Airbnb and its Hosts’ Unfair Business Practices

I was looking for an Airbnb place for me and my son in the vicinity of Woodstock, New Hampshire, for Feb. 8-15, 2022. Because of my age and the circumstances due to COVID-19, I needed a private bathroom and two rooms.

I used a map displayed on my computer, as provided by Airbnb. I picked this property because it appeared very close to Woodstock and met my requirements. I booked it and paid a full fee of $910. As soon as my booking was confirmed I received an address of the property and it became clear that it was a mistake. The property was in Vermont, a one-hour drive from Woodstock. The mistake was caused by the scale of the map, in which the property appeared close to Woodstock, and I did not realize that.

Within less than 15 minutes I cancelled my booking and requested a refund from the host. I explained in my request that I made a mistake. The property was off the market for less than 15 minutes and was advertised as available immediately after my cancellation.

The host responded that he could not issue the refund. He did not explain why. He referred me to the Airbnb management. I explained my situation to them and requested a refund from the host again. He responded that he would answer in an hour, as required by Airbnb. He did not. He was holding my money, while at the same time he was advertising his inn on the Airbnb website.

I felt trapped. Obviously, I could not look for a different place since I paid the booking fee. The next day the Airbnb representative began negotiating with the host to obtain a refund. At some point during the next day around late afternoon or evening the Airbnb representative informed me that the host refused to issue the refund and that Airbnb could not overrule his rejection.

The host made money off my mistake and was listing his property as available for booking.
I understand that when someone books a property in advance and then cancels shortly before the planned arrival the property owner may legitimately face a loss of potential customers, but my case was totally different. I cancelled my booking within minutes of receiving an address of the property, and then it was back on the market.

The host kept me hostage and engaged in unfair business practices under the protection of Airbnb. Sometime late in the evening I received a message from Airbnb that the host agreed to a 50% refund. Considering the cost of this booking I could not absorb such a loss. This was totally unethical. The Airbnb representative agreed with my grievances, but appeared to refuse to overrule the host’s response.

My only option to which the host agreed was to rebook. I was stuck with this place. I drove an extra two hours every day during my five days staying there to reach my preplanned destinations.

Two days later the host sent me a message that if I would like to cancel for a second time, he would issue a full refund. And again, a day later he offered a full refund if I cancel again.
Everyone knows that when the number of days before the planned arrival gets smaller, the availability of places to stay declines rapidly. Every day, every hour counts. By the time the host decided to offer me a refund. I couldn’t find anything close to Woodstock that met my requirements.

Airbnb’s refusal to overrule the host’s response and his lack of timely responsiveness during the Airbnb negotiations, which continued for two days, inflicted great emotional harm and stress on me. I felt trapped. During my stay, I accrued additional financial cost, loss of time and unnecessary two hours driving daily to my destinations in New Hampshire.

Also, during our stay in his property, we suffered from vertigo, teary and itchy eyes due to the presence of enormous amounts of various laundry, house and personal cleaning volatile chemicals as well as air purifiers, and even charcoal starter above the kitchen stove. It was impossible to relax on the sofas due to the constant sneezing. And the TV was losing connection all the time.

I wrote this review to be publicly displayed on the Airbnb website, for the benefit of potential tourists. This information needs to be available to protect the travelers from the unfair practices of Airbnb and their host.

Unfortunately, Airbnb prevented me from publishing this review under the pretext that it violated their rules. I wrote the address and host’s name in my initial version of this document. While writing my review I found that the host’s name and address of this property are in full view on Facebook.

Thus, the privacy restrictions invoked in this case by Airbnb were used simply to prevent publication of my critical review and to protect their host and the company from publishing the inconvenient truth. The fact that this information is openly available on Facebook implies that I could not have violated the privacy rule of Airbnb.

Please note that I agreed to remove anything that Airbnb finds objectionable in order to resubmit my review. Airbnb refused.

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