after we left, I could not go back to the property to verify anything. To top it off, as Airbnb says, if the host and guest cannot reach an understanding, hosts can go to the Airbnb resolution center. However, this host did not contact me at all; he went straight to the resolution center. They didn’t talk to us directly before reporting the damage to Airbnb, because they were super liars.

The property was immensely dark in and around at the time of check-in. It was very frightening because when I lit the house I found some chameleons walking on the grass and trees around the house. The pantry door, shown in the picture above, was perfectly in the good shape, except one wooden strip below the door knob was not placed properly in its slot on the right side. The kitchen had empty chocolate wrappers (that’s how much cleaners attended to the property) and a rotten apple. My mother was this close to eating it, but fortunately, she decided to cut it in two pieces before she ate it and she found that it was rotten. The kitchen was not complete: there was no single appliance with its lid, so when I wanted to cook rice, I couldn’t. The soap bottles and shampoo bottles were almost empty. And they were Suave, which is very cheap. Everyone knows that. The lowest quality soaps were purchased to show the host didn’t care about guests and wanted to maximize his profit. The water pressure in the shower in the bathroom was also very low, equivalent to the gardening bucket we used to water the plants. Despite so many problems I did not want to complain, but I should have done it. Since it was my first stay, I was unaware of all the ins and outs of the Airbnb. Now I have decided not to continue using Airbnb but to book a regular hotel next time I need to go somewhere. If I can afford four days with Airbnb and two days in a regular hotel, I will still go with a hotel. At least there won’t be insecurity and frustration of being falsely implicated for damages which I never caused.