I have been planning a road trip around the US from Australia for several months now. There are five of us going: myself, my sister, my brother, and two friends who are a couple. Between us we are aged 27 to 43, one of us is pregnant, and we’re all nerdy. Hardly party people, right?
Due to the fact there are five adults needing four beds and we’re driving so we have a car, Airbnb is the cheapest and most convenient way for us to book accommodation. We booked all of our accommodation months in advance.
Last week, with no warning, I got an email from Airbnb stating our accommodation in LA had been cancelled. There was no explanation, no apology, just that it had been cancelled and I would get a refund. I messaged the host asking why he cancelled, and in the meantime searched for a new house.
What did I find? The house I’d booked, back online and available for the dates I had booked, but at an increase in price. Furious, I emailed Airbnb Support. According to their guidelines, if a host cancels the reservation “you won’t be able to accept another reservation for the same dates of a cancelled reservation”.
The host responds and assures me he has not cancelled the booking, but Airbnb has instead. Nowhere in my short email and text from Airbnb alerting me to this cancellation is it clear that Airbnb has made this cancellation. The host says it’s due to new laws in LA.
I Googled these “new laws” and found one news article saying Airbnb has cancelled a number of reservations in LA due to complaints of these houses being “party houses”, after a mass shooting at one in October last year. I sent Airbnb a follow up. The host has said that Airbnb is usually pretty good at assisting guests with rebooking after cancellations. This was not something they had offered to help with for me.
I finally get a response from Airbnb Support. They stated: “When we checked the host account, the reason why they cancelled the reservation is due to the new law in California regarding renting the place. Almost all the reservations were cancelled. Their local government is requiring them to do some stuff before hosting. Until the host settle this with their local government, that’s when they will start hosting again.”
I responded, asking why the house in question was still listed as available on Airbnb if the host has to “do some stuff” before being allowed to host again. I also requested advice on how to rebook in LA if this is a blanket law. Airbnb responded saying they do not have control if the reservation is cancelled by the host, which is why there are cancellation penalties in place.
Obviously the people at Airbnb were struggling to read English. This is not the case. Airbnb cancelled my reservation, not the host. I requested clarification, Airbnb responded with yet another weak excuse, blaming the host. I responded expressing my disappointment, asking why they hadn’t addressed my concerns or been able to give me an apology. They didn’t respond.
I’ve been sending them a message everyday, reminding them that I don’t believe my matter is resolved, and requesting to speak to a manager. I’m hesitant to rebook in LA, if the same thing is likely to happen (they won’t address this concern at all) and don’t want to risk my booking being cancelled too close to the trip, as LA is our first stop. Honestly, this has put me off using Airbnb because clearly customer service is not a priority for them. Does anyone know how you make a formal complaint against them?